Kawasaki H2 Mach IV

Fast, loud, rude and a little unstable, the Kawasaki H2 Mach IV was a rebel in its time. Today it’s a prized motoring heirloom.

| July/August 2006

  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV engine
    The Kawasaki H2 is all attitude. Bold graphics, upswept triple pipes and cool tailpiece all speak to the bike's performance potential.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • profile rear view of Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
    The H2 could go 0 to 60mph comes in a blistering 4.1 seconds.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • rider on Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
    Considered a terror in its day, the H2 looks lean compared to today’s sport bikes and has aged well. While the H2’s reputation for poor handling was mostly deserved, it’s a reasonable machine at normal speeds.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV engine
    Engine detail.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV gas tank and gauges
    Bikes were equipped with a speedometer and tachometer.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • profile front view of Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
    Parked and ready to tear up the road.
    Photo by Robert Smith

  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV engine
  • profile rear view of Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
  • rider on Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV engine
  • Kawasaki H2 Mach IV gas tank and gauges
  • profile front view of Kawasaki H2 Mach IV

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
MPG: 18-28

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.”

Charles of Perth
6/1/2019 12:49:55 AM

I had one of the very first sold in California.....Long time ago but I think it was late '71....The local Kawasaki d dealer was C.H. Wheat who was also a well-known US Kawasaki racer.....His son was a school-mate and we were good friends....I was in the USMC at the time this came out and I really wanted one so I told Chuck Wheat - CH's son....when they arrive I want one......Up till then we were both huge Kawasaki fans....I had before the H2, a Kawasaki 350 with after-market air-injectors.....Not sure of the horse-power (have to thank the guys at the March AFB metal shop for fitting them - don't tell their CO....).....Certainly well over 50hp.....It was leaving the Honda 450's for dead at the time....Anyway.....The H2 was the most amazing bike I have ever owned.....Much much more torque than the 350....It was pure adrenalin riding it.....the first hour....after that it got tedious with the vibration.....and the noise.....and the stops at the gas stations.....But for short trips and winding roads....unbeatable....I had issues within months with the motor mounts....and as luck would have it - my late brother was a super welder who did welding on dragsters etc.....He rewelded the lot and beefed them up considerably.....the welds were over twice as thick and never had a problem again....Now the war story.... I got sent to a base in Japan in early 72....My parents lived about 80 miles from Pendleton....so I asked my father to take care of it....He had never drove a motorcycle in his life.....and he was in his late 40's then....I slowly on weekends taught him how to drive the 'Widowmaker'.......And I left for Japan with him being able to ride it amazingly well. He knew how much power was there - and he drove it very conservatively. I instructed him to drive it at least once a month while I was gone....and he did....sometimes much more - because he like it....As luck would have it....Within a month of arriving in Japan - I got sent to Vietnam (mostly Bien Hoa) and was there until the ceasefire became obvious. I came back and my H2 was still in great condition - not a scratch - and my father was in love with it......Happy memories of the H2....I do think a lot about getting another one.....


william
6/22/2015 9:22:23 PM

this bike was one of the all time best owned one for many years.As for being not safe thats bunk my bike could corner with no flex in the frame whatsoever with a matched set of perrellis on it and roller bearings in the swing arm instead of bushings it was great . i had the 74 which was 4 inchs longer then the 72 and 73 wiseco pistons bill wereges expansion chambers it was fast indeed had a lot of fun on that bike they were great indeed


PADDY JOHNSON
7/17/2012 5:49:39 PM

The bike's frame was a wee bit flexible. Eventually, I learned to accelerate in to corners to allow the chain firm up the bike. Paddy




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