The Widow Maker: 1975 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750

This 1975 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750 was recently removed from storage in seemingly excellent condition with 12,365 miles on the odometer. These bikes were known as “widow makers” for their blistering performance that depended on wobbly handling to keep riders from making intimate contact with the road. Hailing from an era wherein the modern superbike was born, the Kawasaki H2 750 stood apart. Find it here on eBay with bidding nearing $10K.

Norton, MV Augusta, and Ducati all had 750 superbikes in the mid-70s, a trend attributable to the popular Formula 750 motorcycle racing series. Like any competition vehicle, enthusiasts want to own the closest thing to what they see on the track in street form, and the H2 was one way to go fast on two wheels just like they did in sanctioned events. Despite the propensity to wreck at the hands of inexperienced riders, the body on this H2 shows no signs of being laid down.

Do yourself a favor and go to YouTube to hear these things at speed. It’s a gnarly sound, helped by three Mikuni 32mm carburetors, and the noise alone would tell you that this bike was something special. Ultimately, riders were treated to 74 b.h.p., 0-60 in 5 seconds, and the quarter-mile ripping by in 12.3 seconds flat. Those times were somewhat untouchable by the other superbikes of the period, meaning Kawasaki had built a bike that could perform as good as it looked.

It’s hard to fault the condition on display here, even though the seller provides few details as to how it emerged in such fine shape. He does confirm that it remains numbers matching, so that’s something. Does anyone know if the purple and magenta color combo was a factory option? It fits the era perfectly and looks mildly like a show bike. When it comes to vintage bikes, the high-performance models will always be collectible, and this H2 Mach IV 750 is right up there.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Nice! Fastest stock motorcycle made for 1975.( A Z1 was a 1/10th of a second slower) They called them “widow maker” for a reason. The explosive powerband caught many off guard. That, and it was way too big a motor for basically a dirt bike chassis, and if the acceleration didn’t get you, the dreaded “speed wobble” would.( which they tried to control with that steer dampener) I read, the 1/4 mile times differed greatly due to the rider, but the best in the 1/4 was 12.0 flat @ 103 mph and a top speed of only 119. More impressive is 0-100 in under 13 seconds. It was a handful to hang on to, and this was the last year for the H2 750, as the 4 cylinders were just as fast, and far more civilized. And yes, “Candy Purple” was a stock H2 color.

    Like 14
    • Terry R Melvin

      those bikes seriously needed a beefy swing arm and frame gusseting..both frame and swing arm flexed so much..and if you kept off the throttle it might return MPG in the high 30s. You got maybe the high 20s with spirited riding.

      Like 6
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    We called them ‘Kamakazies.’ Some bad wrecks on them. One guy was killed when the bike wheelied out from underneath him. The local dealer sold a couple of them then quit selling them because he was afraid of being sued. They were fast; I’ve got to hand you that. But a good English bike outhandled them. The 500 was unpredictable at best but this one was downright dangerous…

    Like 9
    • Terry R Melvin

      If you didn’t know what you were doing, when you “launched” you’d be lucky if it went where you pointed it.

      Like 8
    • Howard A Member

      One bike you never Armor-Alled the seat,,,

      Like 17
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        LOL! Think of the look on the rider’s face when the bike shoots out from underneath him…

        Like 4
  3. Terry R Melvin

    One of the fastest things to travel in a straight line. The trick was to keep it going straight..Or, it could turn, brake and handle..just not any two at the same time. But, this bike looks to be a very good example. A couple things to note, having been a motorcycle fanatic in my time. This bike has spent some time outdoors as noted by the faded tachometer, also it is a 1975, meaning it has been slightly detuned from the earlier years due to increased emissions requirements (though unleaded wasn’t required for bikes yet).

    Like 4
  4. Camaro Joe

    geomecs, you’re exactly right on the Kawasaki chassis. It was way too weak for those motors on a good day. A good friend almost died because the frame on a KZ-1000 broke on a high speed corner.

    The $17.95 K-Mart helmet he was wearing didn’t help either. I’d promised myself I’d buy a Bell helmet when I got out of college, but it had been a year and I hadn’t done it yet. I got done talking to his Mother who described “picking pieces of the K-Mart helmet out of his brain” and ordered a Bell Helmet that day.

    I still have the 1972 Suzuki TS 185 street /trail dirt bike that my Dad brought home in 1973. I ride it around the ‘hood, maybe venture down into town to bike shows once or twice a year. I have run 135 MPH on a 1000 Suzuki, but the average PA white tail deer has no respect for those things, so I did it once and scared myself enough to quit that.

    Like 13
    • Robert White

      I know a guy that decided to get rid of his crotch rocket 1000 Suzuki for the same reason. He took his bike out on a highway run in the wee hours of the morning [2:00am] and took it up to about 140MPH thinking the whole time that if any varmint or white tailed deer decided to cross the highway at that moment he would have been toast.

      He also told me that when you get high speed wobble you only need to give it a bit more throttle to straighten out the bike.

      I’ve owned British bikes for collecting purposes but I would never become a full time bike rider unless it was the peddling type.

