Where was the RE-5

I caught the episode of “Twist the Throttle” on Suzuki. As one might imagine, there was a lot of focus on the GSX and GSXRs. The show was interesting, but it was really more about the GSX series of bikes than it was about Suzuki. They did mention that Suzuki started out as a factory that made looms and was forced into the motorcycle business. From that point on the show focused on the development of the bikes that came to be know as “Gixxers.” Watching the show one would assume that every step was a complete success and that every attempt to reinvent the company or product lead to global acclaim, and financial rewards.
Where was the RE-5? These 497cc rotary engine machines were as bold a step as any taken by any motorcycle company. They just couldn’t give them away. They were manufactured from 1974 through 1976. There were still unsold bikes sitting around in inventory and some were sold as 1977 models. Eventually the company gave up on the bikes. One story goes that Suzuki was so angered by the failure that all of the leftover parts were rounded up and dumped in the sea of Japan. It’s not likely, but it sure makes a good story.
I’d like to have heard more about the RE-5 on the show. Companies are shaped and defined by their failures as well as their successes.

— Guy Wheatley

One Response

  1. Chuck Nodine Says:

    Just came across your blog surfing…

    I am the proud owner of a new (to me) 2005 Victory Touring Cruiser.

    I was also the owner of a 1977 Suzuki RE5. My RE5 was fast, but the chassis was the same as the water buffalo…meaning, it handled poorly and was heavy.

    It was thirsty! I might get 15mpg out of it on a slow day!

    The engine itself was quite reliable. The bike electrics were awful.

    I thought it was a fun ride if for no other reason – it was very different.

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