Suzuki T500. From superbike to kilo banger

Auto Motor Klassiek » Engines » Suzuki T500. From superbike to kilo banger
Purchasing classics there

BV NIMAG started in 1964 with the import of Suzuki motorcycles in the Netherlands. That turned out to be a bull's eye, because in 1972 Suzuki was the best-selling motorcycle brand in our country after Honda. The patriarch of the T(itan) 500 was the Suzuki Cobra, the T500 point 1. And the 500/FIVE was the warm-up for that again. Making such a big air-cooled two-stroke two-cylinder? No one had succeeded yet! And the Suzuki Cobra was also reliable and fast. That the first-generation Suzuki T500 (with their 34mm Mikunis and worry-free port timing) had massive gas mileage? Well: you only used such a thing to drive as fast as possible from gas station to gas station.

Evolution to the Suzuki Titan

In the days of the fat Suzuki two-strokes, the average age of us motorcyclists was really about twenty-five years lower than now. The world was not yet imbued with the now all-dominant fear-mongering that sees motorcyclists stuff yellow vests into their ears to prevent visible hearing damage. And driving? You always just did that as hard as possible. Then at least you were there before anything could happen.

It was good times for the big Suzukis. And their popularity of the Suzuki T500 increased significantly when the 'Cobras' turned into 'Titans'. From scary snakes to children of gods from ancient Greece. The most important thing in that transition was that the 'T(itan) 500's were considerably less thirsty than the Cobra's due to a changed port timing and the mounting of 32 instead of 34 mm Mikuni's. The chainstay also lengthened, 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 'suede' buddy seat simply got a skai jacket.

Problems and adjustments

The Suzuki Titan was the machine that had to prepare the Hamamatsu brand for the 4s. The fact that the machines were subsequently hardly changed during their entire construction period was stark proof of the soundness of the design and the quality of the execution. The actual only real pain points were the pitting that could occur on the XNUMX's sprocketse in 5. e gear. That problem was caused by too little lubrication (and something complicated with rotational speeds) at high speeds plus a design flaw in the lower crankcase. Both issues were addressed for the 1973 model year. But don't buy a Suzuki T500 whose box makes the sound of a steam locomotive pulling heavily.

End of the era and lasting appreciation

The Suzuki T500 evolved – or devalued – from an absolute top model to a competitively priced discontinued model. The era of two-stroke rule was over and in the latest advertisements Nimag offered the Suzukis for an extremely competitive 3.999 guilders. The fact that the T500s have already outgrown their 'offer of the week' factor is now proven by the fact that nowadays you have to pay at least the same amount of euros for a neat copy. The T500s were – and are – beautiful, sleek machines. They steered well for their time and the engines were smooth and gave enough torque and power even at lower revs. This made the 500 cc two-stroke twin tough competition for the British 650 cc four-stroke twins, which were at an absolute low in quality at the time. This combination of properties led to very good sales and a blowout in the supplier area.


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Suzuki t500. from superbike to kilo banger
Suzuki t500. from superbike to kilo banger
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  1. Nice article again, Dolf 👍. Had one but, piston rings worn out, new set cost fl750,-. I didn't have the money for it at the time. Later the machine also turned out to be crooked, due to the bad compression kicking was not an option, just push... And so it happened... the brutal 2-stroke suddenly hit and projected 🫣 the pilot like a sleeper of pallets in 20 m away. The captain was able to retell the story with some scruples. The Soes is incorporated into a pram 😉

  2. I bought a used 1975 T in 500 with Rob Bron tuning. Full cockpit, solid footrests and painted green by the previous owner in Ford Reseda. Got my driver's license on this motorcycle, after having had a BMW R26 for a while.
    The 500 T was great, perfect handling for the time, but thirsty indeed.
    The furthest trip was to a motorcycle meeting in Arhøs in Denmark.
    The next mptor was a Moto Guzzi 850 T3 California, wonderful engine.
    Thought about looking for a T500 for it.
    Current bike since 2004 an Aprilia SL1000 Falco.

    • Well, in the mid-70s I traded in my GT380 for a new GT500 with a disc brake at the front.
      A comrade from Borne still had the old version with drum brake. Indeed, problems with the block here and a torn exhaust due to the vibrations.
      And that torn-off exhaust happened to me too.
      Vibrations were decent and my girlfriend at the time I think quite enjoyed it.
      Did not wait for the other problems and then exchanged the engine for a Fiat 127.
      I can also write a book about this.
      Thanks to Piet van Dijk at the time.

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