BUYING – WHAT TO LOOK FOR
UK vs IMPORTS
> H2s for all markets are mechanically identical, so the riding experience is the same. The difference is cosmetic – UK bikes have longer mudguards (full chrome at the back), no provision for side-mount reflectors, a replaceable headlight bulb instead of a sealed unit, lower ’bars and a pillion strap on the seat. A UK bike is worth 15-20 per cent more than an import in the same condition.
> Another factor in value is the frame/ engine pairing. Although the chassis/engine numbers don’t match like a Yamaha, a bike with a replacement engine is worth up to £2500 less. A quick check is to see how the numbers relate – engines should be later, but within 200 numbers of the frame. If you’re serious about buying, contact Rick Brett and his definitive H2 numbers database.
> A correctly-built engine should need no attention for the sort of Sunday use most H2s see. Engines that have been neglected suffer seized barrels, so you’ll need to make a drawplate to exert gentle tension to lift them intact. Make sure first gear doesn’t jump out – all the gears are up, so people accidentally go back to neutral, then crunch back up to first. Stronger clutch springs to reduce slip, and an improved clutch lifter for ’72-’74 bikes (H2CS were uprated as standard) to replace the weak original plastic worm gear is wise (see vintagekawasaki.com). Wossner/wiseco pistons are available up to a 2.5mm oversize, giving 803cc.
> Much is available to keep H2s on the roads now, and most of it is very good. Exhausts, generator/oil pump covers, discs and more are available as reproductions. Surprisingly, genuine parts are still in good supply in some areas, but crash-vulnerable parts (headlamps, brackets, pedals and exhausts) have dried up, so used parts are sought after. A bike restored with a significant number of repro parts is worth less to purists – up to 20 per cent depending on the extent.
> Stick with standard tyre sizes and stocklength shocks to mimimise high-speed weaving. Avon Roadriders (as on our test bike) are good, but anything with a modern design is better than period tyres. Headstock grease is often hardened on imports and unused bikes, creating a notchy feel. A regrease sorts it.
> Tanks last well, and are interchangeable from 1972-1974, though the caps differ. H2C tanks are unique, so sell for £300 used compared to £100-£150 for other models. Sidepanel lugs can break. Mudguards aren’t available, and replica seat bases made from the correct steel are only available for ’72/’73 bikes. Incorrect plastic replicas are sold for later bikes if you’re stuck.
> Usual blocked jets and passages arise from long-term storage. Brass floats puncture and sink too. Oil check valves can fail – check the oil feed tubes for air bubbles, and after extended inactivity it’s wise to remove the plugs and kick the motor over to check the oil hasn’t drained into the cases ready to cause a catastrophic hydraulic lock. If you remove the feed to check, you should be able to suck through the valve but not blow back. Fully-synthetic oil doesn’t burn well on the low-revving H2, especially with gentler use. Semi-synthetic is fine for stock road bikes.
> Stock brakes are poor. Aftermarket or custom-fit options are limited only by your budget and engineering skills. A double-disc option was rare due to its cost – but Z-power offer a pattern second disc, caliper, hoses/ splitter and mastercylinder for £395. Well worth the investment.
• Rick Brett – kawa[email protected], 07970 120000. Any and all H2 knowledge, chassis/engine number checks • Downpipe3 Crankshafts – 07779 094462 or down[email protected]world.com. Rick’s recommended triple crank specialist • Vintagekawasaki.com – uprated clutch lifter for H2, H2A and H2B models • Kawasakitriplesclub.com
Speedo isn’t always totally honest