This rusty bike may be 40 years old next month but has real history!
If you take a glance at this used Suzuki and just see a rusty old twin-shocker that’s well past its sell-by date, then move on. This story isn’t for you. But if you know your MX history, you may spot the roughly repainted aluminium swingarm, remote reservoir rear shocks, long travel forks, funny grey coloured triple clamps, translucent side panels and frame that never made it into production. What you’re looking at is a real, genuine works bike of yesteryear that has been undiscovered and, so it seems, largely unloved, until now.
This bike is 1977 model but isn’t an RM370B, which was the production Suzuki of the time – the first RM with an upswept pipe rather than a downpipe that went under the engine. This is a Suzuki RN500, which means it’s a full-factory open-class Suzuki. It was ridden to victory in the USGP at the legendary Carlsbad in Southern California by Dutchman Gerrit Wolsink. The team-mate of Roger De Coster whose 1977 RN500 was also discovered only in recent years and now lives in an exclusive private collection. And that one’s a lot, lot nicer than the Wolsink bike you see here.
At the end of the 1977 season, the factory team decamped back to the USA for the Trans-AMA series and took their works bikes with them. But it seems instead of having them shipped back to Europe, the Wolsink and De Coster bikes were left back in the USA. After all, the 1978 factory bikes were soon to be arriving in Europe anyway.
Judging by the condition, this Wolsink bike has been well used around the track and is in much need of tidying and restoring. But a Suzuki factory bike expert cast his eye over the machine and was shocked to see virtually all the original factory parts still there. From the high seat that Wolsink used to the long aluminium tail pipe – back when steel was the material for silencers. The shocks, factory forks, one-off frame, magnesium engine cases, works exhaust, brakes and pretty much everything else is intact. It seems the bars have been replaced by some strangely high one, and the rear brake is different to the De Coster-spec bike. But which is actually the original is anyone’s guess.
So it seems this is a genuine, intact and unrestored piece of motocross history that has not seen the light of day for 39 years. And it could soon be yours, if you have the money. It was up for auction in Las Vegas in 2017, and you can find more details here. The vendor is listed as the Gerrit Wolsink collection, adding credibility to its provenance as the read deal.
First published MotoHead Issue 2 – January 2017
By Adam Duckworth