Tag Archives: kawasaki H2

1975 Kawasaki KH500

I have owned so many motorcycles over the years that I have probably forgotten some of them, but one I have not and never will, is my 1972 Kawasaki H2 750. I have written before about how I came to owning this bike before so I won’t bore you with the story again. That Kawasaki Triple was the motorcycle that first really touched my soul. The H2 was the first motorcycle I took a long (to Canada) trip on, the bike I street raced cars on (for rent money…I almost always won), the bike I had so much fun modifying and spending money on and the motorcycle that could scare the sh*t out of me. Evil,Wicked,Mean and Nasty is how most everyone described the Mach 4. A reputation well earned. The H2 was, if nothing else, a pure adrenaline rush and when you’re in your twenties, what more could you ask for?!

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.06.41 AMI love the Kawasaki triples. I have ridden every size. From the 250 to the 350, 400, 500 and 750 and loved them all. As the line of Triples evolved they also became more civilized, still exciting but not the hooligan bikes they once were. It was also the end of an era for two stroke motorcycles. The Mighty Z1 and later the KZ500 and 650 put the nails in the coffins of the Triples. Well, the EPA had a lot to do with it as well.

In 1960 Kawasaki took over Meguro motorcycles, in 1961 came out with a 125, in ’62 brought out the 250cc Avenger, this was the bike that got the attention of the American public. I have ridden the Avenger and WOW!!! Granted a later version, but still a high WOW factor. The 350 Samurai was even more impressive. Now think about this, Kawasaki’s first four stoke was the 650W1, pretty much a copy of a BSA A10. The Samurai 350 was as fast as the bike nearly twice it’s size! Since that time Kawasaki has tried to bring back the W650 a couple of times with very little success. Too bad, because it was and is a great machine.

So anyway, back to the Triples…Wheelie prone? Yes. Ill handling? Yes. Poor gas mileage ? Yes. Too much fun? OH YEAH!!! Kawasaki did civilize the triples over the years but they were and still are a lot of fun to ride. On the 500, if you romp on the throttle, at 3500 RPM you’re looking at the sky. Can that be cured? Do you want it to be?
There are all kinds of things you can do make these great bikes handle better. Some are easy and cheap and some take a bit of engineering, but it’s worth it.

I found a really nice KH500 on ebay and the price is reasonable, has lots of new parts and is ready to ride. Yes I would make a few changes, only because of my experience with these bikes…but thats just me. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
There is a raw excitement that comes along with riding a Kawasaki Two Stroke Triple no matter what size that can’t be matched by any other series of motorcycles.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 7.27.15 AM1975 Kawasaki KH500

1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.09.28 AMSometimes I just can’t help myself. I love Cafe Racers. Simple. A purpose built/modified machine that can get from here to there quite fast in high style. A cafe racer is a function before fashion machine but…the fashion is definitely there too.

A good friend of mine has recently discovered Cafe Racers. He started his life on a Harley Davidson Sportster, all blacked out, then moved on to a Street Bob (a big twin Harley), again all blacked out and loves it. He is a part time member of the “Harley Culture” but he is expanding his views. My subtle hints and sending pictures of cool bikes seem to be working!Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.53.58 AM

I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when the original Gold Wing was introduced. The GL1000 was at first thought of as a big bore Sportbike, but as we all know, it became the Supreme Leader in touring bikes. Why the change in thought? The original was a touring bike to go up against the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but the molds for all the touring accessories were accidentally destroyed so the bike was brought out naked and American Honda tried to market it as a Sportbike. Well, the aftermarket (in particular Craig Vetter) had a field day with accessories. In no time at all you could make a Gold Wing as comfortable as a Winnebago. It is the motorcycle that changed touring motorcycles forever.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.56.31 AM

I rode it back in 1975 and thought it was rather Ho-Hum (I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 at the time). Fast forward a few decades when I bought my father his Gold Wing, I came to realize just how good this motorcycle is. I started looking at Gold Wings as more than just an ‘old man motorcycle’ but as a platform for some serious fun. Granted, you can’t convert a modern Gold Wing to anything other than what it is but get an old GL1000 or 1100 and the fun begins.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.03.34 AM

I found a very nicely done Cafe Racer ‘Wing’ on ebay this morning and it looks very appealing. A little too blingy for my taste but very well done. Pretty low miles for a bike it’s age…my wife says the same thing about me. NOT. Some really nice upgrades and like I said, a little on the ‘Blingy” side for me but nicely done.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool bike.

