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Kawasaki Mach III

Price new - £616
Power – 60bhp
Weight – 184kg
Top Speed – 124mhp

Forget the 900cc Z1 and H2 triple, this was Kawasaki’s first UK superbike. The subtly-named Mach III arrived in 1969 with a genuine 124mhp top speed and a standing quarter-mils speed of 12.4 seconds.

The 500cc Mach III’s chassis was borrowed from its smaller brother the 250 twin Samurai, and the W650 gave up its front end and back wheel. The engine, on the other hand, was all-new: a three-cylinder, two-stroke unit that claimed 60bhp. The styling was sleek to, from the flat swept-back bars to the dual seat.

The successful recipe lead to the two-stroke triple dominating Kawasaki’s roadster range in the early 1970s in 250, 350, 400, 500 and 750 guises. The KH250 lived on to the end of the decade until the learner laws were tightened, removing its ready-made audience.

While the Z1 and the H2 held the limelight, the real Kawasaki anoraks would say this is the ultimate Kwacker. From the saddle it’s still outrageous even today, the exhaust wail is so infectious as you prepare to launch off the line. Sadly the handling doesn’t match the acceleration.