      Bob

      Like 4
  5. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I still ride a bike, a Kawasaki 900 Vulcan Classic LT, and we always wear a good helmet when the wife and I go for a ride. I see a lot of folks on bikes without helmets, something we will never do. I remember reading an accident statistic that said the odds of the typical bike owner having at least one accident while owning the bike was 100%. You have to be pretty dumb not to wear a helmet, especially these days with so many distracted drivers on the road.

    A Bell helmet saved my life when I was knocked off my first bike one night, a little Yamaha 100 Twin. I bounced across the road and slid head first into a curb. It must have been a hard hit as my Bell helmet ended up with a huge crack in it from the impact. I woke up the next day in the hospital, pretty sore though with no broken bones, but with no memory of the accident. That helmet probably saved my life so take it from me if any of you guys still ride. Always wear good helmets when you ride, especially if your loved one is sitting behind you.

    Like 10
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      The helmet issue is something that will never get resolved. Every time I hear about a rider whose life was saved by a helmet, there’s another that was killed by it. Statistically the rider has a greater chance of injuring his legs than his head. For myself I sometimes wear one and sometimes don’t; I’ll probably wish that I did one day. I had one bad wreck but ended up with a gravel rash on my forearm and knee; didn’t put a scratch on my helmet. I’m a real proponent of ‘Let Those Who Ride Decide.’ It should be your choice. Bottom line: You’re probably right; wear it.

      Like 11
      • On and On On and On Member

        Geo, I agree with you that it should be up to the rider, I’ve always worn a helmet since I went through Motorcycle Safety School in 1983, I started riding in 1966. During that class they showed convincing pictures of riders heads who didn’t wear them. Don’t know where they got those photos! I wear a Shoei helmet that is comfortable and vented. The first time a huge bumble bee hit my shield at 70mph and knocked my head back, I was convinced that they do more than keep you from cracking your skull open. Without that helmet and shield can you imagine getting hit in the face like that and not becoming disoriented and uncontrolled long enough to get into serious trouble. Plus, who’s ever been out riding and get into a summer down pour where you can’t just pull over soon enough. Quality helmets are not cheap, but then again how much is YOUR head worth?

        Like 10
  6. Alterego_k

    Either my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet or nobody touched on the fact that it was a 3 cyl 750cc 2-stroke. Howard A. mentioned a power band, which clued us old 2-smokers in, but for those that havent had to hold on for dear life before we learned to pinch our knees, (the cause of many metal tank dents), these beasts are iconic power monsters of the past! Not your mother’s traditional kz750 4-stroke torque monster used for gathering groceries on sunday ;) Excellent find of 2-stroke
    legendary streetbike history! Well done!

    Like 6
  7. Racingpro56

    As a long time trauma nurse we referred to these crotch rockets as “donorcycles” or “murdercycles”. I do ride, but do so defensively. Only Harleys these days. In my younger days I bought a Kawasaki KZ-1000. Scared the bejesus out of me and only rode it for one season. Only low & slow with a helmet these days.

    Like 5
  8. Tony T

    A friend put one of those engines in a Wasp MX sidecar frame … with a trio of expansion chambers. REALLY fast in the dirt. Scary-fast. No weight. The Wasp frame was rigid, at least.

  9. Bill

    You’ve got your fact wrong,the 72/73s were faster in the quarter that the first Z1,but the 75 H2 was a second slower in the quarter and alot less HP.

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, Bill, I get that off Wiki, so it’s always debatable. It didn’t take long for the 4 bangers to get the edge, and they still give the Harley’s fits at the drags even today. Kind of splitting hairs really, they are all fast. Wasn’t the CBX the fastest production bike made?
      On the helmet debate, I’ve worn one every time I rode( which was a lot, snowmobiling too) since day one, and like my auto insurance, never used it.

      Like 2
  10. Suttree

    I bought one exactly like this 1975 in the same color in 1977.
    $999. Cartersville Georgia.
    The dealership had several of them.

    Like 2
  11. Jay E.

    Built one for a customer in 1985. Ported, milled the heads, 34’s and pipes. Great sound, holy crap is was fast. Swept around a corner at speed when testing. When the mid turn tunnel came I lost my nerve and encountered the “handling” problem, scared myself crapless. Retured it to him still shaking. But what a visceral ride. This is a great example.

    Like 9
  12. Jack M.

    In Ontario Canada it has always been illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. For years Sikhs from India that immigrated to the Province, have been petitioning to ride their motorcycles with just a turban on due to religious beliefs. Just this year the Government made it legal for them to do that. Let me tell you, as I have never seen anyone on the road without a helmet riding a bike, it sure looks dam dangerous to me.

    Like 3
  13. ccrvtt

    I’ve got nothing against Sikhs, who from all I hear are peaceful, considerate people. But I draw the line where you claim your religion prevents you from obeying the law.

    Helmet laws exist to promote the greater good of society by helping to prevent life-altering injuries to riders. Those riders can become a burden on society by requiring special care after they scramble their brains in an accident.

