The ICON Airmada Scrawl helmet

Kawasaki H1 Mach III

Kawasaki H1“Responsible for changing the vernacular of motorcycling, the terms ‘wheelie’ and ‘tank slapping’ were invented by the exasperated pilots of the Mach III. With a top speed of 130mph, the combination of significant frame flex, negative rear wheel weight distribution and an extremely ‘abrupt’ power step at 6000rpm through to its redline, the Mach III was the most antisocial speed kit you could get your hands on.” Great reading from the online catalogue for Webb’s auction of Vintage and Collectable Motorcycles on 18 March. Estimate: NZ$8,000 to $14,000.

  • Eli

    I bought one of these monsters back in 1969, when it was still new on the US market. Incredibly fast acceleration for its day — 12 second quarter mile, right out of the box — but tricky to handle in the corners. I used to ride from San Diego to Portland, OR from time to time, 1200 miles straight through on the Mach III. The worst aspect of it, other than everything wearing out quickly, was the fuel consumption. 25 mpg highway, about 20 mpg around town.

  • R

    From the pictures that bike looks not only used but a little beat up. A brand new one of those today would maybe be worth 10 grand U.S. They aren’t that rare at all.

  • The rarity represented in the example is that it has not been restored by a re-visitor, but owned and ridden by its original rider since new. It is beaten up, they tended to do that to themselves. By the way, this is actually a 1970 model, the fastest Mach III ever produced.

  • Gaz

    Traded my van to a buddy for a ’71 for two weeks – clueless novice meets holy terror (and loves it). Managed a wheelie from the curb with girlfriend on the back by some miracle, and survived 100 hours of genuine insanity ’till best friend brought the van back – thank god.
    I remember this bike as vividly as I remember my first – – – everything else.
    I was 22 then and 60 now but I’m typing this with a grin.

  • Gaz

    Forgot to mention – the poorly isolated two-stroke buzz made vision very iffy at any substantial RPM – not that it mattered since the thing was ballistic in the point and shoot sense. You just aimed it and pulled the trigger and, like a bullet, subsequent course changes were unlikely for a “pro” like me.
    Hanging on was the big challenge since the sadle didn’t help much.

  • rgetnoff

    I’ve got a ’69 right now with less than 2000 miles on it. It sat since 1971, and I found it next to a dumpster at a Harley shop and bought it for $200. I got it running soon thereafter with very little effort. The tank was rusted inside, but the carbs were clean–slides were stuck. Added a battery and race fuel blend to get 100 octane and the thing runs like a bat out of hell. It’s a hundred percent original plus a minor dent, scuff or rust–even the air in the tires are original. This one is my second ’69 (the previous one 25 years ago), but way faster than the first and the first had dencos on it.

  • Gaz

    Hey rgetnoff – wanna borrow my van?