1981 Suzuki RG500 Restored Twice

Follow the restoration life of a racing 1981 Suzuki RG500 bike.

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by Jerry Smith

In October 1973 I uncrated a brand new 1974 Yamaha TZ250 production road racer and loaded it into my pickup for the drive home.

rg500 cockpit

By the following weekend at least four major stock components — including the front end, brakes, and rear suspension — and a number of minor ones had been swapped out for upgraded parts. I raced it for a few years, making more changes along the way, then sold it. Now, many years later, I find myself wondering this: If I somehow found the bike, how hard would it be to restore it to its original condition, with factory parts in place of the ones I added? Based on the experiences of two top-notch bike restorers, both of whom worked on the same 1981 Suzuki RG500 you see here at different times, it wouldn’t be easy.

Restoration No. 1

The first restorer was Bob Allen, who started racing in 1954 and competed in road racing, motocross, trials, and even sidecars before retiring. “I restore bikes because I can no longer race,” he said when I spoke with him several years ago. “It’s a passion for me to find and secure these old race bikes for posterity. Well, a passion and a savings plan. I don’t especially do them for customers. I work on them at my own pace at home.”

  • Updated on Oct 1, 2021
  • Originally Published on Sep 27, 2021
Tagged with: Bob Allen, Daytona 200, motocross, restoration, Uri Bergbaum
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