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

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.”

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


james
5/14/2012 7:30:50 PM

As the owner of an 72 H-2 in 1974,I can attest to its wheelstanding tendencies whether deliberate or not.I guess the only reason I never had an accident was my extreme fear of this bikes tendency to stand up on its pretty blue tailet.Never had a problem with fowled plugs in the 15000 miles I put on it probably due to the 73 carbs my dealer installed.I have had many bikes since like a 73 Z-1,79 CBX and an 82 CBX that I rode all over the eastern half of the US.Not one of the bikes I had rode since have put such a healthy fear of getting hit on my chin by the instrument cluster as the bike tried to shoot out from underneath me!


lynn davidson
8/30/2011 8:05:01 PM

Unless you have some serious saddle time on big muscle bikes (or pissed off Brahma bulls) stay off this bike. This is an unapologetic slingshot with a narrow but frightening power band that will sneak up on you, and when it comes in to that narrow band as far as I know there is still nothing street legal even today that will better it, it's a straight line missile up to around 120 THAT CAN AND WILL KILL YOU! Notorious for high speed wobble and inadequate brakes it's the equivalent of a Yugo with a 454 rat engine. I've ridden my buddy's 03 Hayabusa, and it would eat the ol H2 up without a belch, BUT NOT IN THAT LITTLE TACH WEDGE WHERE MOST OF THE NUCLEAR FISSION TAKES PLACE!I almost never took it out without getting some kind of rush before I got back home. If there's any such thing as a legend among notorious bikes, this is it! I sold it many moons ago, but it was quite an experience.


lynn davidson
8/30/2011 2:24:51 AM

I had for about two years or so, a love/hate relationship with an over performing under engineered "750 widowmaker". I first rode it just to try it out for a friend. He found it in the classifieds and we went together to check it out, and while he rode it I stood around and talked to the owner, who said he was selling it because he wasn't prepared at the time to die! My friend was only gone for perhaps five minutes or so, and when he came back in he looked at me a little unsteadily, shaking his head he said not for me, you want to try it? At the time we were both riding 750 Honda's which were in their day a quite respectable performer so I said yeah what the hell, can't be that mean. Wrong. So I wheeled it out onto the roadway and fortunately (luckily) I resisted the impulse to roll the throttle on as fast as I normally might have and just gave it ample time to wind up to about third gear, then I kicked it in the ass and was rewarded by about five or six seconds of pure terror trying so hard to stay on the damn thing I couldn't release the throttle till I got my grip and seating re-established, by then I as coming into a forty mile per hour right hand curve at probably seventy or more with a pickup truck coming in the opposite direction. When I tried to lay the thing over it threatened to go squirrelly and I had no choice but to swing out in the other lane. The only reason I missed the truck was he was quick thinking enough to go off the pavement to avoid me. Great ol bike.


4arkie_2
3/3/2010 1:09:56 PM

My brother and I had these bikes and at the time it was King of the road. We took them to Daytona for bike week and I was never beaten by any other bike. They vibrated like HELL but were very fast. Smoked like a Thanksgiving Turkey but a LOT of fun! AWWWW those were the days. I am still riding.....but a little slower.


4arkie_2
3/3/2010 1:08:52 PM

My brother and I had these bikes and at the time it was King of the road. We took them to Daytona for bike week and I was never beaten by any other bike. They vibrated like HELL but were very fast. Smoked like a Thanksgiving Turkey but a LOT of fun! AWWWW those were the days. I am still riding.....but a little slower.






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