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Cali-Titled Smoker: 1986 Suzuki RG500 for Sale

1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma R Side

Look, I’ll be honest. There are basically two reasons I like writing about Suzuki’s two-stroke sportbikes. One, they’re pretty funky, like this RG500Γ Gamma you see here that sports an engine with a very rare square-four configuration. Two, I get to use the cool Greek “Gamma” character which, along with the umlauted “O” for “Öhlins” are sometimes highlights of my week.

In building a bike meant to evoke their Moto GP weapons, Suzuki knew they needed an appropriate two-stroke powerplant, as that was the formula in fashion for top-level racing during the 1980’s. The 500cc engine that resulted was an unusual, water-cooled square four that was basically two parallel twins geared to a common crank. At under 400lbs dry with 100bhp and a capable chassis, it was the S1000RR or Panigale of the day and was capable of humbling just about anything on the road.

1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1986 Suzuki RG500 for Sale

Brand New Paint, 19,717 KM, Lots of modifications. Big bore kit (570cc), aftermarket expansion chambers, carbs. bored oversize, performance air filter kits, GSX-R upside down forks and 6 piston calipers, RGV 250 rear swing arm conversion. California Registered

This particular Gamma is obviously enthusiast-owned and in good, although not completely original condition. The bike has been ridden 19,000 miles, so it’s no garage-queen and those modifications are clearly intended to improve performance and take advantage of modern-ish suspension and tire technology to better harness that wild powerplant.

I happen to love the look of the updated suspension and wheels, although the missing front mudguard does irk me a bit. However many Gamma fans are purists, and a bike like this may have them apoplectic with rage at the violations. Depending on where the reserve is set, this could be a great buy for someone looking for the experience of a big two-stroke, without some of the limitations found in an older machine.

-tad

1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma L Side

20 Comments

  • So, this is one of the bikes on my bucket list, but they’re rarer than chicken lips in the north-east part of the U.S. (Boston area).
    And thanks for using the word “umlaut”.
    As a verb, no less!

  • these are the best of the smokers… even with the stock suspension they rule… i had a skoal bandit and it could hammer any 600 and most 750 or 1000 lumps into a speck in the mirrors, if you could get your body out of the way… we called them make up mirrors, you could see your self but not much behind you… flush mounted turn signals and some racy chambers and a vented air box, lance liked the individual sock type air cleaners but i preferred the stock box with some holes… wheel size was problematic but 17s fit and not too wide… wide caused weird cornering fits… semi narrow italian tires gave the proper slide factor and every now and then the odd wheelie while leaned way over… entertaining… this updated model looks the business and is totally what the doctor ordered, dr vale… buy it and ride it ane throw away the mirrors… everyone will be behind you…

    • mikebike August 02, 2015 10:43:55 am
      these are the best of the smokers… even with the stock suspension they rule… i had a skoal bandit and it could hammer any 600 and most 750 or 1000 lumps into a speck in the mirrors,

      This site can be a valuable resource for motorcycle enthusiasts,but I won’t sit back and see people post absolute bullshit,and see the credibility of RARESPORTBIKESFORSALE.COM diminished with childish,irresposible comments like the one above.Anyone who has GENUINELY owned one of these bikes knows that comment is complete garbage.

  • the mileage is 12,224 miles, 19,717 kilometers…

  • While I prefer originality in a collectible Gamma, I can appreciate a professionally modified and updated version. This thing falls into neither category, and looks quite scary. That missing front fender, while a minor detail, is a clear red flag to me and a “tell” to the care given in general to the modifications. The lack of written description details, the lack of pictures showing what lurks underneath the bodywork, the lack of documentation provided for engine and chassis changes does not inspire any confidence.

    Think about it- what are the realistic chances that the extensive changes and modifications done to the engine and chassis were done correctly and safely, were researched and checked first, and are appropriate? What are the chances that this Gamma’s internal engine changes and choices made, assembly, and even just jetting are correct? Is the steering geometry and handling safe, or were the GSXR front end parts and that swing arm somehow adapted because they were readily available, looked cool, and were cheap? What are the chances that this thing is sorted out and needs no major time and money to be safe and rideable?

    About zero, my friends- and that would be my interest in investing my money or time into this sorry example.

  • rgv 250 swing arms are neither cheap nor readily available…

    • OK, I’ll give you that. But you get my point, yes?

    • Road Rash: your point is well taken. The same seller has posted up a number of similarly under-described two-strokes recently, including an RZV500 that was also heavily modified. All of his bikes look very clean and I SUSPECT that the answer to you question is that they HAVE been carefully built. But there’s no way to know from his listings and, when selling something like this, it’s normal to have questions about the build and want to see some additional pics…

  • lizard brain, please get help, there are numerous programs for self centered idiots to find some relief… i’ve owned and ridden two gammas… one stock and tuned very well… it easily got by the crap overweight four strokes… your opinions are keyboard bullshit… my bandit was heavily modded with serious engine work and a very well set up suspension… very light wheels and brembo brakes… and i’ve been a rider since 1961 starting with an english built triumph road racer… so buzz off fool…

    and road rash, what do you use for evidence? your opinion is worthless without having examined the bike or knowing the builder…
    so keep your money and your misguided advise for the punters…
    at least get in the room with the bike or at least communicate with the owner before spouting off…

    • ^..as above….TOUCHE.

