The bike that opened Kawasaki’s account in the madness stakes, the 500cc H1, is quite a rare find these days and even harder to drop of the important parts to complete a restoration. Kawasaki Triples club treasurer Keith Philpott, a 49 year old systems engineer for Xerox, is a confirmed fan of three pot motorcycles although his own biking career began on the Suzuki variety with a brace of GT380’s passing through his hands in the seventies, he claims he couldn’t afford a Kawasaki back then as they were the most expensive of the four Japanese brands at the time. It wasn’t until the mid eighties that he finally got his hands on a Kwak stroker eventually adding a 350 to two 750cc H2s and a pair of H1’s. Also in the Philpott collection sits a pair of KT250 trail bikes proving that it doesn’t have to be bristling with exhausts pipes to be of interest to Keith.
The immaculate machine seen here didn’t enter the UK as such, in fact when the triple arrived in its container from Minnesota it looked more like a chop than anything else sporting as it did lengthened forks and a king and queen seat, not to mention a lurid red and black paintjob. It was cheap however and Keith’s mate Andy Vine bought it with the idea of returning the once proud mental machine back to its original condition. Many parts were sourced and stored ready for the day when the “madasafish” triple would once again scare the pants off an unwary rider but four years later the H1 still hadn’t begun its journey from part chopper to heart stopper! Fortunately Keith had badgered Andy to let him have the Kwak every step of the way and eventually around 1997 he gave in and the parts made yet another journey to the Philpott workshop.
Before too long the bike started to take shape with many calls to Z-Power and also to his buddies within the Triples club, without membership of which Keith admits that the job would have been all but impossible, the Midnight White H1 started to take shape. Some lugs had been removed by the stateside chop builder but these have since been replaced making it possible to fit the missing body parts and the tank, seat and wheels were sourced from used spares supplies. Luckily Keith found most of the parts the needed in the US and found that the quality of used parts is generally much higher than their UK counterparts (probably because they take the bits off to build choppers?). Although the bike looks immaculate and finished, it has after all won highly commended awards at the CMM show along with best bike at this years Donington Park classic show there remains a couple of areas that Keith would like to improve as the exhausts are not in “as new” condition but to date he has yet to track down a new set and admits that, due to the scarcity of H1 parts, he may never find any.
Kawasaki H1 Restoration Gallery