Tagged: Mach III

Sparkly Two-Stroke Terror: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III for Sale

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Front

In the early 1970s, Kawasaki’s two-stroke triples like this H1 500 Mach III ruled the quarter-mile drag strips here in America. 60hp and a 115mph top speed may not sound like that much, but they were fairly light and lacked any of the modern electronic trickery designed to keep riders [mostly] on two wheels and away from the hedges, ditches, and telephone poles that seem to leap out of nowhere. Those horses also came on in a brutal, two-stroke rush that had the front wheel pointed skyward in an eyeblink, while sometimes unpredictable handling and a feeble front brake meant corners and stopping were best planned far in advance, a real challenge when the horizon was a simple flick of the wrist away.

Although the handling may have been primitive, the two-stroke triple and five speed gearbox that drove the beast was powerful, relatively reliable, and the perfect tool for tearing up the straight-line racetracks here in the USA, where they sold like hotcakes, since the scary cornering performance, dismal fuel consumption, and inadequate brakes barely mattered for most riders.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Rear

The upside to the handling faults of many period motorcycle is that it allowed a whole cottage industry of frame-builders and tuners to exist: without bikes like the H1, we’d have no Bimota, and the world would be a sadder, emptier place. But the real question to me is why, since frame-builders of note had been around since the 1960s, didn’t Japanese manufacturers simply contract them to provide improvements? Especially since the issues that affected the H1 are relatively straightforward: frames lacking in stiffness, spindly forks that flexed, and primitive shocks. It’d be simple to dismiss those flaws as acceptable limitations for production-based motorcycles, but many racebikes of the period seem to have been similarly afflicted, so it seems like a pool of knowledge wasn’t being exploited.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Rear

The H1 500 Mach III and the H2 750 Mach IV were both notoriously dangerous bikes that required skill and daring to ride quickly, although the H2 was significantly improved in terms of handling, a good thing considering the additional 50% in displacement… Interestingly, while the H2 was introduced after the H1, it was sold alongside its older, hairier brother for several years. Bidding for this example is just north of $4,000 and far short of the $7,500 Buy It Now price, although there’s plenty of time left on the auction.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Triple for Sale

Completely restored less than a year ago!
VIN BL353836
Open MA title
7806 miles
Dual disc front end braided steel lines
Rebuilt engine, less than 1000 miles ago
Powder-coated frame and wheels
Denco pipes
Custom Pearl Paint with candy color
Stainless spokes, powder-coated rims, extra chrome
Three small dents in rear of front fender (cannot be seen).
Runs and sounds awesome!

H1 and H2 prices have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, although values do seem to have leveled off a bit recently. That may be due to the fact that these were made in volume and, although pristine ones are pretty rare, it’s not all that hard to find a decent H1 if you want one. Although the seller claims that the bike has been “restored,” it’s important to remember that term does seem to mean different things to different people… This bike has obviously not been restored to some sort of “as-new” standard: the original bikes certainly didn’t have the painted triple clamps, the headlight ring is blacked out, the dash appears to have been painted, and the gauge faces are pretty faded.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Dash

That being said, the Denco pipes and the dual disc front end are certainly desirable updates, and the bike is very clean and shiny, with bright brightwork and chrome-y chrome. The paint, while not original, is definitely appropriate for a Kawasaki and, overall, this bike is more “resto-modded” and less “restored.” So while this bike may not be a good choice for collectors who prize originality, it might make a great bike for someone looking for a bike to ride, as long as the seller recognizes that the bike should command a lower price than a concourse-quality restoration when considering offers.

-tad

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Front

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III

Usually when I decide to post a bike that I think would be a neat addition to this blog, the bike is something I would add to my collection. That is if I had one! This bike is no exception. The power band of these triple two-strokes is legendary. Most motorcycle enthusiasts have some great tale of them, or a friend, narrowly escaping death from stuck throttles, unintended wheelies at high speeds and terrifying crashes with just a mention of a two-stroke triple. This why I am always happy to see one in original condition. If all the stories I’ve heard about these were true then there would have been more of them crashed than Kawasaki even made.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III for sale on eBay

The seller seems to be the “real deal” with a lot of knowledge. Here it is in his words.

