Property of Stan Woods, the ex-George Fogarty
1977 Suzuki RG500 MkII Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. RG11075
Engine no. 11130
Six years out of Grand Prix racing, Suzuki returned in 1973 with a roadster-based TR500 twin for works rider Jack Findlay and, after what was essentially an interim season, was ready to take on the MV Agusta and Yamaha's TZ500 in the 500cc class. The Hamamatsu firm already had plenty of experience of 'square four' engines in the form of the defunct RZ63 250, and this compact layout was revived for its new premier-class racer: the RG500.
Based on the square-four cylinder layout of Suzuki's earlier 250, the RG500 was first used by the works in 1974. In its first incarnation the water-cooled two-stroke employed bore/stroke dimensions of 56x50.5mm and featured twin geared-together crankshafts and a six-speed gearbox. Dimensions of 54x54mm were adopted later by the works bikes but the customer version, available from 1976, stuck with the original combination until the MkIV's arrival in 1979. The RG's initial maximum power output of 90bhp was eventually upped to nearer 150bhp before the factory switched to a V4 for 1987. By then the RG500 had won seven manufacturers' titles for Suzuki and provided Britain's Barry Sheene with his two World Championships.
From 1983 onwards the pace of development slackened and the RG500 was less competitive with rivals Honda and Yamaha. The class of the field in its day, the RG500 provided talented privateers with a competitive mount at the highest level, and Jack Middleburgh's 1981 British Grand Prix-winning example remains the last entirely private entry to win a premier-class World Championship round. Although technically complex, the customer version was deservedly popular and many are still in action today in post-classic racing.
Bought new from Suzuki by George Fogarty (father of Carl), this RG500 MkII was raced by him during 1977 and 1978 throughout the UK and Ireland achieving excellent results including 2nd place behind Joey Dunlop in the '77 Isle of Man Jubilee TT. The Suzuki was subsequently purchased by Alan Lawton who continued to campaign it throughout the 1980s and early '90s in the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man. During 2010/2011 it was restored by Stan Woods, winner of the 1972 500cc Production TT and a Suzuki GB works rider alongside Barry Sheene. Stan stripped and rebuilt the cycle parts and mechanical components (using original parts), returning the RG to running condition and renewing the paintwork. The machine is offered with a selection of period photographs showing it in action.