The Kawasaki 500cc H1R
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 Tokyo
Engine: Kawasaki three-cylinder, twostroke, with cross-port
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
To the H2R pages
to the Classic page