"Widowmaker" or "rodeo bike." The revolutionary Kawasaki H1-500 cc three-cylinder got those nicknames for a reason. In the course of their short existence, the machines became a little less explosive, but they have never become fine touring models. That was also not Kawasaki's approach.
Kawasaki had chosen 'power and speed' to distinguish itself from the competition.
Kawasaki - H1-500
The first of the legendary Kawasaki 3 cylinders, was the H1-500 that came on the market in 1969, and made the entire motorcycle world shiver due to its enormous performance. The 500 cc machine was allowed to deliver no less than 60 hp according to 'the requirements book' of Kawasaki and had to be able to complete the quarter mile with a standing start within 13 seconds. was unprecedented.
But these machines soon got the nickname widowmaker or rodeobike because of the rather ferocious incoming power and lagging qualities of the chassis. And what is now called 'wheely' was then called 'climbing the chain'. A rear-end chassis was a Japanese trend at the time. The engine blocks were 'too fast' for the bicycle parts.
The Kawasaki H1-500 had some limitations
With the Kawasaki, the pain was mainly in the poor rear suspension and damping and the use of nylon bushes in the rear fork. Those buses were often worn out within a few hundred brave kilometers. The Kawasaki H1 was a lot better to drive with a pair of Koni's and bronze bushes, although the frame was no wonder of torsional rigidity.
They became more civilized. Slightly more civilized
The savage features of the later models were refined and these are wonderful machines to drive on, while retaining the character of these two-stroke models. But it never became real competitors for the then current line of BMW boxers.
The Kawasaki H1-500 now and then
In the meantime, such a shocking projectile from the past is now a small, slender motorcycle. The line is almost like that of a Chinese brush drawing. The heart of the machine? That is emphatically the air-cooled three-cylinder that sounds running at no load as if three angry two-stroke motocross bikes are muttering in front of them.
The Dutch Kawasaki importer Henk Vink already used the machine in March 1969 at the sprints in Uden, where he won the standard class up to 500 cc on a motorcycle with lighting and (dealer's) license plate, but he just didn't stay under the 13 seconds who was the guideline of the factory. But Henk Vink was also shaped differently than a substandard Japanese test driver. But Vink set the second time of the day.
Only 1000 cc was faster
Only Jan Maas with his 1.000 cc JAP in the 'Specials above 650 cc' class was faster. On the sprint strip it was no point. But 'in the wild' the Kawasaki H1 was very thirsty. The fuel consumption was on average such an 1 on 10 and with a fuel tank of 15 liter capacity, it was therefore often necessary to refuel. Those who really had an active right hand could even halve the action radius. H 1 - 500 Mach III was the first - standard engine with electronic ignition.
And there the law of the braking lead applied again: in Germany the model did not receive type approval because the electronic ignition caused interference with the television signal. With the current range of TV programs that would be a blessing.
Scarce and wanted
These Kawasaki's are currently scarce and sought after. They are scarce because there is an above average number of accidents on public roads or on circuits. They are wanted because they are the most spectacular examples from the short period that fast, heavy two-strokes were 'hot'. In the Netherlands, on Texel, the Smitbros company is an international pilgrimage type for Kawa fans. The company is run by Hans and Alfons Smit, two very fanatic enthusiasts of engines and technology. I once bought a Kawasaki H1 with a Robinson brake with eight ascending shoes and expansion exhausts for 800 guilders. That was no topper. Now think for a top copy of amounts up to 17.000-20.000 euros
3 cyl. 2T air-cooled, thyristor ignition, bore x stroke: 60 × 58,5; 498 cc; 3x Mikuni 28 mm; 60 pk / 7500 rpm .; 5 acc .; double cradle frame, wheels: front; 3.25 × 19, rear; 4.0 × 18, tank volume 15 1; 195 km / hour.
Thanks to Smitbros / Texel