Fastest Accelerating Bike? 1975 Kawasaki H2 750

Internal combustion engines usually have an even number of cylinders; lawnmowers and motorcycles are frequently a single, or a bike can be a double too. Fours, in-line sixes, V6s and V8s are the province of cars and trucks. There has been the occasional V10, and V12’s abounded at one-time in high-end, uber-expensive automobiles. Odd numbers? Not so much so though Audi produced a five-cylinder and Saab had a three many years ago. But three cylinders did find its way to motorcycles and that arrangement proved to be a very successful architecture for Kawasaki back in the ’70s. I know that I haven’t seen a member of Kawasaki’s “Triple” Mach series in years so when this 750 CC H2 Mach IV turned up, I thought it worth a look-see. Located in Marietta, South Carolina is this 1975 Kasawki H2 750 and it is available here on eBay for a current bid of $13,500, eighteen bids tendered as of this writing.

The Kawasaki “Triple” was produced between 1968 and 1980 displacing 250, 350, 500, and 750 CCs. I specifically recall a college friend who had a “Mach II” 350 CC variant, bought new in 1972. I rode it once and remember it to be a very, very fast bike, surprisingly so for its modest displacement. The 500 CC was deemed the Mach III with the top dog “Mach IV” at 750 CC. Officially, Kawasaki referred to the ’75 version of the 750 CC as model “H2C”.

The heart of the Triple series is the two-stroke, three-cylinder engine, in this case, a 750 CC unit that generates 74 HP. Fast? You bet, tests of the time measured the quarter-mile ET in under 13 seconds. The service personnel at the Atlanta Motorcycle Works, who performed the last maintenance on this bike, claimed “ It was one of the best running original condition H2’s they have seen”. Pretty high praise indeed! I recall criticism of the time directed at the relatively brief life cycle of a Triple’s engine and thus, the reason that so few have survived. I would ask for some comments on that front as to whether this is a legitimate claim or not. This H2C has experienced about 7K miles of operation in its 45-year existence.

The seller states, “The original paint is in stunning condition with no dents, dings, or fading”. This bike does present itself very well. It is extremely clean and though referenced as having its original paint, it looks a little too good to be original but we’ll go with the seller’s claim. There is no evidence of this Mach IV having been dropped or laid down – the chrome, tank, covers, and engine components are in fantastic condition.

There is no reference to the operational aspect of the gauges, lights, turn signals, etc. but based on this Kawasaki’s condition, it’s safe to assume that they work as intended. Note the seat upholstery, it is perfect!

It was just a matter of time before a Kawasaki Triple turned up, especially considering how ubiquitous they were at one time – these were the performance bargain of the ’70s! What is unexpected is that the subject, when it finally surfaced, would be in such stellar condition – this bike is probably as close to new as you’ll ever find. The price seems a bit rich but it’s unlikely that another, in this condition, will surface, so maybe the price isn’t out of line. What do you think? After all, in 1972, the Mach IV was considered the fastest accelerating production motorcycle in existence; here’s your chance to own a piece of that ’70s experience.

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Comments

  1. robj Member

    I had a ’77 Triumph 750 and a friend had the 350 version of this. He would literally run away from me at a stoplight. At least until the first curve. None of these triples were known for their stopping or cornering ability. And as I recall a bit of a white knuckle ride even going straight. But they were sure fast in a straight line.

    7
    • Mack

      Fast is not the word for these bikes,I had H-2 750 17 yrs old not my first bike but man 750 Honda’s stood no chance and by the way$ 1599.00

      5
  2. 370zpp

    The miles look legit on this one based on the pics.

    The first Kawi triple was the 500 Mach III. $995.00 brand new. Amazing bike for the time, very fast- and the sound it made winding up was simply unforgettable.

    8
    • will Irby

      Yep, that was the bargain of the decade. 60 horsepower from a 500 cc bike was unheard of in ’69, and yes, the sound–oh, the sound!

      4
      • patrick

        Will i had a 74 h-2 with danko chambers and 40 over wisco pistons in it. There was a reason the chain had no master link as over 3500 on the tach it got warp drive and wanted to carry the front wheel. Should have never sold it.