  • thread getting tl;dr, post less words

  • @Road Rash, I’m of the same school of thought. The embarrassingly short description is not on par for the caliber of the bike; my first thought was “really!!?” It seems to be the sellers trait tho so, they may be of the school of thought that if someone is legitimately interested than they’ll inquire further.. .. I suspect clearence is the issue w the front fender.. Tho; nothing is a bigger turn off on a otherwise attractive sport bike than a absent front fender..

    • @Corey: it’s a lot more than the missing front fender (and the empty front turn signal holes in the fairing, the lack of mirrors, the missing rear signals, missing bar ends, oh and the missing upper fairing mounting bracket). That’s just the street stuff that we can easily see, and it shows the lack of care, the poor quality of workmanship and presentation.

      Notice the distance between the front wheel and lower fairing- what’s the clearance at full compression? Does it touch hard? Look at the rear ride height due to the changed swingarm. It all makes me ask: what research and calculations were made before bolting on everything? What is the rake and trail of the new front end? The new wheelbase? How do the new wheel widths affect handling? How does it handle- is it safe to ride? And that’s not even getting into the engine mods.

      But hey, it’s the interwebs after all, lol. I could state the obvious about this bike, or I could state that the planet is round and that we’re all human beings, and I’d get an argument. Fine. I challenge mikebike or shad to put their money up and buy this thing as shown, and get back to us after they’ve run it, ridden it, or looked underneath the fairings.

      I’d love to hear Rick Lance to chime in on this thing.

  • the front wheel/lower fairing clearance isn’t obviously interfering at compression… and how do you judge the fit from these photos?
    i really like gammas but the MV Agusta is the best toy these days… anyway the auction ended at $10,000. or so, someone will have fun…
    lizard boy, get help… TOUCHE? really?

  • The motor is not really a square four like the GP bikes. It’s a stacked twin with the rear cylinders slightly higher than the fronts. The front cyl have their own crank and the rears have their own crank that are geared together. Kinda not like Tads description. And yea it’s got WAY to much rear ride height.

  • regardless of all this chatter, 10 k is a fair price grats to the seller and buyer

  • The auction ended at $10.3, but the reserve was never met so it’s not like the thing was sold. I just emailed him asking what the reserve was.

  • too high apparently. bet he relists it with the same reserve, you know what they say about the definition of insanity…

  • prices are whatever the market will bear, and the bears aren’t buying… too many owners see the prices neat bikes bring and think
    that with x dollars their bike is on the same plateau… figuring the time invested and the knowledge needed to acquire the parts while having the ability to perform the work isn’t everyone’s favorite reality… this gamma will sell to someone and they will get a good deal when they figure it out… cheers…

  • The guy was unwise to leave $10k on the table with a high reserve. For his sake I hope he gets another chance to pass this bike on for five figures.

    By request, my overview of the bike as shown:

    The entire front fairing is hanging by the merest of threads. No mirror brackets, no “Z” brackets from the frame and probably no fairing lower brackets. Several posters picked up on issues such as wheel / fender clearance due to the misplaced fairing. The body kit is China ABS (note the use of nuts rather than captured riv-nuts inside the fairing along with missing belly pan mounting screws for the belly pan hangers) including a tank cover made of plastic. The solo cowl is aftermarket Air-Tech and is not drilled for the butt pad (shown just sitting there). The bike is a Canada model which never came in the late model CH colors. The GSXR front end is incompatible with stock fairing mounts and deletes the cable drive speedo which is now not connected to anything. The RGV swingarm may be rare, but in my opinion not rare enough and should never be used on a Gamma chassis. The wheelbase with this setup is in excess of 58″. The ride height was determined by the new shock mounts on the modded swingarm and will not be easy to correct as it is excessive. The fuel lines are routed over the rear pipes, causing both a fire hazard and a pinched fuel line. The wiring harness is routed incorrectly outside the frame. There’s a hole drilled in the frame for a steering damper mount. The pipes are Nikon (a copy of the stock system). The rear pipe mounting bolt on the left lower pipe is missing. The RGV rear wheel has a cush drive expecting half the torque of a 500 and is unsafe to run (sprocket hubs have been known to break). The “570 kit” mentioned means that the cylinders (unobtainable) are now out of bore options. Big bore Gamma motors done right are quite complex involving head machining, cylinder porting, etc and not easily fixed when poorly executed. I hope the carb bore was done properly (offset and not concentric) since replacements are scarce. Whoever becomes the new owner should not plan on riding this bike anytime soon without a more serious effort being made to make it work.

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