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Stunning Gamma: 1988 Suzuki RG500Γ MK14 Race Bike for Sale

1988 Suzuki RG500 R Side

The road-going two-stroke fours from Suzuki and Yamaha normally tend to look a little awkward to my eye. The wheels and tires look too skinny, the brakes too small, the fairing bulbous and a little ungraceful. That all goes out the window with this 1988 Suzuki RG500Γ race bike, which seems better balanced all-around, and does away with pointless frippery like headlights, turn-signals, and rear-view mirrors…

1988 Suzuki RG500 L Tank

Motivated by a liquid-cooled square-four engine that was basically made up of a pair of parallel-twins geared together, the Suzuki was far more raw than the competing RZ500 from Yamaha. Many two-strokes of the period featured complicated technology designed to make them more practical for road use. While the RG500 had some of those as well, it seemed to revel in the very qualities that attract two-stroke fans, instead of masking them: light weight, narrow powerbands, and a generally unruly, experts-only handling.

1988 Suzuki RG500 Fairing

Power hovered right around 100hp for the road bike and, for a bike of the period that weighed under 400lbs, this represented state-of-the-art motorcycle performance. Even today, these are some of the most highly sought-after bikes of the 1980s and, although they don’t offer cutting-edge power compared to modern machines, the level of involvement required to ride one quickly and the highly-strung, chainsaw-maniac shriek of the engine mean plenty of entertainment, all wreathed in heavy two-stroke smoke that drips from the four stingers.

1988 Suzuki RG500 Dry Clutch

This example is a pure racing machine that obviously doesn’t even share a frame with the roadgoing model, and competed in the late 1980s in the UK, as described by the seller.

From the original eBay listing: 1988 Suzuki RG500 Race Bike for Sale

Suzuki RG500 MK14 – 1988 British F1 Winning bike. Model year 1988 VIN RGB500-10511

For the 1985 season Suzuki adopted a new approach in respect to their hugely successful RG500 partly in response to changes being seen in domestic racing. National championships were moving towards production based, four stroke formulas resulting in less demand for over the counter Grand Prix 500’s. Suzuki opted to stop producing complete RG500’s, instead supplying Padgett’s of Batley with up rated, magnesium cased, stepped RG500 engines and their associated power valves and expansion chambers. Padgett’s would then supply complete machines using a steel frame built by Harris Performance and based on the Suzuki Mk VII/VIII frame. A total of twelve engines were supplied to the Yorkshire based company with machines being built between 1985 and 1988. The machine offered is number 11 of the 12 and was ridden by Darren Dixon, a Padgett’s sponsored rider to victory in the 1988 British F1 Championship. It was subsequently sold to Brian Burgess in November 1988 for his son, John, to ride in the British Superbike Championship which, at that time still allowed machines such as the RG500 to compete. The ACU eventually banned two strokes form the British Superbike Championship at the start of the 1990’s. The owners continued to run the RG500 in National and club events until 1996. Roger Keen prepared the engine during the period that the motorcycle was racing and recently the engine has been stripped and rebuilt with new parts by Phil Lovet. The machine was recently returned to the livery that it wore when being raced by Darren Dixon in 1988 with the paintwork being applied by Padgett’s. It is in good condition in all respects following its restoration. This significant machine is offered with a letter from Clive Padgett confirming that it was Darren Dixon’s Championship winning RG500 and that Padgett’s sold the motorcycle to Mr Burgess in November 1988 together with a letter from Mr Burgess outlining the machines history during his ownership and a DVD showing Darren Dixon winning three races.

1988 Suzuki RG500 Rear Wheel

The seller indicates that the bike is currently in the UK but, given the bike’s rarity and the fact that it’s a pure racing bike, I don’t think that will be any sort of issues for buyers here in the USA or anywhere else, for that matter. I honestly don’t know enough about RG500 race bikes to vouch for this bike’s authenticity, so I’m happy to defer to the experts in the comments section on this one. Real, or not, it’s a stunning bike, with just enough wear to suggest that it actually gets used from time to time. Bidding is active, but currently sits just north of $10,000 which is well short of where I expect it to end up.

-tad

1988 Suzuki RG500 L Side

17 Comments

  • Beautiful bike!

