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1972 Kawasaki F-9 Bighorn 350

    In 1970, kawasaki released the model F-5 Bighorn 350. It was Kawasakis' answer to the Yamaha RT-360. The F-5 was touted a "do it all motorcycle" that could be adjusted so suit different terrain and riding styles. The bike came with Hatta forks which gave three wheel positions at the bottom of the fork leg, and was externally adjustable for spring tension at the top of the fork. The shifter could be reversed to either side of the engine. it had five way adjustable Hatta shocks, and sported aluminium rims with trials tires wrapped around them.
    The engine was a 346cc two stroke engine with rotary disk valve rated at 28 horsepower. This powered a five speed gear box through a wet clutch. Oil injection and one of the earliest cdi ignitions were also a part of the package. The stock piston was an overly heavy cast aluminium piece, which was actually heavy enough to make the engine accelerate slower than normal. This piston also came with three rings, which was an oddity seeing as everything else had one or two. 
    This bike had its teething problems, everything from faulty ignitions, to rims cracking and bending, to spokes breaking. Some of the original F-5 models just plain never worked right from the get go. Kawasaki, in some cases, had to replace entire bikes with new ones because of issues. Super Hunky told me that when he was at dirt bike magazine, they had one for testing, which was miserable from the beginning. Kawasaki reworked the bike, and it was returned to dirt bike magazine for testing. 
    Kawasaki made a big deal out of the Hatta forks, and actually advertised them for sale at your local Kawasaki dealer, to fit motorcycles of any manufacture. From what i have read, these forks were adjustable in many ways, but none of them were right. Still, for 1970, this was pretty innovative. 
    Kawasaki had worked out most of the bugs by 1972 which included using chrome plated steel rims, heavier gauge spokes, added a brake wear indicator, and changed the heat shield on the exhaust pipe. The Hatta forks remained and Kawasaki renamed the bike the F-9 Bighorn. The Hatta forks were dropped in 1973, and the last year for the F-9 was 1975. The Kawasaki motorcycle identification guide lists  the F-9 as as a developed model F-5, but instructs you to use the service manual for the F-5.  
    My 1972 model F-9 was found living under a tree on a mountain, north east of Sussex, New Brunswick. The engine consists of a cylinder, cylinder head, and clutch cover at present. There are a lot of missing parts with this one. Having said that, I have never seen a bighorn in the flesh, and i always wondered what the big bore Kawasakis felt like to ride, so when the oppertunity presented itself, I added it to the collection. 
    I'm currently trying to complete the I.S.D.T. replica Kawasaki 125, so this bike will be a future project but have no fear, it will live again, but not as a stock F-9 . When this bike was originally manufactured, Kawasaki had John DeSoto hired as a factory/ development rider, and for him, they developed some pretty trick race bikes. We're Talking pre KX series here. His input undoubtedly led to the limited release of the model F-81M, F-11M, and F-12M, which were among the earlier motocross bikes from big K. Although Kawasaki never built a 350cc motocross bike, I have been considering building up a model F-9M DeSoto replica. This idea came from some very old pictures of DeSotos' works race bikes from the early 70's, which were individually unique, and never put into production. We'll see as time goes on. Below are the pages from the Kawasaki Identification Guide on the F-5/ F-9 motorcycles. Below that are pics of my F-9 as I received it. Right now it's in a sad state, but those who know me, can attest to the fact that i have built motorcycles from worse than this. 


    Below are pics of the beast