“There's nothing quite like the shriek of a Kawasaki two-stroke triple being given some stick. If Hannibal Lecter practised dentistry, this is the sort of noise that would be coming from his surgery"!
The world was a very different place in the 1960’s and how people SAW the world was vastly different than we see it now.The legendary Kawasaki H1, while a groundbreaking titan in it’s day, would shock even the most environmentally jaded with it’s Man vs. Food fuel appetite and coal factory-like exhaust emissions.
Environmental issues, being “green” were the last thing anyone thought of when these bikes were developed. Speed was the number one consideration and whatever it took to build a fast bike was acceptable. Safety issues rode bitch to the idea of a faster machine.
And build a fast machine is exactly what Kawasaki did.
Over the course of fourteen months, their engineers overcame a slew of design obstacles, from how to keep the middle cylinder of the new triple cool, to completely new frame and tire designs in order to withstand the tremendous increase in horsepower over previous designs. (Think earth-quaking vibrations and skads of bald tires.)
Setting out with the intent to build the “fastest bike in the world”, the engineers were no doubt stoked with the results when their pilot model easily cruised the 190 km/h. (118 mph) Sake for everyone!
Finally, after applying every last ounce of its available technical know-how, Kawasaki produced the first ever H1 (MACH III) in September 1968. They then shipped samples of the new machine to every corner of the globe where it was universally welcomed with praise by all the best trade publications and commentators.
No-one who’s ever ridden an H1 has ever come away being disappointed - assuming they lived to tell about it. With so much power it didn’t take long for them to earn the reputation of being death machines. If you dared open the throttle and weren’t prepared for the nut blast of power at 6000rpm, pavement became your dance partner. We won’t even talk about turning and handling.
But danger and voracious fuel consumption (20 - 25 mpg) didn’t deter buyers as they fell in love with luminous whiteness of its body, accented by dark blue stripes along its tank, shining asymmetrical triple mufflers, and powerful engine with maximum output of 60ps / 7,500rpm and maximum torque of 8.5kg-m / 7,000rpm.
At a retail price of just $995 bucks ( the average 750cc bike was going for $1400 at the time) the H1 became an instant, overnight success.
Building on this success, Kawasaki began developing plans to release a four-stroke engine - that is until Honda dropped the CB 750-Four on the motorcycle world and sent ‘em all back to the drawing board.