Kawasaki H1 Mach III

Kawasaki H1 Mach III

Produced between 1969 and 1976 in a range of sizes from 250 to 750cc, they really don't make bikes like this any more. They couldn't even if they wanted to, because two-strokes are now effectively banned from the roads on public health grounds.

Kawasaki's late-1968 launch of the Mach III, aka H1, a three-cylinder environmental disaster waiting to happen. It's a slight understatement to say that the new triple was a slight contrast to the company's other big bike, which was basically a copy of the stodgy old BSA A10 650. More in the same vein, from 1966 Big K had produced a couple of high-performance stroker twins, the 250 Samurai and 350 Avenger. Thanks to disc valve induction, the latter was probably at least as fast as the replica Beesa, and not far behind the fastest large-capacity machines of the era.

An expanded version was a possibility, but other Japanese manufacturers - principally Suzuki and Yamaha - were also churning out rapid two-stroke twins. Kawasaki decided to get one up on the opposition and produce a triple. Generally speaking, the more cylinders, the more power, because piston area increases, while the reciprocating parts get lighter, which allows higher revs. Kawasaki's solution firstly involved the obvious step of using extensive finning all over the top end of the engine. Direct oil injection also helped, being a more efficient and less messy way of lubricating a stroker than pre-mix. Incredible but true, the other cooling method commonly adopted in those distant days was to use a far richer fuel mixture than strictly necessary.

Kawasaki H1 Mach III Kawasaki H1 Mach III

By the time the H1 turned into the H1-A and H1-B in 1972, the distribution situation had improved slightly, but the now infamous triples were still very rare. Luckily for cowering wimps, by this stage some of the edge had been taken off the powerband and the handling was generally a bit less wild. The styling was also looking less quaint.

General characteristics

Engine: Air cooled, two stroke, transverse three cylinder

Capacity: 498

Bore x Stroke: 60 х 58.8 mm

Compression Ratio: 6.8:1

Induction: 3x Mikuni VM28SC carbs

Ignition / Starting: - / kick

Max Power: 60 hp @ 7500 rpm

Max Torque: 5.85 kgf-m @ 7000 rpm

Transmission / Drive: 5 Speed / chain

Front Suspension: Telescopic Hydraulic forks

Rear Suspension: Dual shocks, Swing arm

Front Brakes: Single 296mm disc

Rear Brakes: Drum

Front Tyre: 3.25-19

Rear Tyre: 4.00-18

Dry-Weight: 174 kg

Fuel Capacity: 15 Litres

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