Brian Dawson’s – T500 Suzuki

Brian wrote on 8 Nov 2001 –

Attached is a pic of my 1974/75 T500L/M. I came across this bike while I was working in a BMW motorcycle shop. A customer came in one day and wanted to buy a set of vintage BMW saddlebags (or panniers as they are also known) but didn’t have any money. He offered “an old Suzuki” that he had in the back of a van. I took a look and the bike was a T500 in horrifying condition. But I decided to give him the saddlebags in exchange for the bike and pay the shop for the bags later.

Taking a hard look at what I’d purchased, I was not encouraged. The poor old thing was filthy and covered in oil but it was mostly complete and the exhaust pipes were undamaged. Cleaning it off I found that the bike was actually fairly well preserved under the film of oil. But, the previous owner, apparently having the IQ of a potato, had tried to install a Suzuki electronic ignition on a points-and-condenser engine.

He did not know that the nose of the older crankshaft and the nose of the later e-ignition crankshaft are quite different. In his attempt to make things work he had actually punched a hole through the engine cases and had then plugged the hole with silicon seal! How he expected that to work I don’t know.

I searched around for a while and found another two bikes – both of them incomplete and damaged but with useful parts. I bought them cheap. I also came across a guy selling a T500 half-converted to a racing bike with no less than five spare engines! I bought everything.

I assembled a 1975 T500M electronic engine out of all the bits and installed that in place of the original, and butchered, 1974 T500L engine. And that is why I list the bike as both a 1974 and a 1975 and a T500L and T500M!

All the bodywork is original with original paint and original chrome except for some of the fasteners which were rusted. The side cover [not shown in the pic] was also badly damaged and I have purchased a new one but it is not painted as yet. Since the pic was taken I ran across a chrome handrail and installed it on the bike. The total cost of this bike as it sits, with all the spares including the half-done racebike conversion, is less than $1000.

BTW, the racebike has been torn apart and is being rebuilt as we speak. The engine, with crankcase stuffers is done, the frame is welded up and the bodywork has been built and is being painted. I’ll need to find some Akront rims and buy spokes, get some tires and assemble the whole thing. I’ve been taking pics as I go so when it’s done I’ll pass them along.

In addition to this T500 and the coming T500 racebike I own a TR250 replica racebike, an under-restoration T250 street bike and an unrestored and not-yet-running T350 which is extremely rare here (Canada).

dawson.jpg (40747 bytes)



Author: muzza