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Suzuki T500

Profile – Suzuki T500 Titan

Suzuki T500

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Jan 2021

Low, light and potent

Recent Bring a Trailer sale suggests values might be on the march

It may not sound earth-shattering today, but back in 1968 a low and narrow little five-speed two-stroke 500 weighing just 185kg and with 46-ish horses and a top speed of 185km/h (115mph) was something to be treated with respect. Suddenly you were talking about a machine nudging the performance of Honda's newly-launched CB750-Four, in a far smaller and more nimble package.

In turn, that meant it was perfectly capable of harrassing the likes of Triumph's T150 triples (and the BSA equivalent). Nevertheless it was the four-stroke battle that filled the headlines across the years, while the T500 series soldiered on as a bit of an also-ran.

suzuki road biikes 1971

For a while there, it was the quickest machine in the Suzuki garage – see this link for the 1968 Suzuki line-up, at suzukicycles.org. The 1971 line-up is above. Note the fantastic model names: Stinger, Hustler, Rebel and Titan.

In addition, the T500 helped to cement (in the wake of Yamaha's ground-breaking twins) the place of strokers in the minds of those who wanted something with compelling performance.

Despite that background, we get the feeling the T500s have been treated as something of a poor cousin in the classic market, though that may be changing. A recent sale at Bring a Trailer in the USA, saw a restored 1975 model showing 18,000km (11,000 miles) sell for Au$11,200 (US$8600, GB£6300). That's the blue machine at top and below.

Suzuki t500

Given it was a later model with no special claim to fame, that seemed like solid money, even if it could cost as much as that to restore one.

Suzuki t500

Suzuki t500

Suzuki t500 cobra

The series was initially called the Cobra in 1968 (above), until Suzuki received a threatening letter from Ford disputing the use of the name. It survived in lightly-modified form through to 1975.

Suzuki T500

Suzuki GT500

Suzuki then launched the GT500 version, which is most easily distinguished by the disc front brake. It sold from 1975 through to 1977. By this time it was seriously outgunned in the perormance stakes, claiming 44 horses, and was being marketed more as a value-for-money proposition.

Suzuki T500 model history at suzukicycles.org

Suzuki GT500 history

1968 Suzuki Cobra specs

Post script: the auction mentioned above elicited an extraordinary story from a former owner. See it here.


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