Suzuki T 500-II Titan
Suzuki T 500M
Air cooled, two stroke, parallel two
Bore x Stroke
70 x 64 mm
2x 32mm Mikuni concentrics
Generator/battery / kick
44 hp @ 6000 rpm
5 Speed / chain
Dual shock absorbers
From here on out, no matter whatever happens,
Suzuki can still sit back, puff out their chests, and say they have done it.
When Art Baumann won Sears point, he did in fact become the first rider of a
two-stroke machine to win an AMA National.
On the surface, this may not seem like such a big
deal to a number of our readers, but if you mull over the events of the past 12
or 24 months, it seems incredible indeed that one or two lone Suzuki 500's stole
the thunder from the multi-motorcycle juggernaut known as the Yamaha Racing
Team. It has been a long painful row to hoe and this success has not been one
that has come about overnight.
Suzuki has come a long way since the introduction
of their first 500's in 1967.
After spending some time with Suzuki's largest
two-stroke twin (or the world's largest, for that matter), we have come to
discover that Suzuki has not been idle, but instead has been working
industriously to correct previous ills, and supplement the bike with new
improvements to excite the potential buyer.
One of these early ills was vibration. It was
discovered that the carburetors, of all things, were contributing no small part
to the engine's unwillingness to run smoothly. Along with the carburetor
situation, various balance factors were tried on different crankshafts, and
Suzuki felt an optimum balance had been achieved. However, the engine still
shook. Some of these earlier carburetion problems mentioned previously, we feel,
were introduced largely through this vibration situation, because after all, it
seems quite logical that if the engine is shaking, it is upsetting the
carburetion department. This happens on virtually every other engine we have run
across, and we see no reason to believe the Suzuki 500 is any different.
Right here, before anybody gets the wrong idea,
perhaps we had better set the record straight and explain exactly why the 500
does vibrate a bit. When you stop and think about it, inasmuch as the Suzuki 500
is the biggest two-stroke twin going, it seems that all of the reciprocating
parts are also quite large. Now we all know, the larger the reciprocating parts
are, the more chance there is for the whole outfit to shake a bit, and this is
exactly what has happened. So what the factory has done is take the logical
"out" and rubber-mount the engine. So much for the vibration.
One of the features we feel Suzuki has done an
outstanding job on is the gearbox. Except perhaps for one thing. When
downshifting, every time we would miss low gear. The transmission insisted on
shifting into neutral and not go into low. The transmission is designed to do
this purposely. Under normal circumstances this should not be any problem, but
if the rider is pressing things a bit and he is depending on this shift into low
to .insure his well being, then consider yourself forewarned. The shift throw is
a bit on the long side, but the box itself is ultra-smooth. There is absolutely
no trace of any grinding or grating, and except for the aforementioned low gear
situation, every shift, up or down, is absolutely positive and can be made with
a minimum of effort.
Under most conditions, the multi-plate wet clutch
found hanging on the end of .the transmission worked fine, even after repeated
trips down the drag strip. We did notice, however, that while the clutch did not
slip, after two hard runs at the drags, the clutch started to tighten up a bit
and drag. It was necessary to use a finger or two on the front brake in order to
stage the machine properly and keep the bike from rolling forward. It is
entirely possible that a different type of lubricant in the gearbox would solve
this. (In all good conscience we cannot tell all the Suzuki 500 owners to
substitute the oil in the transmission with automatic transmission fluid, but we
know from past experience that this has worked wonderfully in other motorcycles
exhibiting the same problem.)
While on the subject of transmissions, it might
be worthwhile to mention here the gear ratio in the kick-starting mechanism is
quite low (high numerically), so kicking over this biggest of twins is easy for
One interesting thing about the Suzuki 500
gearbox is that the gears themselves don't move, but the dogs do. This is rather
unusual, since most of the other motorcycle constant mesh cog boxes insist that
transmission gears themselves slide back and forth on their respective shafts.
