Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
Kawasaki H2 is all attitude. Bold graphics, upswept triple pipes and cool tailpiece all speak to the bike’s performance potential: Zero to 60mph comes in a blistering 4.1 seconds.
Photo by Robert Smith
Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
Years produced: 1972-1975
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 74hp @ 6,800rpm
Top speed: 120mph (period test)
Engine type: 748cc
Weight (dry): 205kg (450lb)
Price then: $1,386
Price now: $3,000-$4,500
The bugs are out in force today, I’m thinking, as I follow Dave Gurry’s 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750 along the back lanes of southwest British Columbia. Then I realize the spots on my visor aren’t bugs, they’re oil droplets carried in the blue haze that accompanies the big stroker wherever it goes.
Admittedly, Dave has “improved” the Kawasaki’s automatic lubrication system to allow extra oil into the engine. “I’d rather burn a little more oil than seize a piston,” he says. And given the price and availability of replacement parts should a blow-up occur inside the piston-port engine, Dave’s logic is impeccable.
Read Dave Gurry's review of owning and riding the 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750
Then again, anti-social behavior was part of the H2’s ethos. Designed for straight-shot performance in traffic signal drag races, power was paramount; everything else — noise, pollution, fuel consumption — was an afterthought.
The H2 had “only one purpose in life,” according to Kawasaki’s 1972 sales brochure — “To give you the most exciting and exhilarating performance.” It also mentioned how the H2 “demands the razor sharp reactions of an experienced rider,” and is “a machine you must take seriously.”
Seriously, indeed. Consider: Seventy-four explosive horsepower stuffed into a powerband only 2,800rpm wide; a frame better suited to a moped; fuel consumption that would drop below 20 miles per gallon; spark plugs that fouled in less than 10 minutes of city riding; and all this accompanied by clouds of blue smoke and the raucous ring-a-ding racket of a big air-cooled multi-cylinder two-stroke.
The motorcycling equivalent of the Sex Pistols, the Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750 stuck its middle finger firmly in the face of respectability when it burst onto the road in 1972. Essentially a scaled-up version of the Kawasaki H1 Mach III triple, with equally evil handling and similarly violent performance, the Mach IV was, in the hands of an inexperienced rider, an accident waiting to happen.
“Admiring it from a distance was safer than climbing aboard,” wrote Mac McDiarmid in his book Classic Superbikes. “The big Kawasaki’s uncompromising nature would quite possibly be outlawed today.”
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