Kawasaki did not build its first bike - a 125cc two-stroke - until 1960. From the get-go, though, it was synonymous with high-performance, devil-may-care machines. Bikes like the Kawasaki H1, for instance. It officially hit the streets at the tail-end of the Sixties. But, it is one of those mythical machines which make lovers of Seventies superbikes come over all misty-eyed. For, it was in that decade that the H1 was most ridden - usually, hell for leather - along the highways and byways. And, if the H1's handling was a bit 'imprecise' - which it was - hey, that only added to the fun!
The H1 had a power output of 60bhp - courtesy of a three-cylinder engine. The 500cc 'stroker' screamed all the way to a top speed of 120mph. It did so in a way that brought tears to the eyes of those brought up on a strictly 'Brit bike' diet. Heck, the sound it made was better than 'Bill Haley & His Comets'! The H1's meagre weight of 383lb certainly helped with its blistering acceleration. Revs peaked at 7,500rpm ... with a noticeable surge as they entered the power band.
Ironically, Kawasaki's first forays into motorcycle manufacture were influenced by BSA. By now, though, the Japanese giant had forged its own style. Middleweight though it was, the H1 passed muster among the big Seventies 'muscle bikes'. Naked aggression more than made up for diminutive dimensions. The Kawasaki H1 stirred '70s bodies and souls in equal measure!