        5
      • Will Irby

        I had several friends who rode 350, 500, and 750 triples with chambers, porting work, etc. on the street. I could hear them coming from miles away!

        8
      • Howard A Member

        Large air cooled 2 strokes, especially these, exhibit a noise called “fin ringing”. Due to the large surface area of the fins to cool it, a lot of the noise you hear is fin ringing. It’s why some big 2 strokes have rubber pads in the fins.

        6
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      I still remember sitting in class in high school
      after lunch,& hearing the wail of a Mach III winding
      it up.

      1
  3. james malone Member

    The rumour was that the Mach III’s were so quickly slapped together, that if you rolled one off the showroom floor, the tolerances would already call for a rebuild. Didn’t matter though, even worn out they were stupid fast. Brakes and handling reputation was well deserved! Rode an early 500 once in a parking lot, and it was so scary I didn’t bother taking it on the street!

    4
    • Tman

      I owned a 70 Mach III. Took very good care of it. Never took it to the strip but beat many cars in stoplight racing. Mine last >42,000 miles. 8 chains, 2 top ends@ 19 and 35,000 mi, 1 bottom end (worn crank)@ 27,000 mi along with a 5th gear. 3 clutches but never left me stranded. Minor suspension upgrades. Oh the memories. Sold it in 1975.

      2
  4. whmracer99

    There are standing arguments about which one (500cc or 750cc) was the official “widowmaker” but both were scary fast but best used only in a straight line. My brother-in-law bought one and scared himself so badly a couple months after he bought it that he never rode it again. I used to ride it a couple times a year just to keep the fluids stirred up. First time I rode it I came out of a stop sign, turned left, accelerated and the bike picked the front end off the ground when it came “on the pipes” at a little over 5k rpms in the middle of the turn. Learned real quick to be respectful but OH MY, in a straight line those things would fly and the noise they made when they got past 5k rpms was a song I’ve never heard repeated (the youtube videos don’t do it justice). You don’t see many around in decent shape and I wonder how many ended up rolled into balls by folks who’s bravery exceeded their skill level.

    8
    • stanley kwiecinski

      used to watch street racing in chicago mid 70s clown on his 750 would wheelie back and fourth. he was good! lost it once ground his hands done to the bone. bike was destroyed. being a dip i bought a 250 cheap. never got it to run. maybe while i’m still pecking? old 1974 FXE is all i need.

      2
  5. Dave

    Actually, Triumph and Yamaha (among others) made triples. Yamaha’s was the XS850, a shaft driven UJM that a ton of folks went touring on until the XS1100 came along. Triumph’s was called the Trident, IIRC.

    3
    • Will Irby

      Yep, Suzuki also made two-stroke triples: 380, 550, and 750.

      5
      • MrBZ

        My personal favorite, the Water Buffalo!

        2
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Yep my dad had a 380 first and moved up to the 550. He and his buddies rode out of Dallas to Mexico and back when he had the 380 – they had a sound too….

    • Husky

      And BSA version of the Trident was called Rocket III.

      3
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I owned a Yamaha XS750F Triple. Certainly nothing like the subject bike, but was great fun, and fast.

      1
    • Gus Fring

      Those were not two-strokes…a two-stroke 750 puts out, roughly, the power of a 1500 cc four-stroke engine.

      • Will Irby

        The Suzukis were two-strokes.

  6. michael streuly

    I had a 750 triple motor in a wasp sidecar motocross chassis. It was a hell of a lot of fun. One of the problems they had was with the middle cylinder getting really hot.

    3
  7. Steven

    I test drove a new 750cc in 73. Front end came off the ground at every stop sign and did 60mph down the first city block. Took it back and told the salesmen he was crazy for letting me drive it and it was to dangerous to ride. Went back and bought it two days later. Did 120mph between Denver and Boulder more then once. Rode it for a couple of years.Sold it before I killed myself. Fantastic dangers motorcycle.

