Suzuki T500: history, specs, pictures

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Suzuki T500
Also called Cobra, Titan, T 500
Production 1968 - 1975
Class Standard
Successor Suzuki GT500
492cc twin, two-stroke
Bore / Stroke 70.0mm x 64.0mm
Compression ratio 6.6:1
Top Speed 106 mph (170 km/h)
Horsepower 46.0 HP (34.3 KW) @ 7000RPM
Torque 36.88 ft/lbs (50.0 Nm) @ 6000RPM
Fuel System 2x Mikuni VM34SC 34mm '68
2x Mikuni VM32SC '69-75
Spark Plug NGK B7HS '70-75
Battery YUASA 12N7-4A '70-75
Transmission Gear box: 5-speed

Final Drive: chain

Clutch: Wet multi-plate
Final Drive Chain: 530 ‘70-75[1]
Suspension Front: Telescopic fork
Rear: Dual shock absorbers
Brakes Front: expanding brake
Rear: expanding brake
Front Tire 3.25-19
Rear Tire 4.00-18
Wheelbase 57.28 inches (1455 mm)
Length 86.42 inches (2195 mm)
Width 34.61 inches (879 mm)
Weight 187.0 kg (wet)
Recommended Oil Suzuki ECSTAR 10w40
Fuel Capacity 3.7 Gallon (14.00 Liters)
Related Suzuki TR500 (Race version)
Suzuki GT380
Suzuki GT550
Competition Norton Manx
Matchless G50
Triumph T100T
Kawasaki H1
Honda CB450
Manuals Service Manual

Brochures ·

The Suzuki T500 was a twin, two-stroke motorcycle produced by Suzuki between 1968 and 1974. It could reach a top speed of 106 mph (170 km/h). Max torque was 36.88 ft/lbs (50.0 Nm) @ 6000 RPM. Claimed horsepower was 46.0 HP (34.3 KW) @ 7000 RPM.

History[edit | edit source]

When the Suzuki T500 was unveiled in 1967, the experts hedged their bets. While it was along with the 650 Kawasaki W1 the most powerful Japanese production bike, it was also a two-stroke. Could it swallow all that power? What would be its consumption of gas, oil and spark plugs? Most importantly, would such a machine prove reliable?

Saved by Careful Design[edit | edit source]

Certainly, if the T500 wasn't the first large capacity two-stroke -there had been a 650 Scott previously -it was the first to flirt with such levels of performance. Attention was given to cooling, with the exhaust pipes splayed outwards to allow cool air to play directly on to the cylinders, and the importance accorded to lubrication (with a more highly developed pressure lubrication system than that of Yamaha) allowed the T500 to establish itself as a genuinely sporty bike beneath its excessively sober raiment.

The Long-Legged Look[edit | edit source]

Suzuki had been particularly careful to set the engine well forward in the frame to limit the chances of doing wheelies when accelerating; the long-wheelbase gave the T500 a particularly appealing look. After a natural period of mistrust, the career of the big Suzuki two-stroke really took off -until the arrival of even more spectacular competitors. Despite its conservative bottom-end design, the T500 even enjoyed a certain amount of success: it finished second at the Daytona 200 in 1969 and --above all-- became World Championship runner-up in 1971. A modified version was the first two-stroke to win an AMA National Road Race.

The T 500, being the bike that couldn't be built, was a sensation in 1968. A big two-stroke that ran faultlessly, didn't foul plugs, performed like a 650cc four stroke, but was light and cheap to buy. It had strange handling, the thirst of a cane-cutter and by today's standards woeful brakes. It looked kinda dumpy too, in typical 60's Japanese style, with a velour seat, a short wheelbase and a watermelon shaped petrol tank. 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.

Engine[edit | edit source]

The engine was a air cooled twin, two-stroke. A 70.0mm bore x 64.0mm stroke result in a displacement of just 492.0 cubic centimeters. Fuel was supplied via a port control.

Drive[edit | edit source]

The bike has a 5-speed transmission. Power was moderated via the Wet multi-plate.

