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Clymer Manuals Suzuki T500 Cobra Titan Vintage Motorcycle Walk Around Video

Clymer Manuals got an up-close look at a Andy Fisher’s custom Suzuki T500 at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Show.

Clymer on the lift didn't have to go far to attend the 2013 Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts club 22nd Annual Vintage Motorcycle Show. Classic vintage antique motorcycles motorcycle bikes British, German, Japanese, Italian, European, American motorbikes were all on display. Manufacturers included Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW, Harley Davidson, Vincent, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Brough Superior, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Puch, Lambretta, MV Augusta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, AJS and more. There were 100% perfect restorations, bike ridden in, a few trailer queens, full-on customs, cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, trials bikes, dirt bikes, road racers...any type or style motorcycle you could imagine.

The Suzuki T series was a series of motorcycle manufactured by Suzuki that ran from approximately 1963 through 1977 in various engine displacements between 90 and 500 cc.

All engines were of the kick start, piston-ported, air-cooled, two-stroke, two-cylinder type. Lubrication was provided via premix or automatic oil injection depending on the year and model. All models through the 1965 model year were of the premix type while all models from 1966 onwards used automatic oil injection. Models 250 cc and above were fitted with large twin leading shoe drum brakes until 1975 when disc front brakes were introduced. Models under 250 cc had single leading shoe brakes. Most models had six-speed gearboxes, enabling the factory tuner to raise engine speed with the consequent narrowing of the power band.

During the 1960s, Suzuki showed that it was serious about staying at the forefront of the motorcycle business. In the fall of 1965, they introduced the T20 Hustler twin (aka X6 or Super Six) as a 1966 model with 250 cc displacement, automatic oil injection and the world's first six-speed transmission in a production motorcycle.

In late 1967, building on their success with the T20, Suzuki introduced the T500/5 (Cobra in the US/Canada markets and Titan elsewhere) as a 1968 model. This was a 500 cc twin-cylinder air-cooled bike with a five-speed transmission. It was able to do over 100 mph, durable, handled reasonably well, especially on motorways and sweeping bends and went on to be produced in the tens of thousands until the end of the 1977 model year. The "Cobra" model name was dropped at the end of the first year of production, apparently after Suzuki received a letter from the Ford Motor Company's legal department. Ford at that time had an agreement to market the Shelby Mustang "Cobra" automobile so they took offense at Suzuki's use of the name. From that time on, the T500 was known as the "Titan" in all markets until the 1976 model year.

In 1976, the Titan was given a facelift and gained a single disc front brake. The "Titan" name was dropped and the designation became, simply, GT500 for both the 1976 and 1977 model years. At the end of the 1977 model year, the 500 was dropped from Suzuki's model line after a production run of ten model years and well over 100,000 examples produced. In Australasia the T350 Rebel developed legendary status after the triumph of racer Joe Eastmure over much larger super bikes in both the 1972 and 1973 6 hour race at Amaroo, Australia. Although only 315 cc and having drum brakes, the bike was able to out race bikes with twice the engine capacity using the quick but stable handling of the bike, especially the ground clearance. The T125 was a popular, cheap and robust commuter in New Zealand. During the 1971 oil shock and recession, large numbers of Japanese home market Wolf models were imported into New Zealand and underpriced the normal export model. The key differences were a less well finished petrol tank which had a narrow raised seam running along the centre top and black painted exhaust instead of all chrome. Most of those imported were the high pipe street scrambler style. A T90 model was also imported. It did not have a tachometer. Unlike the 250 ,350 and 500 models the 125 and 90 had cast iron barrels with aluminum heads angled well forward into the slip stream to lower engine temperature.

All engines had two parallel cylinders with air cooling.
T90 Wolf
T125 Stinger (or Flying Leopard/Wolf in the Japanese home market)
T200 Invader (also known as the X5 in the North American market)
T10 (no marketing name known; 250 cc engine with premix oiling system)
T20 "Hustler" (also known as the X6 in the North American market; successor to the T10)
T250 Hustler (successor to the T20 starting with the 1969 model year)
T305 Raider (only actually produced for about one year ca. 1968)
T350 Rebel (outgrowth of the T250; actual engine displacement was 315 cc)
T500 Titan

Suzuki also produced some of these models in a "high pipe" or "street scrambler" version. These models were sometimes prefixed as "TC". Specific TC models included:
TC200 (marketed as Stingray in North America)
TC250 (two versions available; one based on the T20 and one based on the T250)
TC305 (marketed as Laredo in North America)

The TC models listed above had nothing in common with the later off-road models that Suzuki built under the same (TC) model designation. Those later bikes were all single-cylinder machines with dual range transmissions and proper knobby-type off-road tires. The T125 was produced in both high and low pipes -both using the same model number T125.

Years produced: 1968-1975
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 46hp @ 6,000rpm (1975)
Top speed: 105mph
Engine type: 492cc, air-cooled two stroke parallel twin
Weight (dry): 187kg (412lb)
MPG: 30-40
Price then: N/A
Price now: $500-$1,750

Cobras are quick, venomous snakes, renowned for striking fast and for striking fear in the heart of anyone unlucky enough to cross their path. In Greek mythology, the Titans were the children of Uranus and Gaea, supreme rulers of the universe until Zeus came along and took over.

We’re not quite sure what Suzuki was reaching for when they pulled the Cobra and, subsequently, Titan names into their lineup, but if they were aiming for a lethal strike at the competition or market supremacy, they fell short of the mark.

Largely overlooked today, the T500 was a unique proposition when Suzuki rolled it out to an increasingly power-hungry market in 1968. Granted, 46hp wasn’t exactly mind-bending, but as the largest production two-stroke twin since pre-war England’s water-cooled Scott, the T500 defied conventional wisdom by pursuing a different direction in motorcycle development.

Clymer Manuals Vintage Collection Series Two-Stroke Motorcycles VCS2

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