Way back in 1979 when I was just 17 a friend turned up one day on his mates 'Super Six'. I had never seen such an odd thing - it looked like an MZ to me - and I was not impressed. However, he then started it up. I couldn't believe how good it sounded. As he hurtled off down the road on it with a searing rate of acceleration, I was hooked. I had to have it. A month later, and £95.00 poorer, it was mine. Now for some fun!
What joy it was. To my generation who had never seen or heard of T20's it was a great surprise. I steamed past friends on their KH250's, GT250's and Honda's, leaving them in in an enormous cloud of two-stroke fumes. Triumph's and BSA's were left standing at the traffic lights. Great fun.
This is the only photo I have of those years
Reliable though, it was not. Partly due to its age, but mostly due to my riding and mechanical skills, it did need regular attention. The weakest part was the gearbox. Although it was a beautiful design and well made, 4th gear was just too thin to cope with the power output and my rather heavy-handed riding style. It was the worlds first production motorcycle to have six gears, so perhaps Suzuki can be excused!
I was racing a friend one day and as I slammed it into 4th gear there was a loud BANG followed by the revcounter reving off the scale. An engine strip down later and I discovered that the fourth gear on the layshaft had disintegrated. Oh dear. (see photo at end). A trip to the bike breakers later and I was back in business, but not for long .......
My airfilter rubber had long since corroded, and air was leaking into the carburettors in vast amounts. The weak mixture this led to, gave the bike a habit of holing pistons. This was entirely my fault as I then did not know much about carburation. In all I holed three pistons on the bike, one of which I replaced only to hole it's replacement the very next day. I learned about carburation shortly after this expensive episode!
Meanwhile more gearbox faults occured. On one trip into my local town the bike got stuck in second gear. Riding a Super Six home for ten miles along fast roads whilst stuck in second gear is not something I would recommend. I was getting better at mechanics now and within five hours of getting home the engine was stripped, bent selector fork replaced, rebuilt and ridden off.
Holidays 1980 and off I went to Wales with some friends. On the way there the battery went flat and the bike broke down. It only took me an hour to find the broken alternator connection, repair it, and with a bump start I was back in business. It was a good holiday, good weather, good mates.
The journey home turned out to be even more eventful than the ride there. I was steaming along through the gorgeous Welsh roads when a rabbit ran out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, stamped down into 4th gear and BANG went the gearbox. This time the engine and back wheel locked up, sending me snaking down the road leaving a trail of rubber behind me until I finally screeched to a halt on the wrong side of the road. Yes, 4th gear had gone again, but this time bits of it had locked up the gearbox, and even managed to snap the sprocket off the end of the mainshaft. Bloody rabbits!
My two destroyed gearboxes can be seen below. Notice the missing 4th gears and mainshaft end.
I was towed the 90 miles home by a friend on a CB400, and after another trip to the bike breakers I was back on the road.
In February 1981 I was at college along with my trusty Super Six, when one day the gearbox started making odd noises. I stripped it down in my college room and rebuilt it over a weekend but to no avail. On starting it back up it sounded worse. I suspected another bent selector fork but did not have time to do it again. I sent it home on the train and my parents picked it up and parked it at their house. There it sat for several years slowly rusting away. The only adventure it had in nearly a decade was when a drunk threw up on it one New Years Eve!
I finally moved it to my present address in 1989 and parked it in my new garage. In the same year I bought another rusty old Super Six and parked it next to the first one. Every year I decided that this was the year when I would start rebuilding them - and now I have! February 1999, eighteen years after it stopped, I have finally got around to it. (I'd been a bit busy up until now!)