This is a 1976 Suzuki GT500 that we purchased in Sep. 2010 in Arcanum, OH. According to the seller, it was last ridden in 2005 and had been sitting in his shed for the past 5 years. Overall it looked to be in decent condition, the tires weren't dry rotted, the front brake still worked properly, and the engine kicked thru fine with good compression. There were 17450 miles showing on the odometer, but the title lists it as non-actual mileage for unknown reasons.
When we purchased it, it was already missing a few minor things, such as the battery side cover, front fender brace, and left mirror. The seat has been recovered, paint is faded, both headlight mounting ears are bent, gas tank is rusty inside, crankcase oil plug is missing, fork dust boots are torn, and the mirror boss on the clutch lever perch is broken. Nothing major, just a lot of little things, which is to be expected on a 34 year old bike.
Now its time to see what kind of mechanical condition the bike is in. We disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned the carburetors, installed a new battery, cleaned the plugs, and changed the gearbox oil. Now time to see if it will start. We hooked up an auxiliary gas tank, choked it, and proceeded to kick......and kick, and kick and kick. Nothing. Hooked up a spark tester, and spark looked good through the tester, so we kicked some more. The ignition system on the GT500, was what Suzuki called a PEI (pointless electronic ignition). No points to worry about, as it has a magneto driven CDI (electronic) ignition. I wish more bikes had this setup. Instead of using battery power to run the CDI, they supplied it with AC power from the magneto. It keeps the charging system and the ignition system completely seperate.....sounds like a great idea to me. Anyway the bike finally sputtered, and then with a few more kicks, it started and ran. There just ain't nothing like the sound of a 2 stroke, and the sweet smell of burning 2 stroke oil in the morning....aaahh. Shut it down, looked everything over, checked the plugs, and tried to start it again. Kick...kick...kick...kick...you get the idea. Starting to get a little frustrating. Finally got it started again, adjusted the air screws and idle on the carbs, and went for quick test ride. Felt great, all lights, signals, switches, and gauges worked great. At first I thought the tach had problems. It worked at idle, but would die when you put it in gear, but came alive again when moving. Turns out that's how suzuki built it, that tach drive & oil pump are turned by the clutch, so when you pull in the clutch handle, it quits turning the tach drive gear and the oil pump. A little weird. Makes you not want to idle in gear at a stoplight for too long.
Now the fun starts. Time to start collecting parts. This involves lots of time sitting at the computer searching forums, craigslist, feebay (I mean ebay), talking to other owners, attending swap meets, etc. Also, Suzuki still makes lots of parts for these old bikes, mostly stuff that fits numerous models, like hardware, rubber parts, some decals, and even a few larger things, like fenders, wheels, and handlebars. But you have to be careful, if you're restoring a bike, you want to keep it as original as possible, but a lot of the New Suzuki parts are different than the originals slightly. They usually lack the little S logo on things like mirrors, kickstart rubbers, etc. There's also a lot of people making reproduction parts for these old bikes. With some work and searching, you can find a lot of what you need.
After just a few weeks we've already spent a lot more on parts for the restoration, than the purchase price of the bike. We've bought a lot of NOS and reproduction parts from Paul Miller Motorcyle. He specializes in vintage Suzuki parts, and has some really nice vintage Suzuki's he's restored. So far, I've purchased a reproduction shock set, NOS rear footpegs, spark plugs, battery cable, control levers, side cover knob, footpeg brackets, and a taillight housing & lens set. Another friend I met at Vintage Days had a spare battery cover laying around and sent it to me (Thanks Bob !! ). I found a guy in France that makes reproduction fork dust boots identical to the originals. These can't be found anywhere else, so I bought a set from him, they look great. Very well made, but pricey at about $70.
Also, purchased a new turn signal set, kicker rubber with S logo, and crankcase oil plug, all from various ebay sellers in Thailand. Buying from these guys is a bit of a gamble. Sometimes the parts are NOS, sometimes cheap imitations that don't fit right, and the shipping always takes about 4-6 weeks to get here. Found a spare gas tank on ebay for $80 so thats on the way. And the biggest parts expense to date, has been with Suzuki. I've purchased all kinds of new hardware, just about every rubber piece on the bike of what they have available, a new air filter, etc, etc, etc. I'll still probably end up going back for more when we get to the final assembly process. Still trying to find a front fender in good condition, and a few other parts. But I think its just about time to start tearing this bike down, and sending the various pieces to chrome, powder coat, paint, etc.
Update: After more kicking and hard starting, headscratching, carb tuning, and more kicking....somethings not right here. After a little more troubleshooting, turns out the spark is pretty weak and intermittent. Once running, it runs great, but getting it running is a real chore. Checked the timing and it is right. Guess its time to pull the rotor and see whats going on back there.
A few more parts have arrived. Including a used ignition coil I found on ebay. Installed the new coil, but still have the same problem, weak spark. So, I ordered up 2 brand new Primary (stator) coils, and they're on the way now from Suzuki. I'm glad they still make them. I'm confident these will fix the problem.....fingers crossed.
Pulled the rotor today, to test out the stator coils. The large (low-speed) coil is supposed to have 185 ohms of resistance, and the small (hi-speed) coil has another 30 ohms, or 215 ohms total read through both coils. And the pulser, or pick-up coil is supposed to have 67 ohms resistance. Turns out the large coil was only measuring at 105 ohms, causing the hard starts, and weak spark. The new coil from Suzuki measured exactly 185 ohms. Soldered the new coil in place, and put everything back together. Put the spark plug against the head, and guess what.....a nice big FAT blue spark. I was happy. Connected some fuel to the bike, and she fired right up. And now it starts first kick everytime, even with only a half kick. Now I can finally start disassembling everything. I'll try to remember to take enough pics as I go along.
Also got a big box of parts in from Suzuki a few days ago. Every rubber part on the bike will be new, lots of new hardware, new airfilter assembly, all new cables, and lots of other misc. stuff.