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Stored 20 Years: 1972 Kawasaki H2 “Widow Maker”

Much has been written about the white-knuckle performance of the Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750, a bike that by 1970s standards was absolutely insane. The performance is still more than respectable today, and they’ve become serious collector’s items. Despite being somewhat of a rarity, we still see a good number pop up for sale like this one here on eBay that was apparently discovered after 20 years in storage. The seller has gotten the bike to a healthy running state by cleaning out the gas tank, replacing the carburetor, and likely a few other fixes. Bidding is at $13,000 with no reserve.

Prices for these old-school sportbikes have been climbing for quite some time, and even if the bikes are primitive by today’s standards, there’s something about riding or driving a high-performance machine before the abundance of electronic nannies became standard equipment in most two- and four-wheeled contraptions. You’re forced to ride with your attention locked in, as daydreaming on a bike like this is a recipe for a disaster. At the time, road test editors pointed out that the performance was indeed awe-inspiring but the bike didn’t have the stability to make it completely confidence-inspiring.

This particular “Widow Maker” remains in largely original condition with some spare parts and repairs that suggest it’s been worked on in the past. The seller notes that the bike came out of storage with a replacement upper engine case. He apparently had some dialog with the previous owner who did confirm the original engine case was damaged and replaced in his care. The replacement case is from a ’73 model, so not entirely correct, but I’m not sure anyone will be particularly offended by the change. The H2 supposedly starts easily, on the first or second kick, according to the listing.

The paint is described as “old” and the seller believes it is original, but you’ll need to bring a paint meter to get that detail verified beyond a shadow of a doubt. The seller says the frame looks “pretty straight” which sounds like a gray area to me. Certainly, high-performance bikes have a high propensity for being damaged when they were new, so while the seller likely can’t tell anything with the naked eye, potential buyers should be aware that bikes like these occasionally ended up in the hands of inexperienced riders. Still, this one presents very well for an unrestored example, and the current bid price seems reasonable for such a desirable model of a vintage superbike.

Comments

  1. Derek

    Spannies an’ K+Ns, too. Yum…

    Check the jetting…

    Like 2
  2. Melton Mooney

    Didn’t an obscure band called Bloodrock record a song about riding a Kaw triple? I think it was called D.O.A.
    But seriously, these bike were great…like running a 12 second quarter on a donkey.

    Like 7
    • gaspumpchas

      Ha Melton I had Bloodrock on my 8 track!!!!

      Like 1
  3. Bob

    Wasn’t this up last July?

  4. Peter J Wehmeyer

    I rode one once. Once. Scared the daylights outta me. Screaming along, over 100 & I look front wheel was off the ground

  5. Bwana

    I drove a Honda 500 4 stroke in the 70s. That used to scare me. This is beyond insane, why was it even legal?

    Like 4
  6. Rick

    Installing chambers on this is suicidal. When the power band kicks in it’s out of control 🙀

    Like 4
  7. Bob

    Just to put things in perspective, a Norton 750 of the same vintage had a top speed of 120 mph. They were very stable at high speeds and handled very well. The ones equipped with front disc brakes could stop quickly also. Although it got a bit scary when the rear wheel would come off the ground in a hard stop.

    Like 4
    • Rick

      It’s all a matter of balance!!

      Like 1
  8. Rob

    I rode one of these a couple of times. Yes, the motor is fast, and kicks like a proper 2 stroke, but the real issue is the plumbing tube frame and pogo suspension. When you added those 2 factors to the motor it became very hard to ride fast.

    Like 3
  9. SirLurxalot

    I had one. Screaming fast and lots of fun until you wanted to turn and/or stop.

    Like 4
  10. steve jesus

    Worked in a Kawasaki shop in the seventies and rode a lot of these. Pretty powerful bike but not a handler. The owner of the shop sold one to guy as his first bike. He almost hit a telephone pole leaving the shop when he picked it up. Later found out he was killed on the bike.

    Like 5
  11. Steve

    Like riding an oily smelly chainsaw. I was there.

  12. 19sixty5 Member

    Wicked. My Army buddy had a 72, same color, and added some apes to it, bizarre, but different for sure. It fir in with his 61 Bel Air 4 door sedan painted in black primer with an orange Batman logo on the hood. I rode it once in the back of a parking lot at Ft Myer and scared the crap out of myself. RIP brother.

    Like 3
  13. Randy

    I had one when I was in the navy road it from Kansas City to Jacksonville Florida don’t know how I made it young and dumb 😎

    Like 5
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Randy, many of us ask questions like this. Bet that ride was a unique and unforgettable experience.

      Like 1
  14. John Member

    The Kaw 500 was fast enough for me

    Like 3
  15. LCL

    The magazines said the power band was “narrow and peaky”, an understatement.
    A friend loaned me his and it hiccuped leaving a stop, I gave it some gas, it caught, and stood straight up then slammed back down.
    Chastened, I drove it directly home. Not for me to wreck a friend’s bike.
    I never got it going fast enough to judge the handling.
    And I never borrowed or loaned another motorcycle.

    Like 4
    • Rick

      Narrow and freaky

      Like 2
  16. LCL

    PS – Are those factory pipes anyone?
    They look like Bassani expansion chambers.

    Like 1
    • Gary

      They are aftermarket chambers

  17. mh

    I had a 70 Kawasaki 500…. bigger pistons with velocity stacks.. I lived 5 houses from a stop sign… I used to have my little sister down at the stop sign watching for traffic… I could get to 100 MPH..in five houses…and run that stop sign…LOL…

    Like 4
  18. david R

    Speaking as someone who has owned dozens of fast bikes over the years I think selling these things to teenagers was borderline immoral. Plus I understand they get 19 miles per gallon. I’ll take a Norton or CB750 any day.

    Like 4
    • Steve

      My 73 350 S2 only got 22 mpg, which was rough in the oil embargo era when gas stations were closed on sundays and I could only ride about 69 miles before empty. Fun and fast thou.

      Like 1
  19. Retiredstig Member

    The reputation of these bikes is mostly myth, and a few anecdotes told by guys who never owned one. The stories are usually about someone too young or lacking in judgement to ride one safely. I owned several H-1s and H-2s. Most had the all but required Denco chambers, K&Ns and proper porting and jetting. Bronze swing arm bushings and quality shocks improved the handling at low cost. Kawasaki sold a dual disc conversion that was also useful.
    As long as you didn’t mistake yourself for Barry Sheene, and rode within your skill level, they were very fast and lots of fun.

    Like 6
  20. PeterfromOz

    Look on Youtube as there is a person who adds an extra cylinder to make 1000cc.

    Like 1
  21. Gary

    I have had and rode many bikes and the only one that worried me was my buddies triple. His was purple with stock exhaust, nice bike and very fast. Not a bike for a first time rider for sure as you would likely crash it. The ones I enjoyed the most were my KZ1000 and my CBX. The X needed a bigger rear tire, why they put that rubber band on them I’ll never understand.

  22. RAUL MENJIVAR

    this is actually my bike I posted on ebay the last week of may
    thank you for the great comments

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