Nothing the Europeans produced had quite the same character as the big two-stroke triples from Kawasaki. Produced first in H1 500cc form, and then later in S2 and S3 sizes, the H2 750 Mach IV was king of the hill in terms of power and displacement. With a short wheelbase and power that came on like a 2×4 to the back of the head, these developed a reputation for killing their owners, although, unlike the earlier Mach III with its bendy-riffic frame, this was likely a result of new riders not really being prepared for the experience of the two-stroke’s savage powerband.
When the Japanese began their manufacturing onslaught, they were often perceived/portrayed as simple imitators, producers of budget crap that was great, if that’s all you could afford. But as their products eclipsed those produced by European manufacturers in terms of quality and reliability, they became less imitators and more innovators. And while bikes like Honda’s and Kawasaki’s big four-cylinder bikes allowed them to compete in the world motorcycle arena, they were still playing the game that had already existed, just playing it better.
But the two-stroke performance motorcycles from Japan ushered in a new era of motorcycle performance, and mirrored the musclecar virtues of cheap speed, with frightening fuel economy to match: figures below 20mpg are possible with a heavy throttle hand. While Suzuki’s two strokes were often tamed for the road to smooth the power delivery, make them more four-stroke-like in character, Kawasaki embraced the gnarly character of the stroker, and their killer rep led to success in the showroom.
Considering the power on tap, these never sound all that menacing in person: the crackle and pop of even a big, highly-tuned two-stroke still sounds like the world’s angriest lawnmower to me. But until recently, the fastest motorcycles in the world were 500cc two-strokes that left an angry, buzz-saw wail in their wake.
From the original eBay listing: 1972 Kawasaki H2 750 for sale
This is a 1972 Kawasaki H2 that has been restored to as new condition. The engine number is 22221 and the frame number is 22118. It is a museum quality restoration of every single piece. If the original piece could not be brought back to as new it was replaced with NOS. The seat, pipes, and front foot peg rubbers are reproduction(I installed the foot peg rubbers without realizing they were not NOS and I’m too lazy to change them). All of the metal parts were taken down to bare metal and either re-plated or painted. The painted parts have 2 coats of zinc-chromate primer, 1 coat of sandable primer, one coat of sealer and the correct paint. The hardware is all NOS as is most of the rubber pieces. It was painted with as close a match as I could find for the original Kawasaki Candy Blue, it’s 2 coats of silver-white pearl with 4 coats of candy blue, the decals and then 2 coats of clear. Every single date-coded part that came on this bike is still on it and so are the steel plugged handlebars. The crank has been rebuilt with slotted rods and the pistons are from Wossner pistons, rings and pins. The original CDI’s that are pictured in the bike are not in it now but will be included. I have a Lakeland box installed. It has Continental tubeless tires with tubes installed. The gauges were done be Don Fulsang. This bike is as new right down to the inside of the switch houses and including the original wiring harness. I have installed a lithium ion battery instead of a wet-acid battery. It’s a numbers matching bike and I have put 400 miles on it since the restoration and all the bugs are worked out, it’s ready to show or ride. This bike is tuned beautifully and runs like it should, scary. If you want a new 1972 Kawasaki H2 this is as close as you will get. The only flaws are the candy blue pooled a bit on the top of the side cover so when the seat is up you can see it. After you ride it hard and park it the transmission will leak a couple of drops and quit, I must have roughed up the transmission shaft seal when I installed the shaft, and the tool kit strap is incorrect although a NOS Kawasaki part, it’s the battery strap. If it bugs you it’s an easy fix. I did all the work on this bike myself, it took me 9 months to build and I could not count the hours. I built it because I wanted a new 1972 H2 and this was the only way to get one. I now have other triples to restore and don’t have time to ride this so it’s for sale. This bike has no disappointments. I don’t think you can buy one nicer.
The seller mentions that the color isn’t a perfect match for the original paint, but I think he’s being hypercritical: this is a really gorgeous bike, with a price tag that matches the preparation. I wouldn’t normally include a picture of the wiring, but you can see just how nice this example is. These have been steadily increasing in value for quite a while now and, while this is near the top of the range, the price doesn’t seem all that outrageous, since you could practically eat off the engine, it’s so clean.