A History Lesson – The original Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV 73

The new Kawasaki H2 which is set to be unveiled at Intermot in Cologne,Germany is now the buzz of the industry. Kawasaki is expected to unveil a range of H2 bikes at Intermot at the end of this month. So, what is all the buzz about? Forced induction triples to bump up power figures for the power hungry consumer. Is this new? Where did it all start? It is not the first time the “H” code has been used for a model series.

There was a time back in the late 60s to the 80s, when Kawasaki was producing triples ranging from 250cc to 750cc. The engines were air cooled three cylinder, two-strokers with two exhKawasaki-H1-500-MachIII-70aust pipes exiting on the right side of the bike, and one on the left. Right from the first triple model, the 1969 Mach III H1 500cc, the motorcycle gained the record for being the quickest for its engine size. From 1972 through 1975, the Kawasaki sold the H2 Mach IV which was also a 750 cc three cylinder two-stroker. A standard, factory produced H2 was able to do the quarter mile in 12.0 seconds. In its day, this motorcycle became the undisputed “king of the streets” beating legendary muscle cars on American streets.

kawasaki_h1_mach_3

 

It handled better than the notoriously dangerous Mach lll, nicknamed the “Widow maker”, that preceded it. By the standards of its time, its handling was sufficient to make it the production bike to beat on the race track. Nonetheless, its tendency to pull wheelies and a less than solid feel through high speed corners led to adjustments to the design as it evolved. Which brought about the nickname “The Wheelie King”. More than any other model, it created Kawasaki’s reputation for building “scarily fast, good-looking, no holds barred motorcycles” and led to a further decline in the market place of the British motorcycle industry.

This is what Kawasaki seems to be rekindling with the latest H2 campaign.

In 2013, Kawasaki revealed a new engine at the Tokyo Motor Show. 1000cc with a centrifugal supercharger. It was estimated that mildly boosted (5 psi (34 kPa) engine of that displacement would generate 203 horsepower (151 kW). It was suspected by industry experts that Kawasaki would use a two speed supercharger for this application, and Kawasaki patent documents suggested the engine would rely on evaporative cooling using port fuel injection, instead of a bulky intercooler.

Kawasaki already has a production inline-4 supercharged (but intercooled) engine powering the Jet Ski Ultra 300X personal watercraft (300 horsepower), but this would be the first supercharged engine designed by a motorcycle manufacturer.

History lessons aside, in the very near future all eyes will be at the Kawasaki booth at Intermot in Cologne, Germany as they unveil the H2 range. We will see if they still have what it takes to build a “scarily fast, good-looking, no holds barred motorcycles”.

 

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