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Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 7.58.11 AM1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

1975 Kawasaki Z1 900

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The 1969 Honda CB750 Four is generally considered to be the first Japanese ‘Superbike’. I beg to differ. Yes the CB750 broke ground with electric start, disc brakes and a wonderful engine. But… in my humble opinion, Kawasaki really led the way into ‘Superbike’ with the 1969 H1 Mach 3. The Mach 3 also known as ‘The Blue Streak’ (due to the blue stripe on the gas tank) was less than a Superbike in all but one category…horsepower. Power to weight ratio. It handled lousy, braked marginally, would scare the crap out of mere mortals (and some immortals)…it truly was a motorized ‘Flexible Flyer’. But we all loved it!

In 1972 Kawasaki came out with the 750cc H2, the Mach 4. This motorcycle was capable of mach speeds  and then some. It handled better than the Mach 3 and with some modifications it actually handled pretty well. In a straight line nothing on two  wheels (and most four wheel vehicles) could beat it. I paid my rent for a year or so racing cars with my H2. I thought I was King of the world until my friend Mike Kaller bought King Kong…The Z1.
The Mighty Z1 really did bring the term “Superbike” to life. Big motor, Big power, and beautiful styling.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 7.37.32 AMMy friend Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship in 1977 aboard a Kawasaki, the first for a Japanese manufacturer…along with the help of Craig Vetter and Keith Code.

I found a really nice ’75 Z1 on ebay this morning. It has been set up nicely with 1974 body work and livery (paint scheme) and repro exhaust. Here’s the the thing about the ’75 versus previous years. It’s better.

For 1975 Kawasaki gave the Z1 a better frame, better suspension, brakes that could actually stop King Kong, tuned the motor to be a bit more friendly and got rid of the chain oiler (the chain oiler was maybe a good idea but sure made a mess of the rear wheel…). The down side of the Z1 was that it chewed up chains, sprockets and rear tires. Well, manufacturers of those parts weren’t prepared for a bike like ‘The Mighty Z1’.

The seller of this particular Kawasaki Z1 has done a nice job of making the bike look right. It does need some basic service work..as in go through the carbs, check the electrical’s but from there, you’re going to have a fabulous motorcycle.
My suggestions though….upgrade the rear shocks, new springs in the front (along with Race Tech emulators), a set of GP touring bars, better brake pads, some sticky tires and hang on.

Another thought here, The Z1 also makes an incredible ‘Sport Tourer’. The motor is strong enough to pull you and a passenger, along with your luggage, the seat is surprisingly comfortable for long stints in the saddle, and honestly, The KZ900 is a great all around motorcycle.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a really great motorcycle to have.

 

 

 

 

<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Kawasaki+Z1+900&icep_item=111362860979&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Image

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1975 Kawasaki Z1 900</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Kawasaki+Z1+900&item=111362860979&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1974 Suzuki TM400 Cyclone

Picture 13Are you NUTS??!! Does the term “Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty’ turn you on? Do you have dreams of taming a bucking Bronco in the old west? Do you have more huevos than brains? Have you ever had evil thoughts of giving a friend (?) a motorcycle so that you could just sit back and laugh your rear end off? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the bike for you!

The Suzuki TM400 Cyclone. This bike was built to be the dominant force in Moto-Cross…in the hands of Roger Decoster and Joel Robert, it was. However, the TM400 they rode was a very different motorcycle from what you and I could buy.Picture 23

What you and I got was a bike that had a light switch powerband, a chassis that had no problem bucking you off or swapping ends without telling you first, it would change directions on you with no effort at all even when you didn’t want it to. This was motorcycle like no other. It’s no wonder it was given the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Most riders of the TM400 are actually ‘survivors’ of the TM400.

So what is it that makes the Cyclone such an interesting motorcycle? Beats the hell out of me…both literally and figureativley. I spent all of about 20 minutes on one at an MX track in Southern New Mexico. I was the friend(?) that everybody else there that day laughed their butts off at. It was pretty fun to be terrified by a motorcycle. Now, mind you at the time, I was riding the street bike equivalent of ‘Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty’…the Kawasaki H2750 two stroke triple…I eventually learned how to tame that beast (or was it the other way around?) and many learned how to tame the TM400.

The Suzuki Cyclone became a somewhat rideable motorcycle by adding extra flywheel weight, thicker head gaskets to lower the compression ratio, ignition timing changes, smaller carburetors, modifying the chassis…anything to tame this Cyclone.

