When Kawasaki brought out the 3-cyl 2-stroke H1 Mach III 500 in 1969, it was the fastest accelerating production machine on wheels, two or four. Capable of ripping up the quarter-mile drag strip in 12.9 seconds, it could leave even the hottest of Detroit’s pre-oil crisis musclecars inhaling its blue exhaust fumes and white tyre smoke. Boasting a claimed 60hp, it could also hit 125mph. Performance like this was outstanding for any production bike, let alone a pint-sized 500.
While Kawasaki had concentrated on the H1’s performance, it hadn’t paid too much attention to its handling or brakes, which weren’t a match for the engine’s power, or indeed its sharp powerband from 6,000rpm upward. It was a controversial bike that was either loved – for its incredible performance, or hated – for its dodgy chassis and huge thirst for fuel.
What can’t be argued with is that a racing version finished 2nd in the 1970 500cc World Championship and, at the Monza GP that year, seven of the top 10 finishers were Kawasaki triples.
The H1 stayed in production in various guises until 1976, and during that time it was restyled, tamed and refined. The 1975 H1F here shows a little under 17,000kms (c.10,500m) on the odometer. The tank was recently repainted, and the bike is fitted with Marzocchi shocks, but otherwise it’s in good original cosmetic condition. An exciting and desirable giant-killer.