Here in 2022, many fans of motorcycle history know the outline of the original Kawasaki H2. In the early 1970s, the magic three-digit code seemed to be 750 among several OEMs, so Team Green had to find a way to stand out from the pack. 750cc, but do it fast.
Of course, this speed depends on the context, like most other things related to motorcycle technology and how it has developed over time. This is something I often consider, especially when it comes to bikes that were big business (capitalization intentional) long before I was born. Of course, I can try to absorb the opinions of people who experienced it when it was new. However, unless someone invents a time machine, I’ll never be able to have that experience for myself – and even riding that same bike now won’t help me.
It seems to be part of what The world of cycling Chris Northover (former BSB racer and bike enthusiast since childhood) wrestles with him as he gazes at this stunning 1975 Kawasaki H2. It is, as he says, a bike where his experience has been seeing pictures of his dad and his dad’s buddies when they were young, whipping this bike and others of the era for fun. It’s not something he grew up with, or had personal memories or experiences of.
The original H2’s reputation as “the widower” preceded it over the years, so much so that you almost can’t think of “H2” without hearing “you know, the widower” in your head shortly after. . This air-cooled two-stroke triple was an engineering marvel in its day, but the handling and brakes in no way matched its insane (for its time) horsepower.
So, as Northover says, the riding experience is completely different from any modern bike. You have to reconsider almost everything about how you ride it, from the start-up procedure to early anticipation of every little move you’re going to make on the thing.
It’s not a bike you just think about cornering or you won’t have a good time. You could seriously injure yourself. Even though it’s a last generation H2 – where the flaws of the first generation H2s have already been ironed out – it’s still more than a handful to handle on the road in a straight line, let alone cornering . Also, keep in mind that the bike in this video was fitted with modern rubber, which is already a huge leap from what it could have had anytime new.
This purple colorway is admittedly gorgeous, though. Would you ride one if you could? Have you ridden or do you own any of these classics?