The mid ‘70s was a time of contradiction and mayhem: Giant 2-strokes despite the fuel crisis, legends based on notoriety, little or no consideration for health and safety and the emphasis based purely on thrills. Happy days...
It seems crazy now to think that with the introduction of the incredibly successful Honda 4-stroke 750 back in ’68 that their rivals would even consider developing 2-stroke technology. But not only did they consider it, they decided to go ahead and manufacture even bigger, faster versions.
Honda had invested heavily and cleverly in what they considered to be the way forward – performance through sophistication. Kawasaki shelved their own 4-stroke 750 in a huff because Honda had beaten them to the Tokyo show, and decided to hedge their bets with performance strokers before returning a few years later with the magnificent Z1.
So at a time when the American market had shuddered with the horror of its first fuel crisis since the war, Kawasaki proceeded to go against the grain and major on old-school technology and staggeringly high levels of excitement with their now-legendary H2 750. That’s a 750cc two-stroke. Meanwhile Suzuki set out to provide a compromise that would hopefully appeal to potential buyers of both 2 and 4-stroke bikes.
The perfect solution, as far as Suzuki was concerned, would be to take smelly 2-stroke technology on to the next level. Water-cooling would show the world that not only is there life in the screamers, but a future through reduced noise and emissions with the increase in reliability to boot. The GT750 was born and whilst the press didn’t exactly rave about its performance, they were impressed with the technological advances and its future potential. The GT was a big old girl with the girth of a touring machine, and thanks to all the extra plumbing, she was destined to impress rather than thrill.
The result was two incredibly different machines. In the blue corner a technological showpiece for the more mature, eco-friendly customer, the Suzuki ‘Kettle’. In the purple corner is the Widow Maker, a noisy and terrifying relic for the less mature, psychopathic customer.
And so to today. In front of me are two stunning examples of motorcycles that adorned my bedroom wall for at least one year each, and they still create a rush of blood to the heart. The Kawasaki is as tiny as it is pretty - belying its savage nature, while the Suzuki is low and fat – perhaps declaring a sedate experience ahead. I absolutely have to start with the H2 because it’s hilarious. It is so pure and basic in the flesh that it’s impossible to imagine what else the designers could have left off it.
Continue the Class of '75 Road Test - 2/2
Great article, thank you very much i grinned and nodded to myself all the way through it.
Great bikes i recall them both although i rode the Honda Four for most of my youth... i remember clearly the day i traded in my CB 250 for a second hand K4 750, my mates on their 250's were in ore as i cruised the dual carriage way with all that extra power.....looking down at my polished blue petrol tank and seeing engine sticking out both sides below it, what a buzz.
Posted: 22/09/2009 at 19:57
Interesting article,isnt nostalgia a wonderful thing.I ran a tuned H1-D 500 for four years from 78, as my only form of transport,my brother had an H1-A,and a mate had an H2, and although i liked them all,they were very unreliable.We had to carry spare spark plugs under the seat,for when they oiled up or broke down.In the time i had mine i blew the crank 3 times,several pistons and had to replace the electronic ignition!.(Mind you it did get thrashed). By comparison i thought the H2 was quiet civilized,much wider spread of power than 500s.And as said above handling and braking was rubbish.Dont remember any of them vibrating bits loose though.
Posted: 23/09/2009 at 05:50
Posted: 24/10/2009 at 21:06
Posted: 10/12/2009 at 22:19
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