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Suzuki T500 (1968-1975). From Godenzoon to stunt price offer

ER Classics Desktop 2022

The patriarch of the Suzuki T500 was the Suzuki Cobra, the T500 point 1. And the 500/FIVE was the warm-up for that. That the first-generation Suzuki 500 twins (with their 34mm Mikunis and carefree port timing) had massive gas mileage? Oh well: you only used such a thing to drive as fast as possible from gas station to gas station.

These were good times for the big Suzukis

And their popularity soared once again when the 'Cobras' morphed into 'Titans'. The most important thing in that transition was that the 'T(itan) 500s were considerably less thirsty than the Cobras due to a changed port timing and the mounting of 32- instead of 34 mm Mikuni's. The chainstays also got longer, making the T's such brave trotters with room for two and luggage. The Cobra tanks with the now dated chrome sides disappeared and the unique 'suedex' buddy seat was simply given a skai jacket. The Suzuki Titan was the machine that had to prepare the brand from Hamamatsu for the seventies.


Constant quality

The fact that the machines were actually hardly changed during their entire build period was rock-solid proof of the health of the design and the quality of the execution. The actual only real pain points were the pitting that could occur on the 4 . sprocketse in 5. e acceleration. That problem was caused by lack of lubrication (and something complicated with orbital speeds) at high speeds plus a design flaw in the crankcase. Do not buy a T500 whose body makes the sound of a heavy pulling steam locomotive. The gear sets for the fourth and fifth gear are now gone.

Up hill and down hill

The T500 evolved – or devalued – from an absolute topper to a very competitively priced run-out model. A kind of Jawa+. The era of the reign of the two-stroke was over and in the latest advertisements Nimag offered the Suzukis for an extremely competitive 3.999 guilders. The fact that the T500's have already outgrown their 'offer of the week' factor is now proven because nowadays you have to pay at least the same in euros for a neat copy.

Saved by the numbers

It is only the large numbers of machines sold that have ensured that there are still enough original copies. After the port timing changes with the introduction of the T-models, not much changed on the machines until 1975. The years of construction can be distinguished on the basis of the frame numbers and color scheme. The combinations of 'incorrect' color parts in connection with frame numbers are very common and can be disturbing for purists.

Drum brakes only

All T500 models up to and including '75 are produced with a drum brake in the front wheel. The successor Suzuki T500 model is called GT76 from '500 and has a disc brake in the front wheel, electronic ignition, larger tank and a different instrument panel. The last GT500's are sold in '78 as B's (old age).

The current value indication

Challenging projects from €1.250. Then the counter will start ticking! In the meantime, € 500 or more can be asked for a very nice, good T5.500 with patina or restored.

5 Comments

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  1. T 500, such a blue one with great pleasure driven. I overhauled the box myself after I was towed from Zaltbommel to Loenen by another T 500 driver. You wouldn't start doing that now anyway. But hey in 1976 those were normal things.

  2. Have owned 3 500 two-strokes for daily use, even in winter.
    The paint was sensitive to brine. Had a hole in one of the pistons several times in the summer. Can repair yourself. After quite a few kilometers, seals at the connecting rod started to leak, causing the crankcase oil to burn.
    I now enjoy driving a Laverda 750.

  3. Had it from 75 to 79. Many original parts were replaced by a rickman fairing tank and seat. Required some adjustments. The engine was then used for fast track work. Very nice and as the experience increased I adapted a lot to the bike and frame what the bike could tolerate well. Very nice bike with a nice side effect, he or she always did it and never let me down. For normal road use I drove a honda cb500t. Both bikes are unfortunately no longer in my possession, very nice bikes for a small collection.

  4. My first bike was also a Suzuki T 500, exactly like the one in the picture, bad brakes and a weak frame but I thought it was a great bike, the high fuel consumption was not an issue!

    • I had such a green one in 1972, the gearbox needed a little more oil than indicated.
      Bought it second hand with full fairing. Didn't get faster than 175 km/h when I dove full throttle into the Heinenoord tunnel. Exchanged for a BSA Lightning a year later.

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