Up for auction from my personal collection is one of my nicest 1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III’s. This H1 is not the same 1975 H1 that I sold a few weeks back and is an entirely different motorcycle so please read the description and look at the pictures carefully. This H1 has been one of my personal drivers and is an overall clean, correct and maintained example of an H1. I would like to stress the fact that this H1 should not be confused with the other H1’s sporadically offered by amateure and hobbyist sellers. It is one of my personal drivers. With so many Kawasaki’s in my collection, I have decided to let a few of my nicest examples go as I now realize I am never going to have time to enjoy them all. I am convinced the new owner will appreciate the overall quality of this very nice H1. The frame number appearing on this H1 is H1F-43469 and the engine number is KAE-113486 making this a numbers matching correct original motorcycle. The odometer currently reads 14,248 miles which is the actual mileage of this H1 and the build date on the vin tag reads 12/74.

Cosmetically, this H1 is a very clean and well maintained example.  The original body work is in overall nice condition.  The side covers do show some patina and do have a few chips but the paint is overall very presentable.  The original fuel tank is clean inside and in overall very nice original condition and is no doubt much nicer than the average H1 fuel tank. It does show some patina and sun fade but this does not detract from the overall quality of this H1. The seat is in overall outstanding original condition and features a soft and flexible original seat cover.  The rear tail section is also present and matches the original condition of the rest of the body work.  The original chrome chain guard is present with nice factory chrome and does not appear to have any visible damage.  The original front fender is also in nice original condition as well as the correct original rear grab bar.  The correct turn signals are also mounted and functioning on this H1.  This H1 also sports newer tires which ride out very nicely and make this H1 even more fun to ride.  The chrome on the original rims is very nice as well.  The original spokes and hubs are clean and correct.  The handlebars are original and do not appear to be bent and have correct Kawasaki mirrors mounted as well as all correct and original handlebar switches.  The gauges are very nice and do show very slight fading but are in well above average condition.  The headlight bucket, fork ears and headlight ring are also in excellent original condition.  The correct rear shocks match the quality of the rest of the bike.  The under seat area of this H1 is also in a maintained and original condition.  The exhaust set on this H1 is in exceptional original condition and are one of the nicer original sets of H1 pipes I have.  They are solid with no rust or other major damage and would be very hard to replace. In fact, this H1 sports the nicest original pipes of any later H1 model that I have or have had and would be acceptable on a restored H1.

Mechanically, this H1 runs and drives very nicely. It wasly starts on the first few kicks and quickly idles down.  This has been one of my personal drivers and has always been a reliable and enjoyable H1.  As with all old motorcycles, the new owner should perform some general maintance as reccomended by Kawasaki as I have not had this H1 out much this summer (approximately 2 miles put on this year).  The brakes function and quickly and smoothly bring this H1 to a stop when applied.  The original air box is present as well. The engine itself is also very clean, original, correct and well maintained.

Overall, this is a very nice and well maintained H1 that I have used sparingly that would be the perfect example to take out and enjoy or add to a collection.  Nice examples of H1’s are becoming very difficult to find especially from a reputable seller with outstanding feedback from selling New Old Stock parts and vintage motorcycles.  I also of course have a clear title as well as original Kawasaki key to go with this very nice H1.

This is what I’d call a practical classic sport bike. It’s been ridden and shows some wear but is all original and unrestored. You could slide this into a collection and have your staff dust it off once in a while or you could ride it. I know which option I’d choose. These bikes along with several others are going to be very hard to find someday soon. Collectors are already hoarding them in warehouses around the world. Save this one from it’s banishment from society and go for a thrilling ride.

~Buck