    8
  8. Howard A Member

    These always bring a slew of comments. The reason this particular bike has such low miles, is it probably scared the sxxx out of someone. They really were poor motorcycles. My neighbor bought a new 500, and while it was a thrill ( above 5 grand) it handled poorly, needed better brakes, and after a while, it was the same as an old Detroit diesel, a PITA. Probably the fastest 750 made, but there were faster bikes, as if we needed to go any faster. I think the Suzuki 1000 was the fastest. That, or the CBX, kind of splitting hairs there. They were fun bikes until the center cylinder stuck from running hot. Might want to watch out for that. I wonder where you’d get parts? I doubt Kawasaki would be any help. Have to be the internet. Parts for older Asian bikes are hard to find.

    2
    • Howard A Member

      Hmm, comments on the old H-D closed? What’s that all about? geomechs did happen to sneak one in, but if someone bad mouthed a sellers vehicle, and caused the comments to close, that person should be banned from the site. Anyway, I said, it’s comical you have both ends of the motorcycle spectrum on the same page. Can you imagine blasting past the H-D rider shifting into 5th at 100 mph on this? I know, you had to start somewhere. Just amazing the transition.

      3
      • Stevieg Member

        I missed a Harley? That sucks!

  9. Jay E.

    I too am one of the “one time”, (actually two) time riders that had the crap scared out of me on one of these. They really woke up with aftermarket tuned pipes and some engine mods. Turning was iffy at best, especially if they came on the pipe mid corner. Awesome sound.

    1
  10. Mike1955

    Drag raced bikes in early to mid 70’s. Started with a 500 Suzuki Titan, (twin, 2 stroke) and eventually a Honda 750. I don’t really remember the Kawasaki triples being in the winner circle all that often in 1/4 mile. They were crazy quick though!

    3
    • Lindy

      The Suzuki Titan was my beginner bike. fantastic acceleration, average handling, zero brakes and lucky to survive.

  11. Greg Yancey

    I had 2 of the 500 Mach 3…a blue 1971 and an orange 1972 that I bought new. The 72 had the first disc brake that Kawasaki put on the 500’s. I drag raced the 1971 in Fremont, Ca in stock class. Ran against Honda 750’s and never lost a race that I can remember. I put well over 10k on the 72 on the street and never had any problem with it outside of tuneups…Kawasaki was having trouble with their electronic ignition prior to 72 so they went with triple points for that year while they redesigned for 73. The bikes were not good handlers with that famous ‘hinge’ in the frame feeling but ridden with respect they could carve well enough that the acceleration could close the gaps riding with other bikes. I loved them both.

    2
    • Tonywa28

      Had a 72 orange one myself. I agree with your comments exactly. A set of chambers made for a peaky ride and the nastiest idle. So much popping and snorting. Bent the internal shift selector shaft popping second great wheelies, but that was on me, not the bike… Loved it.

      1
  12. Saabatical

    I put a Yoshimura 592 kit into a Honda 550/4 My buddy had a Kawasaki 500 triple. And told me all I’d see was his tail light. He bowed to me after I cleaned his clock. Lol.

    1
  13. jcinvt

    Never rode a 750 but a 350(?) That had some work I believe to be the fastest bike I have ever driven

  14. Randolph Dull

    My first 2 wheeled drag race was against one of these with my ’75 Z1B 900. It was close, from a 20 mph roll, but the 900 outran it. From a stand still, the 750 might have pulled it off. Very respectable machines.

  15. A.J.

    A friend I served with back in the day bought one of these. He owned it for three weeks and rode it twice. Scared him so bad he traded it on a BMW.

  16. dar

    Yep I borrowed a 750 Kawasaki freshman year high school. I was warned by the bike owner to be extra careful but I had to find out for myself exactly how quick. Near the high school I pushed forward on the seat almost sitting on the tank and braced my legs on the foot pegs then while rolling cracked open the throttle in 2nd gear. Sure enough the rear tire smoked and the front wheel raised off the ground as the bike accelerated away. Never again doubted the bike owner or ever rode another one.

