Chris Bradley builds a T500 racer - Chapter 1


Chapter one

It was about August time 1976, I happened to notice a feature on the front cover of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics while scanning the magazine rack in my local supermarket.

The photo showed a rather mint Suzuki T500. I used to own one of these monster two strokes and always regretted selling it. Looking at the cover photo brought back a few memories, and I even considered the idea that it may even had been the very bike I had owned some nine years before. Not pondering over the image too long I continued on my way.

Chris's T500 and wife

I travel with my job and get to visit West Yorkshire about once a month. It is there I meet up with my friend Roger, usually for a meal at the Huddersfield Hotel where I stay over. Roger is a great engineer and can produce just about anything on his lathe, but also specialises in BMW's. Everything from Spline drives to exhaust threads and much more in the specialist (one off stuff).

One night while enjoying a meal together I happened to mention the magazine I saw on the news stand featuring the Suzuki. How I wished I had kept the one I had owned. I once rode it to the Isle of Man on a trip to visit relatives. It's not such a long trip for me really. Just over two hours from where I live in Tyne & Wear. But a great journey anyway.

I remembered also that at the time I had pondered the idea of putting the bike( albeit in superb condition) into a racing livery of the period. I knew that Crooks Suzuki used to race at the Island TT. And a T500 had won a production class one year. Being very ignorant about the racing world I had no idea about how to go about it, and very quickly gave up the thought. All of my enquiries fell on stony ground and in one call to Bran Bardsley I even managed to get myself branded a sexist. I asked a young lady who answered the phone if I could speak to one of the chaps who knew about Suzuki T500's. I will never forget the final words of the chap I spoke to- who said ( before putting the phone down on me) " She knows more about Suzuki T500's than you will ever know" "Goodbye" Obviously referring to the lady who answered the phone. There's a lot to be said about a man who sticks up for woman's liberty.

When I had finished rambling, Roger told me he knew of someone who was selling a Suzuki T500. I really wasn't interested because at the time I could not afford to buy the magazine never mind a bike. Anyway I had just gone completely overboard restoring a Yamaha TY250 trials bike. If the new owner reads this he will know what I mean !

Next day saw me working in the Halifax area where Roger has his workshop. I decided to call in for a brew and say hello to some friends at J.M.S Motorcycles.

While we talked, a motorcycle appeared and came to rest just outside the workshop doors. (Funny how motorcycles just appear!) Roger looks at me and says "T500" nodding towards the rider, now dismounted and heading this way.

Was this fate taking a hand in things ? I wondered.... We soon got onto the topic of T500's and it was confirmed that the said item was for sale. Well it must have been fate because I ended up the proud and surprised owner of a Suzuki T500. Actually what I ended up being the proud owner of was a pile of scrap. Or so I thought.

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