Classic Motorcycle Mechanics


Scoop’s guide on a mighty mini Kwak.

- cmm

Back in the day when folk didn’t have a lot of money and every single penny counted it was extremely common for the wage earner of the family to go to work on a motorcycle. In fact, until the inflation-prone 1970s it was often the only choice if public transport wasn’t a viable option. Pretty much every motorcycle factory turned out at least one small commuter motorcycle and often several. When South-east Asia became a powerhouse tiger economy the Japanese factories supplied millions of small capacity machines and these bikes were worked hard: damned hard. Sales of these smaller machines provided the funding for the Big Four to go racing and this month’s subject matter doubtless contribute­d the Kawasaki’s competitio­n successes both on track and on the dirt. The Kawasaki KH100 was but one in a long line of small capacity disc-valve two-strokes that began around 1965 with the likes of the 50cc J1T. From here Kawasaki increased capacity to 90ccs delivering machines such as the G1 commuter which in tuned format as the G1M moto-crosser turned out a frankly amazing 16bhp.

Yes, even then Kawasaki had a reputation for producing lairy pieces of kit. With a raft of commuter, trail, competitio­n and street scrambler 90s under their belt it was only a matter of time before the 90 became a 100 around 1975 in the guise of machines such as the G3SSE, G3T. A year later the entire Kawasaki range underwent a full brand and identity change and with the G moniker dropped and the bike rebadged as the KH100-B7; the KH prefix allegedly meaning ‘Kawasaki Highway’. From here on the same or a similar disc-valve motor with its characteri­stic air-filter on top of the crankcase would carry on into the early 1980s. Little changed other than its tin-ware, cosmetics and occasional use of cast alloy wheels. Catering for a global market, Kawasaki offered a revised version with an extra 10ccs in the early 1980s and the basic blueprint was carried over into the KH125 which hung on in some markets as late as 1987. In any manufactur­er’s books 20 years of productoin from the same fundamenta­l design is a significan­t achievemen­t. Although you’d not automatica­lly expect the KH to be an overtly sports orientated machine it arguably had the edge over its two most obvious rivals: Suzuki’s A100 and Yamaha’s YB100. All three run disc-valve induction engines in various states of tune but looking at quoted power outputs the KH generally comes out on top by around one horse. Not much you might argue but in the world of 100cc tiddlers that’s actually a 10% boost over its rivals. The other key area where the Kawasaki wins over its opponents is in its frame constructi­on. Both the A100 and YB100 utilise the traditiona­l and earliest form of Japanese chassis design, the robust and strong pressed steel T-bone type. Good as they are the KH100’S twin downtube, tubular, frame is both lighter and stiffer than its competitor­s’ and, crucially, triangulat­es the power unit rigidly which in turn makes for a better handling machine. And at the rear end the Kawasaki once again runs tubes in its swingarm unlike the pressed steel units of the Suzuki and Yamaha. So why might you want a Kawasaki KH100 today? For a start it’s a Kawasaki two-stroke which will always, without question, give the bike a certain cachet. Next, never underestim­ate the performanc­e and zing of a rotary-valved stroker; for their size and weight there’s little like them for instant drive on the throttle. Yes of course the bike is ‘only’ one hundred cubic centimetre­s but if you ignore the engine size along with the numbers on the speedo you’ll have the guarantee of an exhilarati­ng ride. It’s all about maintainin­g corner speed wherever possible and enjoying the sensation of getting the maximum out of that virtually unburstabl­e motor. Even at 100ccs you can still let the good times roll!

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 ??  ?? Motor fairly bulletproo­f.
Motor fairly bulletproo­f.
 ??  ?? Rear shocks deteriorat­e over time.
Rear shocks deteriorat­e over time.

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