In the spring of 1969 the motorcycle world was excited to hear that Kawasaki had come up with something really new. Except for Dave Simmonds' 125 racer, Kawasaki was better known for its fighter planes than for anything else.
the air-cooled triple H1R
The new product was a two-stroke three-cylinder 500-cc. motorcycle and although its standard engine had 60 h.p. and an acceleration time from O to 60 m.p.h. of just over three seconds, it was not designed not for world championship racing but for the road. The Kawasaki triple was an immediate commercial success, and the company decided to develop a Grand Prix version.
There were a lot of Kawasakis at the starting line in 1970 world championship racing in the 500-cc. class however it took Ginger Molloy, the New Zealand racer, to ride one to second place in the championship, behind Agostini. Despite its power, the Kawasaki was a handful to ride and could be somewhat fragile.
Kawasaki brought out an improved model in 1971 with better chassis and brakes. Dave Simmonds rode it to one first place, one second, and two third places in the world championship, but in other races it was always outpaced by its obvious competitor, the Suzuki 500 Titan Daytona twin.
The last successful year for the Kawasaki 500 was 1972, the year Simmonds got a second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Motorcycle: Kawasaki 500 H1RA Manufacturer: Kawasaki Industries Ltd
Engine: Kawasaki three-cylinder, twostroke, with cross-port distribution
Displacement 498.7 cc. (60 mm. x 58.8 mm.)
Transmission: Five-speed block
Power: Over 75 h.p. at 9,000 r.p.m.
Maximum speed: Over 160 m.p.h.
Chassis: Double cradle, continuous, tubular. Front and rear, telescopic suspension
Brakes: Front, central drum, 4ls; rear, central drum, tls
Jack Findlay tries out an H1R with a Fontana 4ls front brake
© 1996 mbarnard