1975 Suzuki RE5

For Sale: 1975 Suzuki RE5

The 1970s was a decade of experimentation for many motorcycle companies. Honda moved the needle from two strokes to very complicated four cylinder four strokes, Ducati continued to evolve the Desmo valve actuation concept, Yamaha continued to beat the two stroke drum, and Suzuki wavered between two strokes and four, and went so far as to introduce a rotary as well. Of all of the novel bikes created in the 1970s, this one is perhaps the most novel; a Wankel-engined motorcycle for the masses.

Suzuki engineers stuffed a single rotor engine with a swept displacement of 500cc into a motorcycle chassis and sold it for a pittance compared to any other rotary of the day (Van Veen and Norton were the two other rotaries offered, and they were frightfully expensive). Still, the RE5 was more expensive than more “normal” counterparts, and failed to sell in large numbers. A 3 year model run saw relatively few changes (more on that later), and relatively few sales.

While Suzuki was able to succesfully mate the Wankel to a sporty motorcycle, they could not eliminate some of the inherent downsides of the rotary motor. First off, the Wankel is heavy, and the resultant 500cc bike outweighed any middle-weight and probably most liter bikes of the day. Part of this weight is due to the need for cooling. Check out the size of the radiator; rotaries run very hot and need robust cooling systems. Secondly, the fuel consumption of the Wankel is legendary – as America endured the oil embargo and rising gas prices, this became a concern. Combine high weight and high fuel consumption with relatively modest performance (the rotary is very smooth at high RPM but is not known for torque) along with a high sticker price and you have the makings for a classic showroom queen.

From the seller:
This is a good example of a very rare motorcycle. It is amazing how much power the Wankel rotary engine produces with just 500cc’s. I have ridden this bike around town a few times. It really runs great and man does it turn some heads. The bike is in such good running and riding condition you could ride it anywhere. It would make someone a good every day rider or you could just show it. You probably will be the only one in your town to own one. Bid with confidence, this is a very good and very rare motorcycle.

From a collector perspective, these are relatively rare motorcycles. They are not seen every day, either on the street or in auctions. Therefore, the desireability is pretty decent. These are complex motorcycles, and therefore the buyer would be cautioned to purchase the very best available if riding the bike is in the cards. Most two and four stroke mechanics are not totally familiar with the operation of the Wankel powerplant, which makes restoration a little more difficult, although by no means impossible.

Changes over the model years are very few. This is one of the earlier bikes, as seen by the pod-theme in the instrument cluster and tail light section. The last year bikes have conventional instrumentation and lights, as Suzuki attempted to boost sales by making the bikes appear a little bit more main stream. Unfortunately that failed, and the RE5 is now a collectable piece of history.

This bike looks to be in good condition, and is practically begging for a new home. Bidding interest has been very high, and the current bid sits at $4,000 – that is very low money for a very rare bike! For more information and your chance to bid on this rare wonder, click the link and jump over to the auction. Good luck, and tell ’em you found it on CSBFS!

MI

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