Picture 12When the TM400 showed up it made around 40HP from the factory and think about this, many 125’s today make that kind of power!! And they are actually fun to ride!

I found a very clean TM400 on ebay today and if you are looking for a very unique motorcycle that will scare the daylights out of you…but for some will give you big smiles, check this one out. It is a good runner, has a non stock exhaust, has been painted, but the seller says it looks really great. All in all an interesting bike.Picture 15

So, if you’re looking for a true “Holy Sh*t what did I buy?” motorcycle, click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. Also, review your insurance policies.

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Picture 181974 Suzuki TM400 Cyclone

1982 Kawasaki GPZ750

Picture 2In 1982 I was the Sales Manager at a Kawasaki dealership here in Southern California, I loved my job. The family I worked for was great, they helped me in my roadracing effort, and thanks to them I was doing pretty well. Here is the better part…I was racing a Kawasaki but my daily ride was a Honda. It didn’t look good for the Sales Manager to be riding a bike we didn’t sell, so…I was given a ‘demo bike’ to ride. Life doesn’t get any better, especially when your first ‘demo bike’ is a Kawasaki GPZ750.

I spent ten really good years on a Kawasaki H2 750 Mach 4, Kawasaki’s flagship three cylinder two stroke rocket. At times it scared the crap out of me…the H2 was called “evil, wicked, mean and nasty” by every motorcycle magazine and most people who owned them, but after some really good (serious) modifications the monster was tamed and we had great times together. Sadly,the H2 was stolen from me (if I ever find that guy…”hell hath no fury than an H2 rider without his triple!) and that is how I ended up on a Honda CB750F.My H2

Back to the GPZ. When I was told I was getting the GPZ I wanted to cry, cry tears of joy. I had already sold a few of them and everyone loved it so I couldn’t wait to ride it.

Closing time on Saturday afternoon I was given the key, and a stern lecture from my boss as to how I was to ride the bike responsibly (the look on his face didn’t match his words…if you get my drift here…). I spent the next two days flogging that GPZ up and down every canyon road I knew here in Southern Cal. The smile never once left my face.Picture 3

Here’s the deal with the GPZ…Kawasaki was already successful with the KZ series and had brought out the GPZ models in 550 and 1100cc in 1981 but they had to compete with the Honda CB750F model and Suzuki’s very capable GS750. Kawasaki was known for building motorcycles with ‘King Kong’ horsepower but didn’t have the chassis to control it. The GPZ750 changed that.Picture 5

The GPZ was not just a ‘tarted up’ KZ750, there were chassis mods (courtesy of the Z1 and models soon to come…like a shorter wheelbase for quicker turning, beefier headstock and more), engine changes like new cylinder heads,new cam profiles, different carburation and a different riding position. What Kawasaki was going for here was a pure unadulterated sportbike and that is what they got. What they didn’t expect that it would also be a really good sport tourer. The GPZ1100 was Kawasaki’s ‘heavyweight’ sport tourer, but now they had a 750 that was at home on a canyon road as it was on the interstate. The first GPZ 750 is one of Kawasaki’s finest bikes of the era. The GPZ underwent some changes over the next couple of years (some good and some… ‘not so much’) but it was and still is a fabulous motorcycle.

I found a beauty today on ebay. This GPZ is a stocker, which in my book is pretty much the best way to find a used bike…that way you get to do whatever you want to do to the bike instead of undoing what someone else did…unless you would have the same things done to the bike. A bit of a convoluted thought but hopefully you get my meaning. This GPZ has been garaged for twenty years with 24K on the clock, not bad but it is going to some love. Standard stuff will be required here…carb service (full clean and rebuild), change all fluids, new tires (they’re old. I don’t care how ‘new’ they look or how much tread they have left, they are not worth keeping on the bike), brake pads, etc, etc. There is the standard corrosion on the bike that can with a little time and effort can be dealt with. This bike is a rider not a collector piece. Do the basics and ride it.

The GPZ 750 is a really wonderful motorcycle that will do anything you ask of it…blast through your local Sunday morning canyon ride, commute to work everyday, or throw on a set of soft saddlebags, a tank bag and head off to Telluride. Click on the pics below for more (not really) info and more pictures. Having ridden one for a while I can say this a perfect example of the ‘UJM’ being taken a level higher.

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Picture 101982 Kawasaki GPZ750