Suzuki T500

Best bets on tomorrow's classics

  • Originally marketed as the Cobra, the first T500s garnered more fame for their extreme thirst for fuel than for their obvious merits: clean lines, good handling and, unlike most two-strokes, a smooth (at least at low rpms) low-revving engine.

Years produced: 1968-1975
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 46hp @ 6,000rpm (1975)
Top speed: 105mph
Engine type: 492cc, air-cooled two stroke parallel twin
Weight (dry): 187kg (412lb)
MPG: 30-40
Price then: N/A
Price now: $500-$1,750

Cobras are quick, venomous snakes, renowned for striking fast and for striking fear in the heart of anyone unlucky enough to cross their path. In Greek mythology, the Titans were the children of Uranus and Gaea, supreme rulers of the universe until Zeus came along and took over.

We’re not quite sure what Suzuki was reaching for when they pulled the Cobra and, subsequently, Titan names into their lineup, but if they were aiming for a lethal strike at the competition or market supremacy, they fell short of the mark.

Largely overlooked today, the T500 was a unique proposition when Suzuki rolled it out to an increasingly power-hungry market in 1968. Granted, 46hp wasn’t exactly mind-bending, but as the largest production two-stroke twin since pre-war England’s water-cooled Scott, the T500 defied conventional wisdom by pursuing a different direction in motorcycle development.

In 1968, everyone knew the only good parallel twins came out of England. And four-stroke engines powered all of these. Two-strokes, the conventional thinking went, were noisy, smelly and high-strung.

With its big-bore T500, Suzuki meant to change all that.

7/10/2018 4:37:12 AM

I had one a t500m in blue, one year and 40000kms two major single vehicle accidents hey I was only 19, the thing was amazing, once ran a tank of fuel out in 125ks, top speed on a private road) 175kph indicated. It had two hinges in the frame, one where the swing arm mounted and one at the headstock the frame was elastic! Traded it in on a GS 750 and never looked back. BUT if I found one in reasonably original condition would I buy it s333t yeah!

Geoffrey Hill
11/16/2010 1:43:06 PM

The T500 was also made in 1976. It was called the Gt 500. The only difference was a front disc. brake and changed color. I think the tank might also have had a slight change to it but not sure. Sure miss my '75.

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