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MC Dispatch

Reader-submitted rides, reviews and stories

1974 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV Restoration

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Editor's note: Dave Gurry’s review of owning and riding a 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV  generated some good comments including the following from reader Peter Hickman. Peter spared no cost in completely restoring his 1974 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV. We asked him to tell us more about the project and he responded with the following:   

I purchased the Kawasaki from a person in Wisconsin and did the restoration. I am a certified aircraft mechanic, which I think was very helpful in the resto. I stripped the bike piece by piece, cleaned, zip-locked and tagged all salvageable parts and bid for the rest of the NOS parts from all over the world on eBay.

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All the black parts were powder-coated with either gloss or satin finishes by a firm in New Hampshire and all the chrome was sent to another firm in Tennesse. The paint was done in Canada by Brad at BK Custom Coatings. The paint works hand-in-hand with the decals I bought from Reproduction Decals. I installed a thin clear 3M headlight protector to the rear lower portion of the fuel tank to keep the paint from being rubbed of when closing the seat. The expansion chambers were hand-built by David Higgs of Higgspeed located in England (he has my bike displayed on his website under the H-Series Link).

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I have changed certain things on the bike to modernize it including: 
• Lower forks were powdercoated with black satin. 
• Oil dipstick was powdercoated with black gloss. 
• Seat side rail and back bar were powdercoated with black gloss. 
• Rear engine mounts were powdercoated with black gloss. 
• Rear inner drum was powdercoated with black satin. All these changes were made to eliminate the old all metal look and make the bike more attractive and modern.

I also added a right hand front brake which involved the machining of a left stock caliper and hand-bending a new brake line to wrap around the fork. The rest of the brake lines were custom made in Ohio by Speigler and the disks were drilled with 70 holes per disk out in Oregon. The rear threaded brake rod adjuster was fitted with a carb vacuum boot (those threads at the end of the rod always looked unfinished to me). I rebuilt the engine myself with five over pistons and Damon Kirkland, "The Crank God," down in Alabama, rebuilt the crankshaft.

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This was the first bike I have restored. I used to own one of these in high school back in ’74 and always loved it! This bike took the first place trophy in the one and only bike show I have been to.

View more photos of Peter's restoration 

mc staff
2/16/2011 4:59:18 PM

Thanks for the question, Lyn. To quote Peter from a comment on a previous article: "25K invested, not one detail overlooked."

lyn lopez
2/10/2011 7:28:21 PM

How much is actually in the bike - it would be interesting to know.

gordon j cerniglia
2/3/2011 12:09:25 PM

In reading your article on the 1974 Kawasaki restoration, I am reminded of an experience I had on a 1973 bike of the same model. I owned a 1972 500 Kawasaki and a friend of mine had a 1973 which had changed styling to that of the 1974 you show. He asked one day to switch bikes on a ride and I was riding the '73 in a straight line on a super highway and at 100 mph it went into a speed wobble that I didn't think I would get out of. My natural reaction was to just get off the gas and hold on. At about 80 mph it just straightened out back to normal. I heard after that occurence that some of the 500's had excess clearance in the swing arm bushings that would create the wobble at high speed. My 1972 never exhibited the problem but I hope your restorer checked those bushings. Gordon Cerniglia, Malta, NY