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1968 Suzuki T500 Review

When motorcycle manufacturer Suzuki rolled out the 1968 T500, it was launching one of the most popular models of the 1960s and 1970s. Reviewers called it powerful, comfortable and reliable back then, and today’s classic motorcycle enthusiasts agree. The Suzuki T500, often simply referred to as the Titan, gave owners a lot of motorcycle for the money—about $900 in 1970.

History

In 1963, Suzuki launched a series of motorcycles known as the T series, and manufactured the models until 1977. The 1968 Suzuki T500 was created based on the success of the earlier T20 model. Interestingly, top East German rider and engineer, Ernst Degner, was working for Suzuki and brought knowledge he had gained from working with some of the world’s leading 2-stroke engine designers. The improvement in Suzuki’s 2-stroke singles and twins, including the T series, is a direct reflection of his expertise.

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The T500 was known in the United States and Canada as Cobra for the first year of manufacturing and marketed under the name Titan elsewhere in the world. After a legal issue with Ford Motor Company about the name “Cobra,” the T500 was known as Titan in all markets worldwide until 1976.

Suzuki T500 Features

Among the notable features of the T500 was a top speed of 105mph, a 492cc 2-stroke air-cooled parallel twin engine and a reputation as one of the most reliable motorcycles of the era. Most models used a 5-speed gearbox and all models after 1966 used automatic oil injection rather than premix. Unlike other similar motorcycles from other manufacturers, the T500s were designed to be quiet and user-friendly instead of loud, street-racing machines.

Other notable features of the T500s included:

  • Engine dimensions over-square at 70mm x 64mm
  • Compression ratio, 6.6:1
  • Aluminum alloy sleeved cylinders with iron
  • Pump-fed lubrication to lower end of rods and rear of cylinders
  • Alternator ignition timed by points
  • Dual-downtube steel cradle frame for engine
  • Wire wheels
  • Drum brakes
  • Wide power band in engine

All these factors combined to make the T500 a reliable, economical, lightweight motorcycle that still provided amazing power, a smooth ride, great acceleration and excellent handling. The low maintenance was attractive to many when compared to more troublesome British counterparts, helping to boost sales worldwide. Combining the flashy look of the T500 with power and dependability, it’s no wonder that these motorcycles dominated a decade.

Today’s T500s

As 2-stroke motorcycles dropped in popularity in favor of 4-strokes, Suzuki focused its efforts on the Suzuki GS750 in 1977 and stopped manufacturing the T500s in 1976 to make room for the transition. Today, loyal vintage Japanese motorcycle enthusiasts still enjoy restoring and riding T500s.

Because the motorcycles were so popular in their day, it’s not too difficult to find parts for those interested in restorations. Enthusiasts like the T500s for the classic look, dependability and graceful power—all factors that made it so popular more than 50 years ago.

 

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