From Rust Bucket to Beauty Queen
This week I thought I’d switch gears and share with you the restoration of my 1975 Kawasaki H2. When it comes to the handful of bikes I have owned, this bike was the one where I would be completely heartbroken if something happened to it. Unfortunately that was just the case.
My love affair with two-stroke bikes started while in college and the Kawasaki H2 happened to be the king in this arena, it fascinated me. Naturally I had to get my hands on one, but I couldn’t afford a running or restored one. So it turned out I needed a project! On a Wednesday night in the spring of 2008 I was perusing craigslist, using one of the national search engines, and found a pair of 1975 H2s in Dallas. Instead of dutifully studying for an exam I had on Friday, I got to thinking about how I could feasibly get these bikes over the weekend. Thursday rolled around and I was still mulling things over in my head. One of my girl friends came around that night to study for an exam we had on Friday and I mentioned to her how I wanted to get the bikes. She suggested we leave that evening and go pick them up. She had a commitment on Sunday but if we left almost immediately we could make it back in time. I wasn’t completely sure if she was serious, but I found out soon enough that she was dead serious. So we set off for Dallas and I got a pair of basket case H2s.
When I got to Dallas I found that the bikes were in a worse shape than I had suspected, but I bought them anyway.
Once I got back to Minneapolis, my friend and I promptly submitted our doctor’s notes so that we could make up the exam. Along with finishing up my studies for the year I got to work on the bike.
Here the bikes are shortly after I got them home
The restoration has started!
Parts got sand blasted
Covers got polished
It took awhile but I was able to replicate the paint scheme pretty well using my homemade paint booth.
I carefully rebuilt my engine
Eventually after a lot of care, some head scratching (mostly due to the old wiring harness), and an awful lot of time I got the bike together and running.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this bike was the bike I would lose my mind over if something happened to it. Unfortunately the beauty was short lived. One fatefully hot summer day in July the bike tipped over and fell. Despite having the bike on its center stand, it still sank into the gooey tarmac and dented the freshly painted gas tank. Needless to say I was devastated.
One GP bike build and three years later, I finally got around to repainting the body work, making new exhausts pipes, reshaping the cylinder heads, adding reed valves to the engine, getting rid of 2lbs of brake rotor, and adding a decent caliper and master cylinder.
Now this bike, once a rust bucket, is even better and more beautiful than before. It’s hands down one of my favorite bikes to ride.
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