The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Bike: 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
Owner: Dave Gurry
Hometown: Langley, BC
Occupation: Glass store manager
Bio: To the uninformed outsider, Dave Gurry might seem to be a fanatic. But to those who understand the lure of motorcycles, he’s simply a passionate collector with a vision. Dave keeps a mental list of the bikes he considers the most significant of those produced in the last 40 years or so, and has set out to acquire an example of each. His collection now includes a Honda CBX, Honda VFR750R and Honda CB400 Four, a highly tuned Norton Commando Roadster, a BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar and a 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV, among others. Why did he want to own and restore an H2? “In 1972, it was THE performance bike,” says Dave. “Just the sound and feel of a big two-stroke accelerating ... ”
So determined was Dave to own and restore one that he started collecting parts for it five years before he found the bike. His patience paid off when he discovered a shabby but mostly together H2 in 1995. With used parts collected from as far away as Europe, he completed the restoration at a budget price. “I probably have around $3,000 into it,” he says.
Etc.: Dave Gurry admits the steering of his first-year 1972 H2 isn’t all it could be, in spite of the Kawi having two steering dampers, one friction-type and one hydraulic. “If I turn the handlebars at about 40mph,” he says, “I can see the frame bending at the front of the gas tank. The handling is wickedly poor. In a straight line it’s okay, but in corners it flexes a lot.”
Dave points out a couple of other H2 curiosities to me. Under the seat is a small plunger that squirts oil on the final drive chain — as though the mist from the exhaust wasn’t enough! And the gearshift is another Seventies oddity. Instead of neutral being between first and second gear, it’s below first. So shifting from neutral to first requires lifting the pedal, then the same for first to second, and so on. And neutral comes after first as you downshift. It takes some getting used to, says Dave, especially mixed with a Norton Commando and later Japanese bikes.
New parts for H2s are either unobtainable or hideously expensive. Take exhausts, for example. Dave chose to use the pipes that came with his bike, even though the fastidious would quickly spot a small dent. New 3-into-3 pipes cost $800 U.S. each! Another problem part is the Mitsubishi CD ignition system. They’re simply not available new, and finding used ones that work is almost impossible. Dave has yet to track down a correct rear fender (the one fitted is too short), rear reflectors and some aluminum trim, though he has recently acquired a “new old stock” seat. The handlebars are also lower than stock. In spite of this, the Kawi won first in its class at the Seattle Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts show on Vashon Island in 2001.
Outrageous in every way, Dave’s restored bike is just as antisocial now as it was in 1972.