Why we love the RGV
Suzuki might’ve produced a race bike-aping square four RG500 road bike in the mid-80s, but the RGV500 we all really wanted never arrived. The closest we ever got was the RGV250, which was no bad thing because it was a gem of a machine.
Looking every inch like Schwantz’s 500, especially the early ’ 90s RGV250M and N models with their upside forks, banana swingarms and twin upswept pipes, the two-stroke 250 was a true pocket racer. Light, flickable, smelly, zingy - few bikes delivered the same level of pure unadulterated fun back in the day. The jewel-like V-twin motor even had the same bore and stroke as Schwantz’s 500, albeit with fewer pistons.
The RGV250J (VJ21A) was launched as a Japan-only model in 1988, but Suzuki brought the K model to the UK a year later. It was redesigned for 1991 and the RGV250M (VJ22A) with new styling, a 17in rear wheel (replacing the 18-incher) and those new forks and swingarm. The ’92 N was a slightly tweaked version, identifiable by two, instead of three, gills in the rear tail unit.
Suzuki had to revert back to a straight swingarm for the 1993 P model after Honda politely reminded them the banana shape was their patent. The following year’s R was the last officially imported to the UK, but the RGV carried on in Japan with a completely overhauled and utterly delicious 1996 RGV250T (VJ23A).
Throughout the RGV250’S history, Suzuki made tasty special-edition Japan-only versions, boasting things like dry clutches, close-ratio gearboxes and uprated suspension, which are now ultra-rare.
You can still buy just about every new part you need for your RGV250 thanks to Suzuki’s brilliant online Vintage Parts program – browse it at www.suzuki-gb.co.uk.
‘It was the best looking bike in the world when I was a boy’ OWNER STEVE WOOD
Senior Road Tester Adam Child speaks to eleven fanatical RGV250 owners to find out how the RGV500 inspired them... If ever the popularity of the RGV needed confirming, we were inundated with replies when we asked online if owners fancied joining us at Rockingham to talk about their bikes. Out of more than 50 willing volunteers we chose these lucky eleven. BRUCE BLAKELEY 1 RGV250L - VJ21A (Pepsi) Your RGV “I’ve owned this bike for just over a year.” What does the RGV mean to you? “I guess its nostalgia. You smell the two-stroke and remember wanting a 500 as a kid.” 2 CHRIS HOPKINS RGV250N - VJ22A N (Lucky Strike) Your RGV “I’ve had it for two years now. It has a Maxton rear shock and fork job.” What does the RGV mean to you? “I’ve just always loved them. This is the closest you’re going to get to owning a two-stroke GP bike on the road.” 3 RICHARD DAVIS RGV250M SP - VJ22A SP (blue and white) Your RGV “I have only owned it for 12 months. I took a gamble on an Ebay auction.” What does the RGV mean to you? “It was the bike I could never afford until now. I was a massive GP fan – and still am. This is the closest I’ll get to owning a GP bike.” 4 TIM DAVIS RGV250P - VJ22A (blue and white) Your RGV “I’ve owned this one for five years.” What does the RGV mean to you? “I wanted one when I was a kid but I couldn’t afford it. It was the same as Kevin’s so I had to have one.” 5 STEVE WOOD RGV250R – VJ22A (blue and white) Your RGV “I’ve owned this bike for 10 years.” What does the RGV mean to you? “It was the best looking bike in the world when I was a boy and still is today. Always wanted one because of GP racing.” 6 JAMES RGV250N JACKSON- VJ22A (blueYour RGVand “I’ve white) had it for six years.” What does the RGV mean to you? “I wanted one after years of watching Schwantz. To find an original blew my mind away. It’s fantastic.” 7 IAN JACKSON RGV250M - VJ22A (Lucky Strike) Your RGV “I’ve not had it long. Bought it on Ebay, but it needed some work, we sorted the carb and it’s run ever since.” What does the RGV mean to you? “Kevin’s signed the fuel tank. He and his dad wanted their photo on the bike. We sent the pictures back to America.” 8 DAVE BIRCHALL RGV250N – VJ22A (Black) Your RGV “I’ve owned it for 16 years and got it when I was 19. It’s all standard, apart from Tiga pipes and a GSX-R rear shock.” What does the RGV mean to you? “It means everything to me. When I was a lad and watched GP racing I wanted to be Kevin Schwantz. He rode the 500, I wanted that and the 250 was the closest I could get.” 9 BARRY MANTELL RGV250P - VJ22A (purple and red) Your RGV “I’ve owned it for 15 years and it’s been fully stripped back and rebuilt since.” What“I was love the doesmy best two-strokesthe one RGV out mean there.”and to the you? 500 10 NEIL PEARSON RGV250SP - VJ21A (blue and white) Your RGV “I’ve owned it for a year. It’s a bike I’ve been hunting for ages and I wanted an original.” What “Aged does18 all the my RGV mates mean had to Xr3is, you? but I was a biker. Kevin was my hero and the RGV was a 130mph two-stroke.” 11 GARRY JAY RGV250L - VJ21A (white and black) Your RGV “It’s standard except for Tiga pipes and Pipercross air-filter. I’ve got another, built out of bits, with a 300cc engine, for trackdays.” What does the RGV mean to you? “It reminds me of being a fan of GPS and the Trans Atlantic series back in the day, seeing the greats battle it out.”
‘ This is the closest thing I’ll get to owning a GP bike’ OWNER RICHARD DAVIS
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