The Underestimated Suzuki Titan

Long and low, the 2-stroke Suzuki Titan was built for putting on the miles.

Suzuki Titan

Long and low, the Titan is still a solid and reliable road bike, capable of piling on the miles.

Photo By Phillip Tooth

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1975 Suzuki T500 II Titan
Claimed power: 46hp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 110mph (period review)
Weight (wet): 435lb (198kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.7gal (14ltr)/45-50mpg
Price then/now: $1,175/$1,200-$3,000 

Doug Strange turned into the diner’s parking lot with a huge grin on his face, caressed the metallic blue gas tank as if it was the body of a favorite girlfriend and said: “I haven’t ridden a Titan for at least 10 years, but it feels just as I remember it.

“The engine pulls like a diesel locomotive and the handling is rock-steady. It might not be the most exciting 2-stroke in the world and they have zero sex appeal, but Suzuki’s 500cc twin is probably the most underestimated motorcycle ever built,” Doug says with conviction. As a teenager, Doug learned to ride on a 50cc Suzuki Titan before progressing to a T200. When the time came to trade up, the local motorcycle dealer tried to sell him a Velocette Thruxton, but as a hard-core Suzuki fan he couldn’t be tempted by a British single. He was looking at a new T350 Rebel. Then a friend took him for a ride on the back of his T500.

“I didn’t know enough to be scared while he ran his Titan through the gears, but I was captivated by the howl of the big 2-stroke,” Doug remembers. “My decision was made and I promptly bought a new 1969 T500 II in Colorado Gold.”

The Suzuki T500 Titan’s beginnings

Launched on the American market in late 1967 as the 500/FIVE — a reference to the 5-speed transmission, a first in the 500cc class — the big Suzuki had to fight the myth that a large capacity air-cooled 2-stroke twin was doomed to run hot and seize because of the enormous heat generated. As there was a power stroke every time the piston came around, there would not be enough time — so it was thought — for the engine to cool off as it did in a 4-stroke. But Suzuki blew that theory to pieces with a 46 horsepower, 110mph twin that blasted down the quarter-mile drag strip in 13.2 seconds and still ran as cool as an ice-cold Pepsi.

Order the March/April 2013 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the 1975 Suzuki T500 II Titan. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.