Despite Suzuki’s recent proposal to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of this 2022 season, the truth is that the Japanese factory is steeped in top-class world championship road racing, and always will be. Even before the legendary era of Kevin Schwantz in the early 1990s, Suzuki in fact reached the pinnacle of the blue-ribbon 500cc class world championship in the mid-1970s. two-stroke engines. The roar of a two-stroke engine and the smell of burning Castrol R oil is incredibly evocative to anyone who witnessed racing from that era.
The power produced by these simple machines was extraordinary, and relatively simply obtained. Because of this relative simplicity, the motorcycles were also very light. Due to the radical tuning needed to win, the powerbands of these engines were very narrow and very high in the rev range. So, race bikes from the mid-’70s through the start in 2002 of the current four-stroke MotoGP era had light-switch-like on-off power deliveries. There were no electronic aids, so the bikes were extremely difficult to ride fast. Suffice it to say there were a lot of upsides.
Barry Sheene was a true Suzuki legend. Born in central London in 1950, Barry’s father, Frank, was a racing bike tuner. When Barry tried his hand at running, he turned out to be a natural. He has become a household name in England. If you were pulled over for speeding back then on a motorcycle, the cop was more than likely to ask, “Who do you think you are then?” Barry Sheene? An infamous 178 mph takeoff off Daytona’s High Rim in 1975 nearly killed Sheene. Yet despite career-threatening injuries, he was back at Cadwell Park some six weeks later.
The following year, Suzuki came up with a truly radical concept that ended Yamaha’s inline-four dominance in the 500 class – the Suzuki RG500 square-four. The all-new Suzuki had incredible power with a nice handling delivery. He also performed very well and, in the hands of Sheene, he escaped with the world championship.
Not satisfied with complete dominance, Sheene followed suit in 1977 with the same result. Unfortunately, for Suzuki fans, 1978 saw the appearance of Kenny Roberts on the 500cc world championship scene for Yamaha. Indeed, King Kenny won the next three titles on a Yamaha YZR500, not without serious fights with Sheene on his Suzuki RG500.
Sheene’s career finally came to an end in 1984 and he died of throat cancer in 2003 at the too young age of 52. Nevertheless, the legend of Barry Sheene and the Suzuki RG500 lives on.
To its credit, Suzuki has restored many of the Sheene-era RG500s to running condition through Suzuki’s vintage parts program. The race bikes will be on display at the 2022 Suzuki Live event, which takes place on June 10 at Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire, England, 125 miles north of London near the North Sea coast. Barry Sheene’s son, Freddie, and Suzuki racing legend, Stuart Graham will lead the Barry Sheene tribute laps on the five iconic Grand Prix Sheene race bikes at Suzuki Live 2022. It’s not all 500 The Suzuki RT67 raced in the 125cc World Championship by Stuart Graham in 1967, before being bought by Sheene in 1970 and raced in the Grand Prix in 1971, will also race.
Freddie Sheene will ride the last Suzuki Grand Prix bike ridden by his father, the famous 1984 XR45 delivered by DAF Trucks. The parade will be completed by the 1976 and 1977 World Championship-winning Heron Suzuki RG500s, as well as a big-bore RG500 that Sheene has raced in the Transatlantic Trophy series each year.If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Cadwell Park on June 10th during the Suzuki Live 2022 event, not only will you be able to witness the aforementioned spectacular parade lap, but you will also be able to participate in track sessions for motorcycles of all the ages, test drive new Suzuki models, chat with special guests and check out classic bike exhibits.Special celebrity guests will include three-time British Superbike Champion John Reynolds and Sylvain Guintoli, who has World Superbike and World Endurance Championship titles to his credit, as well as being a Suzuki MotoGP test rider. . Danny Webb will be on the RG500 he campaigned at the Classic TT for Team Classic Suzuki in the Isle of Man. Suzuki’s new third-generation GSX-S1000GT, GSX-S1000 and Hayabusa will be available for a day test drive on the glorious roads surrounding Cadwell Park. You will need a valid license and a DVLA verification code or national insurance number to ride. , and Team Classic endurance racer Suzuki Katana.There are 111 places available for the track day, priced at £135 per person. There will be three levels of track group based on experience and equipment. Admission is free for those wishing to catch the action and parades, or take a test ride. Unfortunately, Ultimate motorcycling won’t be attending this cool event, but we wish we could be there!