Classic Motorcycle Mechanics issue 198
We the enthusiasts of classic motorcycles think of our bikes as having a soul and occasionally they have an interesting history. I believe that I have such a bike in Perth Western Australia, I have had this 1972 Suzuki T500J for more than 6 years now and have no intensions of ever selling it, and from the many receipts I have it would indicate it has spent most of it’s 41 years in the Portsmouth/Southampton area of Hampshire UK.
This is how I came into possession of the Titan as In early 2006 when I was on the internet looking at back issues of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics I came across an article called Classic Chums it was about GT750’s Kettles as I knew them or Water Bottles as they are known in Australia, the article was also about a group of lads who grew up in Portsmouth in the 70’s and after many years they had reunited. Well I did not believe my eye’s when I saw the name Gary Cobb as I also knew him because I was also brought up in Portsmouth in the 70’s. I immediately ordered the back issue 198 of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics and waited patiently for it’s arrival so I could read the full story, I then sent a letter to the then Editor of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics the late Rod Gibson RIP and asked him for his assistance in contacting my old mate Gary which he not only did but also wrote an email back to me which I found most profound which showed what a sincere person that he truly was.
A few weeks went pass and then I received an email from Gary, life had not always been kind to him over the years but the few things that were constant in his life were is love of 70’s two strokes mainly in the form of his GT750M and his Wife and not forgetting Ozzy Osborne of Black Sabbath, Christmas 2006 I was visiting the UK so I was very keen to see Gary and those GT750 Kettles as I had not seen any for such a long time, but tucked away in the back of his lock up was a dismantled Suzuki T500J which Gary did not waste any time in saying “do you want to buy her mate”
Gary had bought the T500J some 3 years before from A @ A Motorcycles in Southampton as he could see the potential the bike had for a restoration especially as it still had matching numbers for the frame and engine and even it’s original ignition key, Gary paid 300 Quid for the bike and then rode her back down the M27 to Portsmouth on a sunny September day belching out loads of smoke as the Titan was well in need of a rebuild, once he was back at his lock up he parked her up and some time later did a full strip down with the intension to eventually rebuilding it for his wife but as she had just given birth to their daughter that ruled out riding motorcycles for her for some time.
I obviously did not hesitate in taking him up on his offer and he had already bought some NOS parts plus had the engine casings polished and Gary assured me the bike would make a good restoration and his word was good enough for me. It was not long before the T500J was in a van that I hired and on it’s way to my Daughters in North London, I converted her Greenhouse into a make shift workshop to clean and carefully pack away all the dismantled parts into containers ready to be shipped back to Australia as general cargo in July 2007, and 4 months later the T500J arrived at my home in Perth Western Australia and I immediately started a nine month restoration of the Titan, Gary had already got 2 replacement standard bore cylinders with a spare engine as the Titan was already at 2nd oversized and well worn so I had the standard cylinders re bored and a mild tune done to the ports plus a set of 1st oversize pistons all supplied and machined by Stan Stevens in the UK before shipping, the crankshaft was in excellent condition because I could see by the receipts that it had been rebuilt in 1999 by Crooks Suzuki which would have only been 4 years before Gary stripped the bike and as the T500 crankshafts are a very strong design I decided to take a chance, the gearbox bearings and oil seals were replaced and I measured the clutch plates which were well within their wear limit so they were reused, there was not a day I did not work on the bike with some days more frustrating than others, the only part of the initial restoration that I did not undertake was the frame which I had powder coated, and due to lack of funds towards the end of the restoration I opted to spray the tank and side panels myself, the correct colour should have been Pearl Orange #264 and Pure White #064 but I was unable to access the Pearl Orange so as a substitute I used a Candy Orange over Silver base which I was more than happy with for a couple of years.
In 2010 I had the tank and side panels sprayed in the correct colours this was done by Vitech Refinishing in Perth, and later that year Gary emailed me after he had visited the Stafford motorcycle show with news that one of our old mates from Pompey Rob Evans had just won Best Bike Award in the Show with his cracking Kawasaki A7 and that he had met some interesting guys from Titan Performance who were showing some very nice T500 Café Racers, their company make the performance parts to suit the T500’s, Gary was very impressed with the finish of the Stainless Steel expansion Chambers so it was not long before I was emailing Paul and Tim of Titan Performance for more information and they had a pair of hand made Chambers made up and carefully packed of to me in Western Australia. The end result was that I showed the T500J for the 3rd time since I have had the T500J at the 4th Jap Bike Show in April 2011 and it won The Best 2 Stroke award. This year I intend to remove the engine to have the Crankshaft rebuilt and to also convert the gearbox to raise the oil capacity up to 1400cc as this Titan is not just for show as I still enjoy a spirited ride from time to time.
Tagged: , SUZUKI T500J