Suzuki GB has received three Grand Prix Championship winning bikes ridden by the moto racing icon Barry Sheene. All three bikes belong to the Suzuki RG500 series on which Sheene won two consecutive Grand Prix World Championships.
BARRY SHEENE RACE BIKES READY FOR RESTORATION
The race bikes that arrived at Suzuki GB’s Milton Keynes HQ, are Sheene’s last Grand Prix bike – the DAF Trucks-sponsored ’84 XR45 RG500 with the Harris frame. Also shipped and uncrated were his 1978 XR27 RG500 and a special XR23A 652cc big bore RG500. The latter was raced by the legend in the Trans Atlantic series and Championship back in 1979.
That ’79 season also saw an historic joust for the championship between Sheene and ‘King’ Kenny Roberts. A fight which Roberts ultimately won. However, not before an extraordinary race at the British Grand Prix between the two.
That particular Silverstone race saw both riders take the lead from one another on numerous occasions, and gave GP fans a delightful moment – the now-infamous tongue in cheek ‘wave’ back to Roberts by Sheene. The gesticulation was caught on camera after Copse Corner in the last half of the race. Roberts won that day too but not by much; just a metre or so.
Restorative Magic for the Sheene’s Suzuki XR45 and XR23A race bikes
It’s Sheene’s Suzuki racers; the XR45 and XR23A that are set to have the same restoration magic applied this year. The restorative work on the classic bikes will be carried out by “former 70s and ‘80s Grand Prix technician Nigel Everett and former mechanic for Barry Sheene, Martyn Ogborne.”
The other race bike – the 1978 XR27 RG500 will be displayed alongside the two World Championship winning XR14s, which were also been restored in collaboration with Suzuki Vintage Parts Programme.
“Launched in 2013, Suzuki’s Vintage Parts Programme exists to help owners of older Suzukis keep their machines maintained or help with restoration projects, with a host of parts available from cylinders, pistons, and conrods, to a range of bearings and seals, and everything in between.“Suzuki GB
Suzuki GB did something similar last year for Motorcycle Live 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham, when it restored Sheene’s, G-54 Grand Prix bike – the only one of its kind in existence.
REPATRIATED FROM AUSTRALIA
“This is another special moment for us. These bikes haven’t been back in the UK since Barry and his family emigrated to Australia, so it’s quite something to get them out of the crates and see them here again. But it’s going to be even more of a special occasion when they live again, thanks to the restoration process“Suzuki GB aftersales marketing coordinator, Tim Davies
The bikes were transported from Australia where Sheene and his family moved after his racing days. They have been warmly received by Suzuki GB team who excited to see the restoration work for fans
and themselves alike. Suzuki GB’s Tim Davies added “..it’s a great opportunity for fans to again see, hear, and smell them as they would have existed at the time. We can’t wait.”
You’ll be able to see the completed works in a couple of months on the Suzuki stand [4D20] at Motorcycle Live between 16 and 24 November. The show promises to be as exciting as always. See you there.