If the transmission layout is a bit unconventional, so is the chassis. The 500
sports what is probably the longest swinging arm in the should. The truth of the
matter is, we were really quite puzzled since we know that in a slightly
modified form, this engine is quite capable of putting out large doses of
horsepower. The engine started easily and ran quite smoothly, but the kind of
horsepower we expected just wasn't there. You will notice we used the term "the
kind of horsepower." While the machine did not seem to accelerate as quickly as
it should, it definitely was very fast. It ran 106 miles an hour, and while it
took awhile to get down there, drag strip trap speeds were in the mid-90's. This
is very good for a 650, let alone a '500.' The E.T.'s, were in the 14.20 area.
This is not so good. Although not very quick, it was fast. We feel that a change
in gearing could possibly do something to correct this.
We might also mention at this point, the engine
pumps out enough power to allow the rider to get down the road at 90 to 100 mph
all day long if this is his bag. Not only that, but he has a chassis that will
handle this type speed without getting the pilot in trouble.
Suzuki made two other changes this year, both of
which we dislike. First is the gas tank cap. In an effort to change the styling
somewhat, they have added an additional panel, painted flat black, to the top of
their existing fuel holder. But what they forgot to do was to change the gas
cap. It is impossible, to remove the fuel cap with gloves on. The cap itself is
sunk down so low that only through a great deal of effort can the cap be removed
to put gas in. A taller filler neck (or cap) would help solve this. Somebody
mentioned putting a doorknob on top of the gas cap. This would help.
The other change was the addition of motorcycle
industry. Also, the engine is pushed so far forward the machine looks a bit
strange until you realize exactly what it is. We looked at that swinging arm
rather skeptically, and imagined all sorts of bad things, but we were wrong. The
swinging arm itself has more than substantial gusseting and bracing. Likewise
the frame. But you have to pay a price to achieve this stiffness. As a result,
the entire chassis is heavy. As a matter of fact, the whole motorcycle is quite
heavy. Our machine weighed 422 lbs. and a good portion of this weight is from
the chassis, and not the engine.
We have been told by a number of people that the
engine itself is quite heavy and this is what contributes to the large overall
weight. Not so. We found that the engine weighs about 140 lbs., so you can see
that by simple subtraction, a lot of the weight is in the chassis, not the
Although a bit on the heavy side, we were
somewhat surprised at the agility and sure tracking qualities the chassis
exhibits when being pressed very hard. There is no doubt that the suspension has
received a great deal of attention, and as one rider put it, the bike kind of
sneaks up on you. It's about as sure-footed as any motorcycle can be, and this
one fact is something that Suzuki is very happy about.
The first time rider of a '500' is in for quite a
surprise. While the mechanical engine noise is low, the air induction noise is
quite the opposite. When you grab a handful of throttle pulling away from a
stoplight or passing a car, the intake system makes an unusually loud sound that
lets everybody in the area know that you're on your way. Perhaps some of you may
think this is an exaggeration, but if you do, just try it. It is our opinion
that something could be done about this, as we found this quite objectionable.
Other motorcycles have had this same problem, and most have done a very
effective job in correcting it.
We were also a bit disappointed on the
acceleration the big Suzuki is capable of. It would seem that no matter what
gear we were in, or what rpm we tried it at, the '500' would not move out and
pass as quickly as we thought it a parcel rack just behind the gas cap. On the
surface this sounds like a great idea, but in actual practice, it turns out to
be just the opposite. If you are riding double and have to stop very quickly,
the rear passenger almost always slides forward slightly, and will push your
lower extremities into the parcel rack. The result is a great deal of pain.
Better you should take off the parcel rack.
One thing we thought especially good is the brake
department. Although the machine is a bit on the heavy side, both anchors never
failed to get both the rider and the machine stopped within the allotted space.
Actually we found it was quite simple to lock the front brake at fairly high
speeds, which indicates there is more than sufficient braking force there for
the asking. The rear brake was somewhat softer, but still adequate. This was not
too surprising since the front anchor . is of the double leading shoe variety
while the back one is a single-cam type.
All things considered, we liked the Suzuki 500
very much. It did what we asked of it, for the most part, and it did its job
while extracting the minimum amount of strain from the rider. At the same time,
it gives him a more than average amount of enjoyment. For the price, the Titan
is a tough package to beat. It offers performance, quality, handling, brakes and
It would be a foolish rider indeed who, when
considering an expensive larger displacement motorcycle, does not try this one
on for size.
Source Cycle Guide 1971