1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV | Me & My Bike

Photography by Ari Henning

Name: Mitch Feingersch
Age: 61
Home: Porter Ranch, California
Occupation: Insurance agency owner

It’s September 1978. There I am on the Pomona freeway heading in to work. Rather, I’m sitting in my car in gridlock waiting for the endless line of cars to move so I can get to work. Then a motorcycle whizzes by me, splitting lanes. I knew right then, that was for me. No more sitting in line waiting. I could get to the front and actually discover who or what was holding things up.

I’d never owned a bike before, but luckily a coworker by the name of Don Gately was well experienced and happened to have a bike for sale. After advising that a 750cc two-stroke wasn’t a beginner bike, a deal was quickly struck for the exorbitant price of $650. It didn’t take long to acclimate myself to the machine, and within a few weeks it seemed like I had been riding all my life. There were many trips to the Rock Store, Newcomb’s Ranch, the back way to Ojai, and those wonderful roads north of Valencia. I couldn’t get enough of it.

After putting about 55,000 miles on the bike, other interests beckoned and the H2 went into quiet retirement alongside my ‘85 Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo in the garage. Flash forward to 2010. Time to ride again. Sixteen years in dry storage meant the H2 needed some serious TLC, but no local dealership was interested in—or could be trusted with—the task. Gary Shumake of Spec II seemed like the guy for the job, and so work commenced. It was not as simple as I thought. The more I did, the more I found out I needed to have done. The bike was put away in good condition, but new crank seals, Wiseco pistons, and new connecting rods were must-have menu items for reliability. The speedometer and tachometer were calibrated and serviced at Hollywood Speedometer and Clock. There were many other small cosmetic fixes that I considered clean-up work. Thankfully, the Internet moved a bunch of parts from unobtainable to just a click away. Spec II did the heavy lifting, but I chipped in and rebuilt the fork, master cylinder, and front brake assembly myself. Buchanan Spoke and Wheel supplied a complete set of new spokes, topped with a fresh set of Metzelers.

Two years later, my old friend and a little of my youth are back. This is like a time machine. It is hard to impart the feeling of slinging a leg over the saddle for the first time in more than 16 years, kickstarting her up and listening to that sound. I have always said that there are three sounds in motorcycling: Harleys, H2s, and everything else. Oh, and that smell! These old two-strokes are really something. New machines just can’t match it. With a little luck, there will be many more years of riding ahead.

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gdusseau
Two-stroke street bikes will always be a part of my motorcycling life, if only in my dreams.  Ummm...that smell!
Daddio7
I just turned 61. My 81 KZ 750 has been in garage for 25 years. my son-in-law wants to fix it up. Maybe I can get going before Daytona Speed Weeks. last time I went was 1985.
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