Up for auction on E-bay is my HIGHLY modified Kawasaki “KH750″ Cafe Racer. Old School Style with the help of Modern 2-stroke Technology….
It has taken the better part of 4 years getting this bike to what it is today…. Plenty of trial and error, a ridiculous amount of time and money, and a HUGE supply of help and advice from the good guys on the KTW (kawasakitriplesworldwide) forum. The bike has gone through 3 major transformations, all a step in the right direction, and finally ending up as you see it in these Photos.. An ultra lightweight (nearly 90 pounds lighter than a stock H2), ROCKET of a two-stroke street bike!!! I have almost enjoyed building it as much as riding it, and luckily I’ve been able to ride the bike in the Mountains surrounding Deals Gap for 2 years in a row….Not to mention all of the back road riding here in Minnesota chasing (sometimes leading) friends on modern sportbikes and old two-strokes alike.
CHASSIS and SUSPENSION
1. Lightened ‘76 KH500 frame…. the final year 500 Triple (KH500) frames came from the factory with headstock gusset plating and extra corner bracing which greatly helped ridigity. Frame was thoroughly de-tabbed, and shortened, (15+ pounds of unnecessary weight removed from frame alone) Frame was then Powdercoated “Satin” black
2. Aluminum FZR400 swingarm…. Mono linkages removed and 3 position “dual shock” tabs welded in place. Allows for shock angle and ride height adjustments in addition to adjustability of shocks themselves. Swingarm then De-anodized and polished. New pivot needlebearings were installed as well.
3. Works Performance shocks…. Dual rate, valved and sprung for 175-180 pound rider. These shocks work wonderfully on this bike!
4. Front fork…. Stock H2, with Progressive springs. Lowers powdercoated black. New seals and dust boots. Caps are custom road-race Billet extensions that allowed for mounting clip-ons above upper triple clamp without sacrificing fork travel.
5. Fuel tank…. Late ’60’s British Aluminum Thruxton or Triton style “Cafe” tank cut and modified to fit KH500 frame. New Billet Aluminum “pop-up” cap installed including vent hose to catchbottle which eliminates vent leakage under hard cornering. Pingel petcock. Graphics on fuel tank are 3M vinyl and are easily changeable. This is actually the 2nd color scheme I have had on the bike. The bike spent a year in “Candy Green” before deciding on Black when I added the Gold Sun wheels last year. Fender and Tail section are all that needs paint if you do decide to change the color yet again. I will include a few rolls of different colored vinyl for you to experiment with if so inclined.
6. H2R style fiberglass tail section…. Cut and modified to fit KH500 frame. Seat and side areas reinforced with additional fiberglass for strength. Storage compartment is accessed through perforated aluminum panel (shown in video), which is attached via Velcro (light weight!). Tail houses Oil-Injection filler cap (tank located beneath tail), and is still large enough to carry tool kit, spare plugs, etc. Seat Padding is 1″ closed-cell foam and believe it or not, it isn’t as uncomfortable as it looks….. Riding position is comparable to most modern sportbikes, with a little less weight on the wrists.
7. Aluminum (Vortex? i cant remember?) Clip-Ons…. doweled into top triple-clamp to eliminate possibility of rotation on hard braking and acceleration.
8. Sidestand… shortened ZX636 Ninja…. 1/3 the weight of a stock “solid” sidestand.
9. Rearsets are modified Raaske… to be honest, this is one of those things I intended to eventually upgrade and still a bit rough around the edges. Modern ZX Ninja, Honda CBR, Yamaha R1, R6, Suzuki GSXR style pegs would save a bit more weight and look a lot better. Shift lever is a single unit (KV75) mounted directly to the shift shaft. This eliminates ALL possibility of slop through linkages for more positive shifting. Shifting does require a bit more “force” as leverage was lessened, but once used to it, shifting becomes 2nd nature. Brake lever is cable to drum as described below.
10. Stock H2 steering damper…. in excellent condition and works well.
11. Stock H2 triple clamps (lightened) with new tapered roller bearings
WHEELS AND BRAKES
1. Sun Gold Anodized 18″ Aluminum rims (2.15 front 3.5 rear) laced with stainless Buchanan spokes to lightened S3 400 rear hub and KH500 4-bolt front hub. All hub and brake components powdercoated “Satin” black
2. 520 DID X-ring chain conversion with Sprocket specialist “Titan Tough” hard anodized aluminum rear sprocket. 16/51 or 3.18 (stock H2 being 15/47 or 3.13). 16 tooth countershaft sprocket used to gain chain clearance around larger FZR400 swingarm pivot tube.