    2
  17. Houseofhotrods

    I had a twin to this in almost as nice condition for a few months about ten years ago, it sold on eBay for 5k and I was pretty happy at that – found it on the Oregon coast, I figured if I wanted to live to see my children grown and grandkids, if better sell it. It went back east somewhere. In high school in the 70’s I’d had Yamaha 2 strokes, R5, RD 350, RD400 etc, definite wheelie machines. The problem for me with the H2’s was the “death wobble” at speed more than the wheelies. There was a stabilizer of sorts – you can see it in the first pic just forward of the bottom of the gas tank, so that wobble must’ve been a known Kawi problem. They were also known for ‘spitting off’ a rider that was unsuspecting of what would happen when you wicked the throttle hard in first gear!!

    1
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I also had an RD400. I figured that was the end of my 2 stroke days because the only place to go after that was one of these Kawasakis. Opted for the XS750 instead.

      1
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I was wrong. I had a DT400, single cylinder 2 stroke enduro bike. A bike that was mostly happy only at WOT.

        Lots of fun to kick start.

    • Tman

      They tried to keep them as light as possible. Skinny forks so the middle cyl. wouldn’t overheat. Not enough frame bracing made them wobble

      1
  18. Pietro

    Widowmaker but also dubbed Flying Coffin. Incredible accelerating power but impossible to handle in the smoothest curves. When power bikes were young this issues were one of the more frequent growth diseases.

  19. Dave Mathers

    Fastest accelerating? 13 seconds? Really? I bought a brand new 1966 Triumph 650 Bonneville and it ran high 12s. I bought a brand new 73 Kawasaki 900 and it ran high 11s. My 84 900 Ninja ran low 11s and my Harley Classic ran 15s!! LMAO

    • Will Irby

      I think the title of the article was based on the statement within the article that the H2 was considered the fastest accelerating bike in ’72, so your ’73 900 would be excluded from the comparison. If you had a stock ’66 Bonneville that ran high 12s, it was the world’s fastest Bonnie. A friend of mine who had a Bonneville bought a 750 Kaw; it scared the crap out of him. I rode both of them, and there was no comparison.

      3
      • Dave Mathers

        All of the bikes were my ‘pit bikes’ at St. Thomas Dragway. When I bought the Bonny it ran mid 13s. One of my regular racers was an English bike guru and he did a job on the carbs, good for over half a second.

        1
  20. mark wigg

    Didn’t anyone do the obvious thing, put the engine in a decent frame?

    1
  21. Will Irby

    I can believe that; lots of potential in tweaking those old carbs!

    1
    • Dave Mathers

      They were NOT the stock carbs and just last year I gave the original carbs plus the ‘trick’ spark plug wire ends to a buddy who is restoring a 67 Bonny. And here’s another story. In 1970 the son of Rocky’s Harley showed up with a 500 triple. He was running 14.40s so he came over to me and said, ‘Dave, you know how to do this will you take it down’? I had never driven a two stroke so I launched at 8 grand. It went right on the license plate and I knew if I lifted I would be a-holes and elbows, not a good look for the Race Director. It finally settled down at the top of third gear and I ran a low 13. He asked me what I launched at and I told him NINE grand!! He was still on the back wheel when he took out our Christmas Tree with FIVE yellows back then!! LMAO

  22. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Good bikes all of them – I owned a 250 – 350 – and yes they made a 400 and the 500 for the longest and that’s where I stopped. Sold it running those Danco champers about 2 yrs ago. A bike to respect it’s abilities like many that came after it….like those CBX’s..

    1
  23. Chuck

    In the spring of ’74, I went to Proffer’s Motorcycles in Flint, Michigan, to buy a 750 triple. The salesman said that it was $1995, or he had a ’73 Z1 that had 4000 miles on it for the same price. I had heard stories of guys on triples, that had to change their underwear after every ride, so I took the Z1. Best decision that I ever made! Fast, reliable, comfortable, and a great cruiser. The dumbest thing I ever did, was sell it!!!

    • Dave Mathers

      Was it orange like mine? I agree with your description of the Z1.

      • Chuck

        Yep, it was orange with brown striping. Mine was one of the early production models. It had the automatic chain oiler on it, before Kawasaki started using the dense lube chain. It worked good, but the rear wheel always needed cleaning. When I sold it, it had about 40,000 mi, but I never had to replace the chain or any of the sprockets. I did learn early on, not to get too stupid with the throttle in first & second gear!