Chassis[edit | edit source]

It came with a 3.25-19 front tire and a 4.00-18 rear tire. Stopping was achieved via expanding brake in the front and a expanding brake in the rear. The front suspension was a Telescopic fork while the rear was equipped with a Dual shock absorbers. The T500 was fitted with a 3.7 Gallon (14.00 Liters) fuel tank. The wheelbase was 57.28 inches (1455 mm) long.

1968 T500 Cobra[edit | edit source]

1969 T500 II Titan[edit | edit source]


The T500-II of 1969/70 came in Candy Gold with a Suzuki "S" badge on the tank, the T500-III of late 1970 was similar except for the tank luggage rack fitted as standard.

1970 T500III Titan[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: N/A
  • ENGINE #: N/A
  • ENGINE TYPE: . . . 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: . . . 151
  • COLOR: Corporate Blue, Lime Green
  • Tank rack
  • S tank emblems

1971 T500R[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: 1500-30846
  • ENGINE #: T500-30846
  • ENGINE TYPE: 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: 151
  • COLOR: California Burgundy, Newport, Candy Lavender
  • White tank stripes
  • Headlight flat at bottom
  • Flip-up gas cap

New metal "Suzuki" tank badge which would remain standard fitment until 1975.

1972 T500J[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: T500-46463
  • ENGINE #: T500-46463
  • ENGINE TYPE: 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: 151
  • COLOR: Summit Copper, Cascade Green
  • White tank stripes
  • Thin chrome ring at bottom of gauges

A noticeable change for this year was the adoption of a larger tail-light lens which would remain standard on the GT range as well.

1973 T500K[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: T500-59779
  • ENGINE #: ..... T500-59779
  • ENGINE TYPE: . . . 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: . . . 151
  • COLOR: Coronado Blue, Wine Red
  • Round headlight

The new models T500K & L were designed to accommodate 1400cc of gearbox oil, some 200cc more than the earlier models. This modification ensured that high speed running would not lead to oil starvation of the 5th, 4th and 3rd speed gear clusters. The bane of T500's until now, the inadequate gearbox oil supply could, over time, lead to pitting of the gears and their eventual destruction as the case hardening deteriorated. It is easy to tell if the gearbox on an early model is on the way out, when riding the bike the gearbox will make as much noise as a steam driven freight train pulling up hill. Perusal of any T500 enthusiast's garage will unearth a comprehensive supply of stuffed 4th and 5th gear clusters!

Suzuki also modified the lower crankcase half of the motor to resolve a long-standing design weakness.

Perhaps in a bid to make their GT range of triples more attractive, the Suzuki factory de-tuned the T500. In Australia the maximum power of the T500 was as low as 44 horsepower for the 1973-year's K model. The subtle changes to the inlet port and the carburetors had robbed the T500 of almost 3hp and returned the fuel economy to near Cobra standards.

The cynical marketing exercise of de-tuning the Suzuki T500 to make the GT range more attractive did not work. The GT380 and 550 triples were overweight, peaky and unattractive. The T500 had a loyal following and still sold steadily if unremarkably.

1974 T500L[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: T500-68083
  • ENGINE #: ..... T500-68083
  • ENGINE TYPE: . . . 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: . . . 153
  • COLOR: Gypsy Red
  • Gold tank stripes

Other than the gearbox, there was no real change for the better in 1973 through to 76. In 1976 we saw the Suzuki factory finally make some significant changes for the better, well overdue and as usual with Suzuki, some bad always accompanies the good.

1975 T500M[edit | edit source]

  • FRAME #: T500-74162
  • ENGINE #: T500-74168
  • ENGINE TYPE: 492cc Two-stroke Twin
  • MODEL CODE: 153
  • COLOR: Coronado Blue
  • Gold pin stripes on tank

1975 was the last model year for the Suzuki T500. It was replaced by the GT500, at a glance the same bike with just a letter G added to the model name. But the GT500 was an improvement on the Titan featuring a bigger tank, electronic ignition and a front disk brake.

In Media[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 2019 Western Power Sports Catalog. Western Power Sports. 2019.