H1R – the H1’s track cousin

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CLASSIC EVENT -

The H1 was des­tined for the track. No racer could ig­nore a sub-13-sec­ond quar­ter and 125mph top speed. Good­bye Manx Nor­ton, hello Green Meanie. In the early 70s the world’s race tracks re­ally did switch from the mono­chrome years of Brit sin­gles and black leathers to the start of the mul­ti­coloured multi-cylin­der fu­ture. Painted elec­tric ‘Molly’ green, the H1-de­rived H1R pro­duc­tion racer was a leader of the new-age pack. In fact the rac­ing started even be­fore Kawasaki could get started with mak­ing their H1R rac­ers, as we know from the afore­men­tioned 1969 Bol d’or prod­die-rac­ing suc­cess. There’d be more prod­die suc­cess to come, too, not least Keith Martin’s im­pres­sive Pro­duc­tion 500cc TT win in 1974 dur­ing which he hus­tled the H1 round to a 95.21mph lap speed! But it was in 1970 with the H1R that Kawasaki ratch­eted the whole game up a fair bit. The en­gine got souped up to an amaz­ing 75hp, while the weight dropped to just 145kg. Kawasaki sold 40 ex­am­ples to race teams and pri­va­teers and th­ese were eas­ily good enough for grands prix suc­cess, as ably demon­strated by New Zealand jour­ney­man-racer Gin­ger Mol­loy who rode his H1R to run­ner-up (to Ago and his MV) in the 1970 500GP cham­pi­onship. Kenny Blake rode an­other to victory at Bathurst (Down Un­der) while Bill Smith took yet an­other H1R to third in the 1970 Se­nior TT (again, be­hind Ago). A year later Dave Sim­monds scored Kawasaki’s one and only 500GP win with his H1R at the 1971 Span­ish GP at Jarama. The de­sign was still go­ing strong years later, for in 1975 (with a wa­ter-cooled ver­sion) Mick Grant snagged the Se­nior TT. Noth­ing lasts for­ever in rac­ing, though, the end for the H1R was of course has­tened by the ar­rival of Suzuki’s RG500 in 1976.

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