That clean, green, mean Kawasaki machine
Back in the early 1990s when I lived in the Boston area, I somehow connected with a motorcycle painter by the name of Bobby Allard.
Bobby actually lived in Rhode Island. He was about five years younger than me and still lived with his parents. He worked as a body man and painter, and told me he changed jobs about every six months because once they found out he could paint, they wouldn’t let him out of the paint booth. So he would quit and go somewhere else. And even though he still lived in his childhood home, he was building his own house and shop, and planned on moving there when it was done. He was doing it all with cash.
In any case, Bobby was a super-talented painter, and he loved motorcycles. I was restoring a lot of bikes back then- some were prize-winning restorations- and knowing someone like him who liked my projects was a huge asset. Bobby could replicate any stock color scheme, or he would do something different if I wanted it. He painted all of the graphics and clear-coated everything and it always looked fantastic. He would also paint frames and swingarms and such if I asked him to.
Bobby had some of his own motorcycles. One of them was a fantastic 1972 Kawasaki H2 750 triple. It was an early H2 with matching frame and engine numbers (I always heard the first four months of production were the fastest H2s and his was one of them). He painted it dark green with Kawasaki lime green stripes. And although it was pretty much all stock otherwise, it did have some black painted expansion chambers on it and high-compression pistons. I was in love with that bike.
He knew I liked it too, and one day he called me and asked if I wanted to buy it from him. I asked him how much he wanted for it and he told me $1000. Even though I had never ridden it, I told him I would take it.
A few days later, I got my then-wife “Sue” to drive me down to Bobby’s and I picked up the bike. I rode it the 40 miles or so back to our house with her following me. It was wild and brought me back to my youth when I owned a variety of KH500s, H1s, S1s, S2s, and S3s. Smoking and bucking, the 750 was the wildest three-cylinder two stroke motorcycle I had ever been on, and even though I hadn’t owned one before, I had ridden other H2s owned by friends. It was fast and scary, because it had practically no brakes at all. They were good for a couple applications and then just faded into oblivion.
As soon as we got home, Sue wanted to have a ride on it so I put her on the back and we took a short cruise on the amazing two lane roads all around our house in Sherborn, Massachusetts. With her on the back, it was extra scary- it felt like it had almost no brakes at all.
Of course, even though I had a fleet of motorcycles back then, including some new ones, that didn’t stop me from riding it most days to my office and elsewhere. It was just so darn fun! But eventually, I decided it was time to make it stop and handle better.
I found a guy in Boston who had a small shop that did custom bike work. He could build wheels and practically anything else one would need. I told him I wanted triple disc brakes, two on the front and one on the back. The bike had a rear drum and one disc up front when new. I also told him I wanted new alloy rims and stainless spokes. He built all-new wheels for it. He also put on some new Dunlops, along with an alloy Suzuki swingarm, new Progressive Suspension rear shocks, and new Progressive front fork springs, along with a few other performance and handling upgrades. Wow, what a difference those changes made! Suddenly, the bike actually handled almost decently and actually could stop on a dime. I loved that bike and it became the most ridden motorcycle in my fleet, second only in seat time to my then new Kawasaki ZG1000.
I had some friends who owned BMWs and were in the Yankee Beemers group that I would occasionally go on rides with. They thought that H2 was insane, and would laugh hysterically at how smoky it was and how I could wheelie it at any time, anywhere.
In the late 90s, I took a group of design firm CEOs to the Freddie Spencer Superbike school in Las Vegas. Freddie knew I rode an H2 and asked me, “You know why you ride that old Kawasaki you have?” I said, “Why?” Freddie said, “Because you like to be scared!”
I sold the bike (along with a number of others) in 2003 or 2004 when I was preparing to move from the Boston area to Fayetteville, Arkansas where I live today. I recently connected with the current owner (and the guy I sold it to) on a three-cylinder Kawasaki group page on FaceBook. He told me while it was cool how I had it set up, it was too valuable not to be stock, so he put it all back as it was when it was new.
*Here’s a short video the guy who bought it from me posted some years ago, before he returned it to stock-