Suzuki T500 Restoration

Restored Suzuki T500Late to the party but catching up fast

Lincoln bricklayer, Ivan Brighty, may have caught the restoration and collecting bug relatively late on in life, but he is certainly making up for it now. Having been biking all of his adult life, 50-year-old Ivan began his two-wheeled career in 1976 on a Yamaha FS1E. Once old to enough to move up to the next capacity, Ivan bought an RD250C and an RD400C soon joined it “The D model of 1977 had arrived and the local dealer, Brian Lee, had last years bike in stock” Ivan recalled “it was at an attractive price too, so I had to buy it, making me a 17-year-old with an RD400, quite a rare thing back then, and probably akin to owning a Fireblade at that age now.

Restored Yamaha FS1-E“Then my brother Wayne and I bought a pair of Kawasaki KH400s, next up came a Laverda Jota and then two years later, that made way for the much nicer Montjuic, and after that a string of desirable machines, culminating in a Honda RC30 in the late 80s.

Restored Suzuki 50“I ride a DRz400 to work every day and still have the RC30, having done a lot of work to it, fitting 17-inch wheels, Tony Scott engine blueprint, full Termignoni exhaust system and other refinements aimed at keeping the benchmark machine up with the 90s Superbikes, as owned by many my biking mates. The restoring bug came relatively late on, it was while visiting the Donington park classic show a couple of years back that it got me thinking about the bikes of my youth.”

Suzuki 50 and Lambretta SX150“My old Fizzie was still in my dads shed, so I dragged it out and set about making it like new again, it didn’t really need that much to get it going and roadworthy, as my dad had regularly kicked it over and kept it sprayed with WD40, although to get it into as new condition it would require a good deal of replacement parts. Charlie Owen, a well-known character in the sports moped scene, helped me no end with the FS1E restoration, and every other bike has seen a fair bit of input from the relevant experts. Garelli collector, and close friend, Ian Ritchie, has also been a great help, his enthusiasm, and high standard of workmanship, has spurred me onto greater things too. Next up came the Suzuki A50, not a UK import, but a French model with a seat fairing and upswept exhaust, it certainly causes a stir when I display it at classic shows, and it has won a few prizes too.

“I would be reluctant to do another small capacity Suzuki, as parts are getting scarce now, the engine is easy, as the bearings and gaskets are the same as the UK Specification AP, but cosmetic parts are all but impossible to find. Then I stumbled across the T500 it’s a 1973 model and in pretty much original trim, and cheap too. I have had the frame powder coated, but apart from that, its as it would have been in the day. It’s a really practical machine too, reliable and easy to ride, and with a wide spread of power, a proper ride to work classic bike.

Ivan Brighty's collection“On a recent trip to the Isle of Wight, for a Garelli owners club weekend, I got talking to the owner of an early Yamaha twin, and it spawned the idea of owning one again. That’s when I bought a 1976 RD250B and set about restoring it. I did make a big mistake however, as when I first started work the engine ran nicely, so I left it and concentrated on the cycle parts. When it was all done the engine started playing up so it had to come apart anyway. Any two-stroke that has been left standing will need the crank seals replacing as a matter of course, so its always wise to strip the engine and fully rebuild it just to be safe. I also have a 1967 Lambretta SX150, it’s relatively un-restored, although the engine has been rebuilt, and lovely to ride too, very torquey and super smooth. It has had an electronic ignition fitted, which keeps it reliable, but apart from that, it’s as they were in the day.”

So what’s next for the Brighty garage ?

“Well I would love a Suzuki Super 6, and of course another Montjuic, but prices are rocketing, and parts for the latter getting real hard to locate. Its the same now with the RD400, I would love to have one, but prices are starting to get ridiculous, especially the later models. I will be returning the RC30 to its former glory in the near future, I have kept all of the original parts, even the standard rubber brake hoses, so I can keep it as the well developed machine it is, or return it to how Honda intended.”

Suzuki T500 Restoration Gallery

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