Suzuki’s restoration of the G-54 – the precursor to the iconic RG500 Grand Prix machine – at Motorcycle Live 2018 has been voted as the best manufacturer feature at the annual motorcycle show, the second time Suzuki has won the award in as many years.
The bike was restored to working order by former Grand Prix technician Nigel Everett with the help of Suzuki’s Vintage Parts Programme. There was also assistance from Barry Sheene’s former technician Martyn Ogborne on weekends.
Positioned not only so visitors could get a closer look at it, but the bike was also fired into life at various points during the event, allowing enthusiasts to see it in the metal and also revel in the sounds and smells of the legendary two-stroke machine. Paul Smart, who raced the bike in 1974, was also present to talk about his experiences.
Suzuki GB aftersales co-ordinator, Tim Davies, who organised the live build said, “We’ve done a few builds and restorations in recent years at Motorcycle Live, but this is probably one of the most interesting because of the story that comes with the bike. When we learned about it and talked about bringing it back to life we were all really excited about the prospect. That’s when we thought, ‘if we’re this excited, hopefully other motorcycle enthusiasts will be too’. So we made the decision to bring it to Motorcycle Live so everyone else could enjoy seeing and hearing it restored to its former glory, and we’re really pleased to learn that it was appreciated by the visitors.”
The G-54 concept was born in May 1973 as Suzuki prepared to return to Grand Prix racing in the premier class, five years after withdrawing following regulation changes by the F.I.M.
The bike – where G denoted Grand Prix use only and 54 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.
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, Smart, and Jack Findlay that year.
The award is decided purely by public vote with no input from organisers or the Motorcycle Live show committee, which only adds to Suzuki’s delight in knowing it has bought pleasure to the motorcycling community.
For more information on Suzuki’s Vintage Parts Programme and Suzuki’s range of motorcycles, click here.
Watch the bike fired into life at Motorcycle Live here.