    I think the libertarian view of “Let those who ride decide” has merit, but it only applies in those jurisdictions where there are no helmet laws (NOT Ontario). I always rode with a helmet regardless of local ordinances. The worst that ever happened to me was getting my Bell rung (pun intended) on a sand dune in Oregon while performing a classic flying W.

    Like 6
  14. Steve Park

    I still have the H1 I bought in 1972. The first time I cranked the throttle open was an experience I’ll never forget. I went all over on that bike and apparently wasn’t smart enough to know it didn’t handle well. Maybe the aftermarket shocks helped. Wheelies and jumps were effortless. Yes I always wore helmet and I’m still around because of it.

    Like 8
  15. Mood-O

    Friend in High School(1976) had one of these in Kawasaki green(always heard that green was bad luck) He crashed it often, thankfully at lower speeds.
    That bike was Freaky Fast when that power band rolled in!
    The speed wobble is a truism for sure also
    I picked up a ’75 Z 1 in the early 80’s and it was quite fast(not stock) and handled ok as long as I was focused on the road!
    Actually dented the tank on both sides from my legs squeezing that beast around corners too many times…
    It ended up sailing away to Germany with a bunch of Japanese superbikes in the late 80’s after my first Daughter was born, Wife wanted me to be around for awhile.
    Have not owned or rode a bike since

    Like 2
  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Just sold my two H-1’s a few month’s back – both 1972’s one a street and one a drag bike….yes they were scary fast even for a guy that respected that power band – but boy the sound crackling thru a set of chambers was music….oh and don’t forget….we love the smell of two strokes in the morning !

    Like 2
  17. Steve Chambers Member

    I started collecting triples in the mid 80’s. At one time or another have owned all of them 250 thru 750. One thing not mentioned here, the (75) models, were sold and titled as 75, as far as I know, none were actually built in 75, the 75 were built late in 74 and titled in 74. The purple one with the long tank and short seat is the holey grail. Best looking, hardest to find. I have expericened the speed wobble, way scary. Drag raced a 120 king cobra Denco for awhile. Got a 10.2 with no bars. Love em.

    Like 4
  18. George Mattar

    Seems like Steve Park is one of the very few here who owned these great bikes new. I bought 2 of them brand new in 1975. They were way down on power from the earlier models up to about 73, but still beat any car made in those days. And to.the guy who says they could get 30 mpg is dreaming. I used only Sunoco 260 in mine even those compression was low by 75 and never got more than 20 mpg. Of course, being 20 years old then and shifting at 7,000, well goodbye gas. Yes, they wobbled and didn’t stop like today’s bikes, but you actually had to drive them. I wrecked one in 1974. All told, I owned five Kawi triples. Miss them, especially that two stroke sound. Best hand drips ever and gauges easy to read. Hard on chains and tires, but a good tire back then was $30 or so. Long live the two stroke. I also owned a two stroke 1972 Arctic Cat EXT snowmobile raving model with a two stroke triple with 38 mm Mikunis. What an animal.

    Like 1
  19. Steve Park

    It’s been a long time since I rode mine but I know I never got 30 mpg. I put a smaller countershaft sprocket on for some strange reason. But I was also 20-21 years old and thought I was invincible. I jumped a small bridge every day leaving my summer job and never thought anything of it. I still have 3 H1s but doubt I’ll ride them again. A cervical fusion will do that to you.

    Like 1
  20. chrlsful

    they all hada ‘Trip’ (hondahaha, kawasakihihihi, etc) 250 – 900 cc. 3 cyl, 2 stroke. I hada Kowie 500 (may B only Kowie hada 900? Wasn’t that the “H2”?).

    The next iteration? much better. Some1 mentioned the Z1, also the suki GS 1000 R both pretty nice. Get the model for the style drivin. Just like the carz, no?

    I traded the H1 for a ’78 KZ750B, still drive it. The 2 stroke wuz ‘too buzzy’ for me, (need to keep it in the revs), now I’m an ol man. The KZ I like, very low maintenance (designed that way).

  21. Russell

    Find a web site “purple haze racing” … they can get coax 120hp out of a motor for you… up your insurance (life) first.

  22. Kendal Hancock

    I am surly blessed to have serviced owning one of these beast for 2 years. I then traded it in on a new Z1. At the age of 18 I drove my 55 Chevy 2 door hardtop that I had built a bumper extension for carrying my 750 on the back from TX. to CA. I was driving back home and after my water pump went out around 2 AM. I pushed my bike off the car and drove it to the closet motel. Got up the next morning and was going to pull my pump and my car had been stolen. I had to drive my 750 home. Got pulled over in New Mexico doing 120 in a 30 exiting off the freeway. It was an amazing bike. Ran it in the quarter in just under 12 seconds.

    Like 1
  23. Bwickfl

    My dad had a gold colored one back in the day and when he put it up for sale people drove him nuts over that thing. They wanted that high revving 2 stroke 750. He was happy to be rid of it. Scary bike if you let our t get away from you. All you can do with death wobble is get out of it and roll with it till you slow some, can’t control it just work your weight and pray.

    Like 1

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