If you’ve just got this issue of CMM you’ll still have time to head to the Birmingham NEC for Motorcycle LIVE! And if you do, pop along to Suzuki’s stand in Hall 2. There you will see this very G-54 being rebuilt. The bike was the precursor to the XR14 and RG500 machines that went on to take Suzuki and Barry Sheene to world championship glory.
The G-54 concept was born in May 1973, five years after Suzuki withdrew from Grand Prix racing following regulation changes by the F.I.M. But, after competing in the smaller 50cc, 125cc, and 250cc classes, Suzuki had decided to make a return, this time in the premier 500cc class.
The bike – where G denoted Grand Prix use only and 54, strangely, stood for 1974 – was designed and built under the stewardship of Makoto Hase and Makoto Suzuki, who had previously been tasked with converting the GT250, GT500, and GT750 machines into the TR250, TR500, and TR750 race bikes. The project pulled in staff that worked on the two and three cylinder 50cc machines, the twin and V4 125cc machines, plus the square-four 250cc machine.
Barry Sheene got his first taste of the machine in November 1973, but to help keep the weight down the G-54 employed an open cradle chassis with no lower chassis rails beneath the engine. However, despite finishing second in its first ever Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand in April with Sheene aboard, by June the chassis had been replaced with a conventional double cradle design. It was raced by Sheene, Paul Smart, and Jack Findlay that year.
The bike will be rebuilt over the first weekend of the show before being stripped and rebuilt again over the final weekend ready for a second start up on Sunday, November 25. The restoration will be carried out by former Grand Prix technician Nigel Everett. Everett worked in Grand Prix racing from the early 70s through to 1988, when he setup Racing Restorations.