A surprise entry at 22th Annual Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts (HoAME) Vintage Motorcycle Rally/Show was this rare 1983 Suzuki RGB500 grand prix race bike, one of only a handful Suzuki made each year. Originally introduced in 1974, these bikes won the world championship seven years in a row from 1976-1982. The street going version of the Suzuki Gamma 500 is rare enough, with only about 10,000 of those made between 1985 and 1987, but this pure racebike is a legitimate unicorn.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles representing the best of British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American manufacturers. Some of the brands on display were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Lambretta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, and more. There was everything from 100% perfect restorations, to well worn bikes daily riders, to full-on customized cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. As part of the museum’s permanent exhibits, there were also vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and, the pride of their collection, a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
Suzuki’s RGB500 grand prix bike has specs that still seam impressive today, delivering over 100hp from not much more than 300lbs, ready to race. The motor was a four cylinder, in a square configuration with counter-rotating crankshafts. The chassis was constructed out of conventional steel tubing, but bent and welded in a modern perimeter frame style. The suspension featured an anti-dive fork of Suzuki’s own design, that they continued to improve and perfect long after others had abandoned the idea. You can read a road test of the RGB500 at Motorcycle Classics.
Of course, Clymer does not have a manual that covers these race factory race bike, but if you have an earlier Suzuki two-stroke street bike, we can help you. The Suzuki triples, from 380-750cc are all covered in the 1972-77 Suzuki GT380, GT550 and GT750 manual, while those and more are condensed and found in our Vintage Collection Series Two Stroke Manual.