  • Can I get a “HELL YEAH!”…

  • I have no specific knowledge on magnesium cases for this machine, but I know on earlier machines the strength and stability of old magnesium may be an issue. Obviously, it’s not going to be raced in anger, but shattering a case in a vintage race or on a hot parade lap might impact the ‘bulletproof’ quality of the investment.

    That said, I would love to give it a go. The Padgett’s scheme and the bike in general are indeed stunning!

  • Unfortunately there is about a 1% chance this thing ever gets ridden again. It will end up sitting on a shelf the rest of its life in a private collection or museum. Sad really…

  • Your mystifying reference to the road going RG500 and RZ500 in your introduction to this pure race version is so far off the mark,it could have only be written by someone from a country who never received these machines back in the day and who has never ridden an OEM version as a daily driver.
    I had owned both these models,new,back in the eighties.I see so much crap written about the performance of these bikes that it has now become boring.Youtube clips have further distorted the facts of their performance.I only wish I could have had a GoPro back in 1986 so I could post on YouTube,the REAL performance of my RG500 getting blown away by an ’85-86 GSX-R750 Slab-side. THAT IS THE FACT OF IT. Ride one of those old slabbies now and they feel dog slow,but back in the day,my RG500 could not stay with one.
    Take off the rose coloured glasses,talk to people who actually owned them back in the day,and stop perpetuating bullsh*t about the performance of the OEM 500’s.

    • I think you must have read some other article, since I’m pretty sure my post doesn’t make any claims about the bike’s outright performance compared to… well, anything, actually. But preach on, brother! Preach!

  • Mission Control ,

    So much rage built up in You ! Relax . Tad is doing his best to bring us the latest drool-worthy bikes for sale . Let him do his job . No need for such harsh criticism ! See below an excerp from Tads’ post :
    ” I honestly don’t know enough about RG500 race bikes to vouch for this bike’s authenticity, so I’m happy to defer to the experts in the comments section on this one.” And don’t fault him that the US didn’t import that many exotic two-strokes into the country . That is the fault of the beaurocrats ! Now everybody go have a nice cold drink and come back with a fresh attitude , myself included ! 🙂

  • A lot of residual anger from a former owner of a poorly tuned rg500. That flogging by the slab side really left a deep scar. May I suggest you cantact Rick Lance for some therapy.

  • I would take a dog eared rzv 500 over ANY 80’s diesel any day

  • Mission control, I echo your sentiment but maybe best to target somewhere other than debatably the fastest road going 2-stroke produced or make a blanket statement for ALL classic bikes. Most everything on this site falls into that category, RC30? OW01? List continues. Most of the extremely rare bikes were great for their time but not very impressive today. Try riding a Kawasaki H1 today. It is boring. The ‘Widowmaker’ moniker was a lie. a Ninja 250 is faster than a huge number of the classic bikes and likely as fast as the FZR400 posted today.

    Also begs the question why you would think a ‘GP-inspired’ bike would be a good idea for a daily rider….You seem like an angry fellow, maybe lay off Tad who is just here to bring us the goods?

  • A Ninja 250 is nowhere near as fast as an FZR 400, not even in the same ball park. And yes, Iv’e owned and raced both and wouldn’t enter my Ninjette in a 450 superbike or even 450 “proddy” class for that matter it would be pointless…

  • Bikes like this is why I visit this website.

    Please post more REAL race bikes.

    I am tired of geeks arguing over period-correct turn signals and bodywork.

  • I have raced – rz 350, tz 250, and have done a track day on a tz500. Nothing beats the feel of two stroke power!
    I have also raced gsxrs and presently a new R1. The bikes are obviously way better but can you imagine what a modern 2 stroke would be like with modern geometry and electronics??!!
    The fact is a 2 strokes make more power with less cc s and less parts.
    I pray often for a 2 stroke revival

  • Its a sweet bike. 13 people wanted it. Sold for 40k,

  • Hi there,

    I’m the seller of the bike. It is an amazing rare machine with a very interesting history.
    It was not sold, price is 52k usd.

    Thanks to all.
    Gianluca

  • A 2 stroke can (and does) make twice the power with the equal displacement of a diesel, or maybe someone would like to enter a GB 500, or GPZ 550, or FZR 600, or Ninja 600 in a mid 80’s 500 GP race?

  • Ahem, didn’t think so… Next 2 stroke please…

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