Barber's Best

A virtual tour of the classic motorcycle collection on display at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala.

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1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III

3/28/2012 9:37:05 AM

Tags: Barber's Best, Kawasaki

1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III

1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III

Country: Japan
Engine: Air-cooled, 3-cylinder two-stroke
Ignition: Capacitor discharge ignition (CDI)
Power Rating: 60bhp @7,500rpm
Bore x Stroke: 60 x 59mm
Displacement: 499cc
Valves: None
Fuel System: Three 28mm Mikuni carburetors
Transmission: 5-speed
Suspension: Front telescopic forks, rear twin shocks
Brakes: Front and rear drum
Weight: 383lbs.
Top Speed: 120mph

1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III

When Kawasaki introduced the 500 H1 triple in 1969, it surprised everyone with its performance and price. For burn-outs, wheelies and quarter-mile times equal to or better than many 750cc machines, the H1 was "a lot of bang for the buck." At $995 buyers overlooked the high gas consumption, smokey exhaust and dubious handling. The two-stroke triple had arrived!

1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Mach III



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ktripkos
10/15/2015 10:05:05 AM
While I was stationed at NAS North Island in 1970 I bought an H1 with the Electric Blue paint job. I to encountered the dreaded tank slap on several occasions. These occurances would usually happen while cruising along at highway speeds. This seemed counter-intuitive at the time but by applying short bursts of throttle it would usually come out of it, If not you just hung on for dear life. A fellow motorcyclist in my squadron let me ride his 750SS Norton, the Norton was everything a motorcycle should be. It looked great, it sounded fantastic and it especially handled well. After I was discharged from the Navy I traded the H1 in for a brand new 850 Norton Interstate...no regrets. Badog Alley Racing

carboncrank
10/14/2015 3:15:21 PM
I owned one. Dubious handling is wrong. You have to put the bike in context. Power to weight ratio was highest of any production bike that had made before. Unless you had racing experience you didn't know how to handle the throttle in high speed turns. Apply to much throttle mid or late turn and the front would go light and it would feel like you're headed for the weeds. Overreact by backing out of the throttle too much, weight returns to the front wheel and it bites. There is your speed wobble. It was in the rider’s right hand from the beginning. I had it happen a couple of time early on and it did scare the crap out of me, but realized why it happened. With the revs up you had to be very careful with the throttle. It wasn't the fault of the bike if you treated it like an on-off switch. Other bikes of the day may have felt more comfortable turning but it's not like they were going around an H-1 in the turns. People who took one or two rides on an H-1 and condemned them were totally unfair. Those that rode them for years (as I did, and then had an H2) learned how to manage their right hand, and watched literally every other bike disappear in the mirrors.

JP
1/31/2014 10:58:06 AM
seen a GSXR400 chassis with one of the Kawi triples stuffed into it. Was said to go like stink, handle well, and was quite light.

vulcan
1/24/2014 8:34:41 PM
My dad owns a 1969 mach 3 500 with 2000,00 original miles on it looks like new and even has a new gas tank still in the box. He was a Kawasaki dealer for 35 years.

Michael Thomas
4/6/2012 1:31:49 AM
A true time capsule, I collect these great machines. The Kawasaki Mach III 1969 is one of the rarest bikes to find today. Bringing a whopping $15,000.00 dollars restored.

BOB HADDEN
4/5/2012 3:29:05 PM
Yea, dubious handling is right. I first rode one of these in '73. Slingshot acceleration, but spaghetti forks. Some time later a friend who worked at the local Kawi shop brought home the 750cc version. I almost needed a seatbelt to stay on the thing it pulled so strong, but at just under 90mph it went into a "high speed" wobble and scared the you know what out of this 19 year old kid. I wonder how many riders lost some skin,or worse, on these things. By the way, my Kawi friend got rid of it in short order and was soon on a KZ...



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