3. Bridgestone BT45 Battleaxe tires (140/70-18 rear 110/80-18 front)
4. Rear Brake is stock A1/A7 (lighter than S3 unit) drum. This brake is nothing more than a road-race spec “Hill holder”, as there isn’t a lot of leverage with the Raaske brake pedal/cable set-up.. No Matter, as I do not use rear brake unless riding in rain or dirt… This bike obviously wasn’t ridden in those conditions. (save for getting caught in a rainstorm at Deals Gap 2 years ago). If you are a “Rear Brake” type of guy, you will definately need to address this…
5. Front brake…. Nissin Master (Sudco), Stainless braided brakeline, rebuilt Nissin EX500 caliper with EBC HH pads.. MORE than enough brake for this bike during spirited street use. Will lift the rear wheel under hard braking.
6. Front rotor is stock KH500 (4-hole) that has been lightened. Drilled and thinned to 5.5mm.
7. Speedometer is a magnetic sensor (Stingray) Bicycle Computer. Battery recently died in this unit, so I purchased a new Sigma Computer to replace it. The stingray was only good to 120 mph any ways and needed upgrading. The Sigma is good to “as fast as this bike will go”, which is definitely higher than 120. Buyer of bike will get the new Sigma in box and ready to install.
1. Early ‘74 H2b engine cases w/rare factory aluminum slugs. Slugs removed and cases then fited with Suzuki GT750 “silentblock” rubbermounts. Takes away ALL of the nasty H2 engine vibes, and makes the bike a pleasure to ride long distance. Oilpassages drilled to accept ‘72 H2 cylinders and early (better) ‘72/’73 oil injection system.
2. ‘72 H2 750 high-cut cylinders… Cylinders are on 1st overbore and have been ported to a “Stage 2″, which I was told is similar to Denco 120 specs (crank hp)
3. Aylor Engineering Reed Valve kits installed to bring back all the missing “bottom end” which happens when any amount of portwork is done.. Kits feature Boyesen Dual Stage reed petals and modified Wiseco pistons. Probably the best “Drivability” modification done to this bike. The engine is just as happy putting around at 2000 rpm as it is screaming past 8000+. Engine no longer exibits any amount of typical “H2 surging”, and has excellent throttle response even from low RPM’s.
4. Heads… Outer heads welded for strength. Heads beautifully machined by Chuck “Supertune” Quenzler in Florida to modern specs. Combustion chamber design, squish, volume info sent to me from Leo M. in the Netherlands, who is always on the leading edge of Kawasaki Triple technology.. Static compression is at +/- 150 PSI, and runs perfectly (without detonation) on regular 91 Octane pump gas.
5. Transmission was sent to Mark Doucette at R&D racing transmissions in Florida, a foremost authority on high performance Motorcycle dragracing and roadracing transmission. Parts received magnaflux and roadrace spec back cut on all 5 gears. Shimmed to better than factory specs using all new shims and clips.
6. Clutch is stock H2 w/full Barnett spring and plate package.
7. Project-H2 Sytech clutch actuator makes clutching a 2 finger affair, even with the 5 Barnett springs. New cable.
8. Stock “early” H2 oil-injection system with stat-o-seal crush washers. Oil pump cover drilled and “sight window” installed so you know at a glance that the oil injection cable is working (a common failure on these bikes)
9. Mikuni TMX35 Flatslide carbs.. These carbs have AMAZINGLY “crisp” throttle response when coupled together with the Reeds and Chambers. Still set up a bit on the “rich” (safe) side of things, but once again.. I like my engines to last…. One thing these carbs will probably need is new “lighter” gauge springs made. These carbs are originally designed for modern single cylinder 250 Moto-X bikes (cable pulling on only one carb), so 3 of them together requires a bit of force from your throttle hand. I just got used to it.. You can tell by the looks of the right handgrip.. lol
10. Neville Lush (Australia) designed expansion chambers. Mild Steel cone kits rolled by Leo Molenaar (Netherlands), and assembled to fit frame by myself and good friend Pat Foner, who is a locally renowned bike-builder in his own right. Pat and I have well over 20 hours into cutting/welding/fitting these pipes to the frame for maximum cornering clearance. Old-School welds were purposely not ground down or cleaned up as a tribute to the roadrace pipes being built in the late ’60’s-early ’70’s…although these pipes are Substantially FATTER/BETTER than the skinny chambers of yesteryear…. I have been applying “Mop-N-Glo” to these a couple of times a year to keep the rust away.. So far so good. I was going to have them ceramic coated, but the “RAW” bare steel just works with the rest of the bike. Pipes are a “Torque” designed pipe for EXCELLENT streetability. I’d guess they are making max HP around the 8200 RPM mark and sign off well before you hit 9000. No reason to over-rev an H2 on the street. Crankshafts last MUCH longer that way. Silencers are modified DG “Ovals” held in place by moto-x spec “Moose” clamps. Silencers are Lightweight, and not overly loud, but still retain that wicked H2 howl when you’re “on it”.
11. Crankshaft was sent to Damon Kirkland (”the crank god”) of Dothan, Alabama for FULL rebuild. Crank was fitted with newer style “slotted” rods, new Factory Kawasaki Seals (now NLA) and new bearings.
