1967 Kawasaki A7 Avenger
1967…The Summer of Love. Haight Ashbury, Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, my second year racing in the deserts of Southern California, and one year away from being able to ride a street bike ‘legally’. What a time in life. My step dad also decided that it was time to get my mom riding a motorcycle. He had already set me down the path of moral and social degradation, did he really have to sacrifice my mother as well??? Apparently so.
Now, Michael (step-dad) was a devout follower of Edward Turner and his Triumph Twin but every now and then he would drift into the occult…he was racing a Bultaco as well as his Triumph, but when he came home with a little Yamaha 250 street bike I thought he had really gone over the edge. Until I rode it. The ‘giggle factor’ of that little motorcycle was unbelievable. Family and friends loved that little bike…everyone except mom. Oh well, her loss, our fun.
When mom decided she didn’t want to ride the 250 it was sold to a friend who then traded it (along with some cash) for a Kawasaki 350 Avenger to another friend. If the 250 was fun, the 350 had to be a LOT MORE fun and it was. The bike was very typical of Japanese bikes of the time which means it handled like crap… Wobbly doesn’t even begin to describe the general handling of the A7 but what a motor. That 350 would easily outrun bikes twice its size, well unless you were racing on a twisty road but back in those times more of us were thinking of simple speed more than corner prowess.
The A7 Avenger was a very good motorcycle for the time. The motor was strong (somewhere around 40HP and a top speed of around 100mph) and reliable, fit and finish was…well, better than acceptable and handling could be made better with a few modifications. The A7 sold well but not as good as it should have. Sadly it had to compete with Yamaha and Suzuki, Honda was entirely focused on four strokes. The Yamaha was fast and handled good, the Suzuki was faster, but didn’t handle well at all. So the Kawasaki fell right in the middle.
The Kawasaki A7 350 was an outgrowth of the very popular A1 250 but got some good improvements along the way. Basically what Kawasaki did was slide a bigger better motor in an existing chassis (that was based on a Kawasaki Grand Prix bike) and call it good. Ok, wait a minute here. I know that I said the bike was wobbly handling and then I say it’s based on a grand prix chassis, which by all counts should handle pretty damn well, they did by mid 1960’s Japanese manufacturer standards. And, they were far away from production bikes.
The motor though got a good number of upgrades, a major one being the ‘Inject-O-Lube system. Not only did the oil pump squirt life saving oil into the petrol mix, it also sent it directly to the main bearings, hence, longer engine life.
For performance Kawasaki decided to go with the Rotary Disk Valve intake system versus the Piston Port design used by other manufacturers. Why? well it is a more efficient design as it doesn’t waste any fuel (it’s all burned which means more power!), the rotary valve gives more torque from lower RPM’s and has better throttle response throughout the RPM range. However, the Rotary Valve system is more complicated and expensive to build and therefore Kawasaki decided to scrap it (after testing it on the 3 cylinder H1 500cc Triple). The interesting thing about the Rotary Valve design is that the carburetors are not behind the cylinders where you normally find them but inside the engine cases inline with the crankshaft. Now, you would think that would make the engine way too wide for a high performance twin cylinder motorcycle…you would be right except for the fact the Kawasaki engineers moved other parts around to make the bike acceptably narrow. It is really a fascinating system.
So, with all that being said and now that you know everything Kawasaki A7 Avengers…I found a really nice one on ebay today that should fit well into anybody’s mid to late 60’s Japanese two-stroke collection.
This A7 is not showroom perfect…thank God. I much prefer bikes that wear their age with grace and dignity. The engine has been overhauled with new bearings and seals, some parts have been replated or repainted. The exhaust is not stock but for a bike with chambers, it’s not obnoxious. The bike looks and sounds really nice check out the You Tube video on the sellers page.
Click on the pic’s below for more pictures and more information. This is a nice fun bike that with a bit of suspension work and nothing else should be an absolute blast to ride.