    • Howard A Member

      The Z1 was a much improved bike. I think that was the only color for the 1st year. Roommate had a ’75, was a fun bike, so much more civilized than the “ring-dings”. I get a kick out of people that ” rode it once and were so scared, never rode it again”,, types. Come on, motorcycles aren’t for wusses, especially ones that do 12 seconds in the 1/4. Moderation with fast bikes is the key. Got a straight line? Mash on it for the rush, but stopping and turning are more important. Peoples common sense seems to go out the window when riding these. Professional rider grade, not for beginners or wimps. Bet you wish you had that bike today, hey Chuck? $15-$20g’s!!
      https://www.mecum.com/lots/FL0118-312560/1973-kawasaki-z1-900/

      1
      • Chuck

        Hi Howard. As we get older, I know I’ve got a bunch of “I wish I hadn’t done that”, or “hind sight is 20-20” moments! I purchased a ’65, 305 Super Hawk in ’66 for $550, a lot of money for a 16 year old cutting lawn back then. In the spring of ’67, I rebuilt it, installing a Webco 350 kit, which upped the displacement to 350 cc’s, a hot drag strip camshaft, high performance valve springs, a Barnett clutch assembly, did a port and polish job on the head, crossed switch 2nd & 3rd gears, which made the transmission more evenly spaced, dropped a couple of teeth on the output shaft sprocket, removed the starter, and installed a magnetic reed relay on the starter circuit, and wired it into the ignition circuit. I could then just hit the starter button, which killed the ignition while applying pressure to the shift pedal. It would change gears without having to use the clutch, which saved a lot of time in the quarter mile. I also had a Honda tuned racing exhaust system. My best time was 12.34 seconds at 108 MPH. Very respectable for 1967, and just 21 cu in! That engine would rev to 14,000 RPM, and I never had a reliability problem with it at all! I also had a lot of fun cruising Woodward Ave with it, and surprised a lot of hot cars at the time! (;-) The only outstanding thing about the bike was that it had a white metal flake seat. Sadly, I sold that bike, and like a lot of guys today, I wished that I still had it! (:-( The Super Hawk had about the same performance as the Z1, but the Z1 was a lot better bike, I didn’t have to work on it constantly

      • Lindy

        I test rode a Kawasaki Z1 and was glad to get off of it in one piece. Riding the Z1 in a straight line was fine, but accelerating out of a right turn it began steer with the rear wheel. Reflecting upon the situation a day or two later, I suspected the trailing arm or frame was too weak to hold the rear wheel in alignment under such torque. A test ride of a Suzuki 750 some years later was a revelation, good smooth power, great handling and excellent brakes. I should have bought that zuki. Currently my ride needs some repair, a Norton 850 Interstate.

  24. Michael D Shaffer

    Vibration If you think a H D vibrates just ride one of these

  25. larry

    How about the Yamaha RD 350 triple, fastest 350 you will ever ride.

    • Will Irby

      The RD350 was a twin, not a triple.

  26. Eddie

    The guy who described these bikes as ” widow makers” was absolutely correct, I had 2 mates killed off them in the 80’s ,the power is lethal once she hits the power band ,but hey you will never get anything like that nowadays, snap it up i would but unfortunately im in Ireland!! Good luck classic bike fans stay safe

  27. wjtinfwb

    Never rode the 750 but had a buddy with the 500 and I think Bassani pipes. Coming from a 2-stroke dirt bike world I was comfortable with the nature of a 2-stroke “coming on the pipe” but was not prepared for the 500 lifting the front wheel at 45 mph and carrying it about a 100 yards! Not a great handler but what a straight-line rocket!

  28. gerardfrederick

    the 3 cylinder 2-stroke configuration was dreamed up in 1941 by DKW- During the 1950´s, DKW fielded a winning Formula One racing team, with the 350 cc 3-cylinder being the star, albeit unreliable due to, for the times poor engine oil quality. This machine, when running right ran rings around the big BMW´s, Matchless or MV Agustas from Italy.

  29. Sean

    my bro had 2 of these I had 1 he also had a 350 with allot of work and cafe’d out they were all wicked ,the 750’s handled like s@#t ,but dam ,we put a knobby on one ,we could have got work digging ditches !

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