’72 Kawasaki S2 350
Ok, here we go again. Little hot rod bikes. To me, a 350cc motorcycle is the absolute perfect size. Plenty fast enough to keep up with freeway traffic, light enough to be a good handler, sips gas…and with gas prices heading into the $4-5.00 range, what wouldn’t you like about a 350cc motorbike?
The Mach 2 triple replaced Kawasaki’s A7 Avenger twin as the ever increasing war among performance bikes kept building. Here’s the deal, this bike had to go up against Yamaha’s RD350…did it succeed in that quest? No. Is it a great bike? Yes. Sadly the S2 350 was probably the most ignored of the Kawasaki Triples of the time. The 500cc H1 would give you the biggest giggle factor per CC of any bike around (provided you were going in a straight line…corners were not the 500’s forte’. The H2 750 would leave any other motorcycle (and most cars) in a cloud of blue smoke, and the little 250 Triple was a just a blast to ride. So why didn’t the 350 work in the sales department? Because it wasn’t the RD350. Simple.
After a couple of years Kawasaki replaced the S2 350 with the nice but boring KH400. The 400 was smoother riding but, like all the Kawasaki Triples, was being tuned down to just OK. Not the exciting ‘scare the SH*t out of you’ of the first generation triples. The original 350’s were and are, fun to ride, you could wheelie these bikes at will in the first three gears.
So, I found this really good condition Kawasaki 350 on ebay this morning that would be a lot of fun to own and ride. It’s got 23,000 miles on the clock, no biggie…I had over 75,000 on my H2 (yes, I did do the top end a couple of times, but with a 2 stroke motor, pretty easy stuff). The owner threw on some new tires, a new battery, steering head bearings, fork seals, shocks, and other bits and pieces that make this a buy and ride motorcycle. It has been repainted but the color and stripes are right. It does have the signs of a bike that is forty years old, but all in all, really good condition.
There is one thing I would do…replace that not so good front drum brake with the disc brake set up off the ’73 model. Probably easy to find at your local salvage yard or on ebay. Actually, there are a least a dozen forums dedicated to the Kawasaki triples where you could find the conversion parts. Oh, one more thing, Kawasaki triples have a tendancey to surge at freeway cruising speeds (steady throttle), all you have to do to cure this issue is drag out your Dremel tool and raise the exhaust port about 1/2 millimeter, it’s amazing what that little change does. And…if you want a little more ooomph out of the 350cc motor, pull the baffles out of the mufflers, cut about 3″ off the internals, re-wrap them (you do still want to keep the bike quiet) and you’d be amazed at how the bike feels.
This is a good bike that can be good commuter, but…me…I’d give it a mild cafe treatment and ride it everyday. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It’s good bike and well worth adding to your collection.