Kawasaki Triples Bible
All Road Models 1968-1980 Plus H1R and H2R
by Alastair Walker
Publisher: Veloce Publishing Ltd., England
Publication Date: November 2010 in U.S. and UK
160 pages. Size: 250x207 mm
List Price: £30.00 UK; $59.95 in the U.S.
webBikeWorld.com Book Review by Rick K.
It's here! The Kawasaki Triples Bible has been a much-anticipated book for fans of this incredible machine and the book has finally arrived.
It was worth the wait!
I'm a huge fan of the Kawi triples, and the original Kawasaki 500 triple -- the Mach III -- is one of those "motorcycles that changed my life".
Yes -- I was there when it first went on sale, many years ago. Motorcycles were just starting to enter my consciousness back then, coincidentally around the same time I was just starting to drive a car.
Cars were cool but motorcycles were cooler and definitely more rebellious in those days. I wanted one! Actually, I could buy a car for about the same price as a bike -- used, of course. Which would it be?
Mom settled that one...I wasn't quite old enough to fight it yet. But a friend of mine was a year or two older which, in the teenage years, can be a lifetime of difference. He was more serious about two-wheeled transport, he had no problems with his Mom (she ok'd his trip to Woodstock and I snuck along...and glad I did!) and he was more knowledgeable than I about motorcycles.
Around that time -- and my memory is a bit fuzzy (it was the '60's, you know), we went over to the local (or should I say the only) BMW dealer to view the new /5's. I believe they had the R50/5, the R60/5 and the "huge" 750 cc R75/5 on display? That must have been 1968 or 1969?
Around the same time, we went to a Kawasaki dealer to see the new and acclaimed "Mach III".
This was a night and day experience, both in terms of the bike and the dealership. The BMWs (and the dealership) were Grandma's Victorian-styled cottage compared to the super-modern Mach III Triples (and the Kawasaki dealer), which looked more like something out of an "Op Art" (remember that?) poster.
When you're a kid, "the best" means "the fastest" and the Kawasaki 500 triple was it. The Mach III was all about quarter-mile times; Kawasaki wanted to demolish the competition and they got it.
The bike looked so sleek and fast and that striped fuel tank and the bold "Kawasaki" font and the smell of rubber and two-stroke oil in the Kawi dealership grabbed me. I became immediately hooked and honestly, it hasn't stopped yet. Thanks Kawasaki!
So I shouldn't have been surprised to find that when I cracked open the binding on Alastair Walker's new "Kawasaki Triples Bible", all of those old feelings washed over me like a Waimea shorebreak. The goose bumps up and down my arms; the butterflies in my stomach and the desire in my heart. You'd think after...what -- 42 years? -- that my senses would be pretty much immune to "The Feeling", but no. It's still there!
And now, after reading this fine book and drooling over the many color photos, I'm going to have to put a Kawi Triple on the "want" list. That's right -- it would be decades before I had the self-discipline to stick with a job long enough to save enough money to actually buy a motorcycle and by that time, the Triple was a long-ago classic.
There are probably far too many motorcycle "Bible" books, and this one actually laid on the shelf for a few weeks before I peeled off the protective cover to take a look. I hadn't paid much attention, and figured it was some type of Kawasaki Triples repair or restoration manual that would probably make a good reference book but boring reading.
I was wrong about that; Alastair Walker, the author, motorcycle magazine editor, writer and -- surprise! -- Kawasaki Triples fan from way back, has combined the technical information about dates and production data within an interesting narrative covering the entire life span of these classic motorcycles.
He started with a very interesting history of the marque -- a story probably unknown to many. In fact, the first Kawasaki I ever laid eyes on wasn't that Mach III, but a Kawasaki 350 Avenger A-7 (I think...that memory again), which belonged to a neighbor who also owned a Harley.
The 350 Avenger was one of the models sold by Kawasaki as they were establishing the brand in the U.S. in the 1960's, and it's covered also in this book as background for the development of the Mach III.
Many people equate the motorcycle boom of the 1960's with Honda dominance, but in fact Kawasaki was one of the first companies to aggressively pursue an American distribution and marketing strategy.
For example, the Mach III name was suggested by the U.S. dealer network, who considered the original "H1" moniker too boring. Thank goodness for that and the rest is history.
The book covers the rise of the 500 cc Triple and all of the Triple variants. Then, as environmental regulations began to thwart the two-stroke advantage, the bike's raw power and speed were tamed and that is also explained in great detail. The book describes all of the Triple variants, including the 750 cc Mach IV and the somewhat rare 250 cc and 400 cc Triples, along with the Triple race bikes, race series and racers.
Somewhat expensive in price -- but discounted in our webBikeWorld Amazon.com store links -- Kawasaki Triples Bible is chock-full of color and black-and-white photographs, advertisements, images of ads and magazine covers and more. It's an excellent read and a guide to the entire background and history of these amazing machines that are now highly coveted by collectors and Triples fans.
There's a lot of detailed information here; perhaps a bit too much for the casual Triples fan, but on the other hand, it's gold to Triples collectors. I will admit that some of the sections are a bit plodding, but overall, if you're interested in this bike, this is THE book, no doubt about it.
Walker also includes many sidebars, with spotter's guides, what to look for, variants and other tips for Triples collectors. Also included is the technical specifications for each Triples model, from the KH 250 cc to 400 cc series, to the 250 S1 and 350 S2, the H1 500 cc Triple (of course!) and the big H2 750 cc, along with minor running mechanical and color changes made by Kawasaki during production.
Also, many Triples owners were contacted during the production of the book, and many of them provided insight and memories about the various models of the bike. And there's also coverage of the H1C, a bike Kawasaki says never existed!
Many years ago, the Kawasaki 500 Mach III Triple was the final crumb of motivation I needed to become a lifetime motorcycle fan and I'll have to admit that although I've had a warm spot in my heart all these years for the brand, I never actually owned a Kawasaki. I secretly root for them in World Superbike though!
Some day -- hopefully soon -- I'll find one of those old Triples and get it running and it will really bring back the goose bumps. In the meantime, the Kawasaki Triples Bible is the next best thing!
Review Date: March 2011
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