“Suzuki had got as far as they could with the old square-four RG500, even after they went from disc to reed valves towards the end, to calm the power delivery and soften throttle response. With the carbs on the outside, the engine was not as compact as they wanted it to be.
The natural progression was to go for a V formation and in 1987 the RGV500 was born. With the carbs in the middle of the V, the reed valve engine started to create proper power.
By the time Kevin rode the first Pepsi bike in 1988 they’d got the design nailed and it was a steady evolution from there. The ’88 bike had both crankshafts going the same way, but the problem was that with the carbs in the middle of the engine the crankshaft went the against the intake flow, so the bikes never really had the power.
This 1989 RGV has counter-rotating cranks and that’s when they started to create some really good power, but they had a problem with reliability. Cranks were breaking simply because the bike was creating too much power.
Kevin acknowledges that 1989 was his best ever season. He won six races, but he had three mechanical DNFS and three crashes. If he hadn’t had either of those he would’ve won the world championship.
The RGV500 had Suzuki’s first big aluminium beam frame, but the team was changing it all the time, experimenting with different layouts, swingarm pivot positions and steering head angles.
The 1988 bike had conventional Showa suspension and the lower exhausts either side of the bike. But ’89 saw the first incarnation of the banana swingarm, allowing both pipes to come up the right hand side and the first generation Kayaba upside down fork. They raced all season with cast aluminum calipers, but billet versions were in development.”
Bulbous tail concealed half the exhausts
The exquisite simplicity of racing clocks
320mm iron discs with four-piston calipers
Banana swingarm still looks fresh