Featured this month is Fred’s 1972 Suzuki GT750
The Suzuki GT750 was first shown at Tokyo International Motor Show in October of 1970, and was described in the February 1971 Cycle World magazine as being ‘one of the eyepoppingest machines to be seen in a long time” ! It was released for sale in September of 1971 in Japan and then elsewhere in the world in 1972. Initially targeted as a touring machine, the GT750 was the first mass produced, liquid cooled three cylinder two stroke motorcycle to be offered to the public (note that the liquid cooled 750cc 1933 and 1000cc 1934 Scott triples were never mass produced), and over the course of its seven year production run, about 71,000 machines were sold world wide.
Fred’s bike is a 1972 model GT750J, and was featured on page 79 of the ‘Life and Times of the Motorcycle’ brochure that accompanied the display at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum between 2005 and 2006. A photo of his bike as it looked in 2006 is to the right.
The GT750 had a displacement of 738cc, was a liquid cooled, piston ported three cylinder, three carb engine initially generating about 67 hp at 6500 rpm and 55.7 ft. lb torque at 5500 rpm. This was increased to about 70 hp in 1975. It had a 5 speed gear box, carried 3.7 imp. gal. of fuel, had a curb weight of about 530 lbs, 12 V electrics, electric start (also kick start), and used oil injection (not pre-mix). The 1972 model was the only one offering a four leading shoe front brake – from 1973 onwards the GT750 was equipped with twin disc brakes up front and continued with a drum brake at the rear till sales ceased in 1977. Top speed was around 110 mph – much higher if you believed the optimistic speedometer!
Q:Perhaps a bit of background to begin with?
A:I bought one of these beauties, brand new, in May of 1972. I was 21 at the time, and this was my third bike since I had started riding at age 16. It was the Yellow Ochre (gold) colour, which the rest of the world, outside Canada and Japan home market did not see. My original Water Buffalo, unfortunately, was written off in an accident when it was only 9 days old with 622.4 miles on the clock. It was replaced with an identical unit, and at last word that one still exists somewhere in the Rosetown, Saskatchewan area.
Q: Why this bike ?
A: I’ve owned several Buffalos through the years, but your first always conjures up the fondest memories. I picked the cleanest one I had, to re-create my first version.
Q: What is the bike’s history ?
A:This particular bike was a fairly clean, un-molested example, that had been painted white, and was wasting away in a garage belonging to a member of our armed forces, here in Calgary. That was some 20 years ago now, but the process started with a full rebuild on the motor, and along the way, all the cosmetics were addressed, including a very brilliant gold colour. It was that colour that caught the eyes of the selection committee for the “Life and Times of the Motorcycle” display at the Reynolds Alberta Museum. The bike spent the better part of two years at the museum, 2005 to late 2006. When I got it back from the museum, I re-commissioned it for street riding, and set about braking-in the new engine, and setting everything to my liking for good road manners. On September 13th 2008, this beauty also suffered from an accident in Montana, 36 years after my first one.
Q: What have you done so far?
A:After 4 1/2 years, I am finally getting the bike back to it’s former glory, or at least as close as possible. Not too much was mechanically compromised from the spill, but there was lots of cosmetic and control systems damage. I straightened the forks on a friend’s 50 ton press, good as new???? The gas tank, gauges, head light and ears, rad bar, front fender, control cables, and lots of other little bits, were all but destroyed. As we speak, it is almost ready to test fire, after many repairs and parts. When I’m satisfied that it is running well, I have contacted the shop that did the original paint work, and they have agreed to do it again. That is where it sits at the moment. (Jan. 28 2013)
Q: What about parts availability for a 40 year old machine ?
A:When I set up my Flea-bay account in 2004, there was on average, about 150 to 250 listings for GT 750 parts. Now it averages over 2000 listings at any given time. For the most part, acquiring the necessary bits and pieces seems to be easy enough. I have a fairly extensive parts source myself, so what I don’t have, for the most part can be attained. The toughest find is original exhaust for these early versions with the black cones. One of my pipes is a bit damaged, but is fully serviceable until such time as I can find one.
These Suzuki GT 750s, were the first, mass produced, liquid cooled motorcycles, and with that came very impressive longevity. A bonus with the early ones, was an unusually frugal thirst for fuel, and a generous mid-range heavy power band. The result is a bike that is very good on the open road, and mine consistently delivers over 50 MPG. My immediate plan is to have it up and running well for spring, and I’m determined to return to Montana this fall, and finish the ride that was so rudely interrupted in 2008. Wish me luck. Cheers.