’74 Kawasaki H2 Cafe Racer
This is how it is done…well, maybe except for the paint job. As I have written before, I owned an H2 for years before someone stole it. I miss the bike and wish I could afford another so I could re-create what I had. I did a full Cafe version but, bit by bit, reverted it back to a ‘somewhat’ Cafe’ style yet still a comfortable ride…I traveled a lot on that bike..LA to Albuquerque in twelve hours once a month for a year, LA to Vancouver a couple of times and God knows how many trips around the Sierra’s. It was a good motorcycle, after a certain amount of refinements.
H2’s were great motorcycles with a bad (undeserved) reputation, a feeling I’m sure that some girls and guys had in high school.
The original Kawasaki Triples, the H1 500, were really awful handling motorcycles; hinge in the middle “oh sh*t” cornering capabilities, vague steering…’vague’ being a very generous word here, and brakes that were, well…good enough? The 750 H2 addressed some of these deficiencies by adding a disc brake to the front and sticking the motor into a better frame…a good copy of the legendary Norton ‘Featherbed’. There was still much to be done.
In 1974 Kawasaki strecthed out the wheelbase to gain a bit of stability but still kept the tight steering angle. Kawasaki also played with the motor to make it a little easier to ride, early models had a terrible surging problem at 55mph (which was the national speed limit at the time), ” but officer…my bike runs much better at 70…” not a good excuse at the time. There were things you could do to tame the H2 but why would you? Yeah I know, it had a vicious powerband, got lousy gas mileage (my Ford pickup gets more miles per gallon than my old H2?!) and, I always felt sorry for the poor sucker that thought his Corvette was faster in a street race ( my H2 paid my rent each month for quite a while thank you ). The motorcycle was flawed for sure but perfect in it’s own way.
I found a ’74 H2 on ebay today that has been cafe’d out quite nicely…almost a bit over the top, but not quite. The H2 started with 74hp, this bike has been upped to 100hp? Really? Maybe. The triple disc set up is great, braided lines…you’re going to need all that added braking to slow this monster down. Check out the classic Read-Titan rear sets, very cool and just right for this bike. The clip-ons fit perfectly allowing you to tuck behind the bubble nicely. Take a close look at the motor, see the rubber blocks between the fins? Designed to quiet the noise from the motor and subdue some (?) of the vibration, nice touch. As for the H2 lack of handling prowess…mag wheels work great, the fork brace is a must have, but look out back…Koni shocks ( must have for these bikes and it looks to me that the upper shock mounts have been modified for a different angle and maybe made out of stiffer steel?
This H2 is a nice cafe racer that will draw attention no matter where you go, and sometimes that attention (from black and white cars) is not wanted…have fun but… One thing I would do though, dump the flame paint job, find a good painter that can recreate the original colors and to most all, you’ll have a stock looking H2 that only a little has been done…to the rest of us we’ll look closer and we’ll know what you have. And we won’t want to race you.
Click on the pics below for more info and a lot more pictures. So far this a great value if it runs like it should. I’d ask about how they accomplished the 100HP claim.