Click here for an CycleVIN Motorcycle History Report on this 1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma. Additional photos are available here for your perusal.
Derived straight from Suzuki’s half-liter RG Gamma XR45 factory Grand Prix racer, the RG500 was a road-legal replica racer produced between 1985 and 1987. From the mid-‘70s to the mid-‘80s, Suzuki was a dominant force in premier class competition. Barry Sheene achieved back-to-back 500cc championship titles in ’76 and ’77 before the Gallina Suzuki team repeated the feat half-a-decade-later with riders Marco Lucchinelli and Franco Uncini in ’81 and ’82. Suzuki also won seven consecutive 500cc Class Constructors’ titles around this same time.
To capitalize on the brand’s reputation for building high-performance race bikes, Suzuki decided to develop a slightly-tamed production version of its competition square-four machine. The production model’s engine was based on the XR45’s race-bred 130 hp unit. The 498cc, rotary valve, twin-crank, two-stroke, square-four featured Mikuni 28mm flat-side carbs, an exhaust utilizing SAEC (Suzuki Automatic Exhaust Control), a six-speed cassette-style gearbox, and thermostatically controlled liquid-cooling. Elements such as the barrels and crankcases on the RG500 were virtually identical to those on the XR45, though a few changes were obviously made for the sake of the road-going model’s longevity.
The race-derived motor put down as much as 95 hp at 9,500 rpm and 53 ft-lbs of torque at 8,000 rpm. Weighing in at just 340 lbs dry, the RG offered a top speed of over 130 mph and could fire off quarter-mile runs in 11-seconds flat. The Suzuki’s 16-inch front-wheel held a set of twin 260mm discs and quad-piston calipers while the 17-inch rear hoop sported a single 210 mm disc with a dual-pot caliper.
Like the powertrain, the RG500’s frame was also borrowed straight off the race bike; a lightweight box-section aluminum alloy perimeter frame with a cast steering head that funneled air toward the carbs. Tacked onto the front was a set of 38mm forks with preload adjustment and Suzuki’s “POSI DAMP” anti-dive system, while out back the square-section double-sided alloy swing-arm was hooked up to a full-floating monoshock.
Classic Motorbikes described the Gamma’s place among its competitors by stating, “Place the RD500, NS400 and RG500 Gamma side-by-side and you would have three of the top manufacturers attempts at producing a replica of their respective GP racers, however, with all but one of those machines, all you purchased was a mere shadow of the original design. That is not to say the others were rubbish, far from it in fact, but the RG was definitely nearer the mark, and actually far closer to the race machine than you might ever imagine. The Suzuki is almost an exact replica of the race machine.”
For the 1986 model year, just 1,412 units were built. Due to emissions regulations (among other reasons), Suzuki never officially sold the RG500 Gamma in America, though it was offered in Canada so a few grey market examples have found their way across the border…such as this one (VIN: JS1HM31A0G2100883, Engine #: M301-105970), which was originally built in March of 1986 and imported to the US through Manitoba, Canada and then titled in Wisconsin in 2007.
There were 99 Walter Wolf models imported to Canada, and this is the very first one! Here’s a list of RG500 VINs for verification.