Last Updated: 7/27/13
1975 Kawasaki H1 500
With 60 hp on tap in stock form, and a handling package that left something to be desired even when compared to its contemporaries, the "Widow-Maker" didn't come by its reputation lightly. They were known to be somewhat flexible flyers, with bad suspension, bad brakes, and came fitted with first-generation Japanese bananaflon compound tires that had a hard time maintaining traction with the road surface under the best of conditions. But they also earned a reputation as giant killers, easily out pacing much bigger bikes of the day, as long as you kept it on the pipe, and in a straight line.
This one has had some of the chassis demons addressed with the addition of a longer swingarm with mono-shock rear suspension, a modern set of calipers and master cylinder with stainless steel lines working the stock dual-disk front rotors, and a brand new set of modern rubber. I also fitted spacers in the forks to stiffen the front-end a little to account for the more powerful brake setup. To stretch the other end of the spectrum a bit more, the motor has a fresh top-end, and a completely sorted and rebuilt set of carbs breathing through a set of K & N pod filters, and a nice trio of nickel-plated Denco chambers. I also installed set of rebuildable oil lines that are freshly redone with new ball valves and springs, keeping the crankcase from loading up with injection oil when the bike sits.
The bikes starts easily and settles into an idle, quickly weaning off the chock lever. The motor sounds tight and rev's freely, and returns to idle promptly with no run-on once the throttle is chopped. The bike carburates cleanly and accelerates smoothly. Once the tach reaches 6k, you'd better be holding on with both hands. The motorcycle leaps forward with authority as the tach needle sweeps towards redline. Sure, modern 4-strokes will accelerate harder from much lower in the rev range, but they can't match the sensation of running this thing through the gears on the pipe; this why you own a Kawasaki triple. The shriek from the pipes, and the howl from the K & N's is intoxicating, probably even more so if you happen to be behind it, especially if you're burning Castrol R in the injection tank.
Over the past several months I've tweaked it into a pretty solid rider. All the electrics work, headlight with hi and low beams, tail and brake lights, turn signals front and rear. Even the instrument lights all work. The tach and speedo both work with the odometer showing 16,475. The inside of the tank is clean and has a new petcock with a positive "off" position. Whoever painted it went to a lot of trouble with the ELR striping and hand-lettering. It appears however that the metal wasn't prepped properly and there are patches on the tank and tail-piece where the paint has lifted.
I'm looking to get $3200 and am open to reasonable offers and trades.
The bike has a nice profile, well balanced front to rear. I figure the swingarm adds about 2-3" to the stock wheelbase.
The bike has a solo-seat/cowl. It's made of metal and is welded to the seat base so it hinges from the frame as one unit like the stock seat/base does.
Front brake calipers and master cylinder from a newer Suzuki Intruder, along with stainless steel lines and new pads greatly improve the stopping power.
The motor has a fresh top-end, and the carbs have just been rebuilt with all new parts. I installed a new positive "off" petcock and new fuel lines as well. I also fitted a new set of fuel filters on the lines even though the new petcock has a filter. The inside of the fuel tank is rust-free, but I just wanted to leave no doubt that the fuel hitting the carbs was clean. The oil injection system is intact and functioning.
New tires and tubes front and rear. Good chain and sprockets, although I'm not real crazy about the green paint on the links. The bark from those pipes is crisp, and absolutely amazing at speed.
The guy that built the seat did a nice job. I found it to be quite comfortable after a day in the saddle.
I made the tail light lens out of clear lexan, heated it up to bend it to the shape I wanted, then painted the inside florescent red. I'm pretty happy with the results.
So there you have it. Not your run of the mill H1, and one you don't see every day. Not perfect, but mechanically sound, and a good rider. Runs great, gives me that thrill like I was back in high school in the 70's on my R5, and it draws a crowd everywhere you go.