12. Engine covers (clutch, stator, oilpump, countershaft) all Powdercoated “satin” black. Shift and kickstart levers were also Powdercoated.
1. Ignition system is primarily “Stock” H2 with the exception of the Neville Lush Mini-coils, which offer higher output at 1/3 the weight and space. New non-resistor plug caps and wires. CDI box is stock H2. Stator is NOS (new old stock) H2. Kill switch located in hidden toggle. Wiring harness custom built to accomodate only those things necessary for spartan street use.
LIGHTING, GAUGES, AND OTHER ELECTRICS
1. Headlight is PIAA Diachronic 55w beam. Extremely bright, lightweight and compact. Remote on/off switch mounted to side of Tachometer. I did not modify the headlight wiring harness when installing, instead tightly bundling it up and locating it under the headstock gusset plates along with the inline fuse.
2. Tail/Brake light is LED, which is also Extremely bright and lightweight. (brake light is only operated from Master Cylinder switch as I do not use rear brake)
3. Charging system is as stated above…NOS. Has stock (late model H1/H2) Voltage Regulator/Rectifier and Bat-Pac Battery Eliminator Capacitor.
ALL of the ignition components are located beneath the fuel tank (barely). Coils are fixed via an aluminum jacket and zipties, and CDI box and Voltage R/R via small brackets. This bracketry is meant to be solely utilitarian, and cosmetics weren’t an issue being mounted beneath the tank. “Pretty” brackets will be up to the next owner.
4. Tachometer is cable driven “tiny tach” and is back-lit for night use. I had originally planned on updating to a Vapor Trailtech or Acewell style digital Tach/Speedo unit, but with a cable driven tach, it gives you peace of mind knowing that the oilpump is spinning since the tach and oil-pump are driven off of the same gear set.
5. As stated before, Speedo is magnetic pickup Bicycle computer. New Sigma included in sale, but needs installing.
6. There are NO turnsignals on this bike as Minnesota allows the use of hand signals.. Check with your State. Turnsignals wouldn’t be terribly difficult to add to the system.
7. There is also NO horn on this bike. Another thing that could be easily added at the expense of more weight.
I’m not going to go into any more individual detail, but there are MANY other subtle changes and modifications I have made to this bike over the last 4 years..all of which were done to improve its everyday “Ridability”…. As it stands right now, the bike/engine has approximately 5000 miles on it, and it is as dialed-in and set-up as it has ever been.. As for what it needs? Nothing really, but a new owner that is going to respect the power and capabilities of this machine. Even for a 30 year old design and frame, this bike is VERY fast, fun, and exhilarating to ride..all of the modifications (especially the huge weight reduction), giving it a very confidence inspiring feel. It is solid as a rock up to and well above 3-digit speeds, even bent over in corners. I am not a good enough rider to explore the limits of what this machine is capable of.. I do know that I have owned CBR’s, FZR’s, Ninja’s, and currently have a ZRX1200 as my “push button” bike.. NONE OF THEM come close to the sensation of riding this motorcycle. That said, This bike is NOT recommended for anybody but an experienced rider/mechanic that understands how a 2 stroke works and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when something breaks. It is a 2-stroke. Something will eventually need attention. You can count on it.
I suppose I should touch briefly on Cosmetics… I did not build this to be a “showbike” or “trailerbaby”. It was built to be RIDDEN, and if so desired.. RIDDEN DAILY..for hours at a time.
It is a true testament to “Form Following Function” and in my humble opinion turned out to be a beautiful machine. There are however, the typical small scuffs, scratches, nicks, dings etc associated with building a “New” bike from mostly “refurbished” parts. It has NEVER been dropped in the time I have had it. Up close and in person it resembles a very nicely kept racebike..Speaking of which, if it were safety wired, I’m sure this bike would do VERY well on the track with an experienced rider aboard. Like I said before….I am VERY happy with how it turned out, as it far exceeded my expectations of what a 30 year old bike is capable of….Not only cosmetically, but functionally as well. Even though the bike represents well as-is, it could use a thorough detailing as it has spent more time being ridden than being polished. I honestly only dusted it off for these photos….
So why am I selling it? Well, I have another “Custom” H2 project waiting in the wings that is going to take some serious time and financial dedication to get started (and completed). If I had deeper pockets, I would not even consider selling this bike, and up until a few months ago, you couldn’t have offered me any amount of money to buy it… But things change, I’ve come to terms, and I’m ready to move on. Bottom line is that I cannot afford to keep this and start another. It would cost you well in excess of $10,000 (parts and outsourced labor alone) to build this bike. That doesn’t begin to include the 100’s of hours (seriously) of labor, design, parts sourcing, fabricating, tuning, and maintaining that I have into it.."
Saturday, September 8, 2007
On Ebay: The 76 Kawasaki KH500 Cafe Racer.
Edited for size from The Hotrod homepage.