History of the Suzuki GT550
The Suzuki GT 550 was part of their famous GT (Grand Touring) series of the 1970s, which included the GT750 and GT380. Manufactured for six years (1972 to ’77), the GT550 was available in 6 different models, starting with the 1972 GT550J and ending with the 1977 GT550B. As a result, each year the motorcycle came with improved features, although the main specs remained almost unchanged. Overall, over 60,000 units of this touring bike were sold around the world, making it one of the more popular high-end Suzuki machines from those times.
At the heart of the Suzuki GT550 was a powerful 543cc engine that was among the first three-cylinder, two-stroke motorcycles to be seen on the UK roads. Drawing heavily from technologies developed for Suzuki racing motorcycles, the GT550 incorporated several unique features. One of these was the ram air control system, which forced airflow over the internal cylinders, helping to keep operating temperatures under control. This was important since Suzuki realized that two-stroke engines lose power rapidly when overheated, which would affect any touring experience. As a result, the Suzuki GT550 was one of the first large two-stroke motorcycles that could comfortably cruise for several hours at a time. It also featured automatic fuel-oil mixing and a visible emissions control.
The engine on the Suzuki GT550 gave 48.5 hp at 6500 rpm (improved to 53 hp in later models), giving it plenty of push for the large 440-pound bike. On the open road, riders could use the 5-speed constant mesh transmission to coax top speeds exceeding 100mph, making this bike a match for even more powerful street bikes. Earlier models came with only drum brakes, though a disk brake was quickly adopted by Suzuki for safer braking. The long wheelbase and stable suspension meant that the GT550 was quite stable and manageable for its size, improving the riding experience.
Although the Suzuki GT550 was a popular touring bike all through the 1970s, some of its glory was stolen by the more glamorous GT750, which took part in several races. As a result, most collectors and enthusiasts would prefer other GTs, though a strong core loyal group still exists for this brilliant design. It can be difficult to find genuine spare parts, so it’s advisable to always check around with reputable dealers. After all, with the right care and maintenance, a Suzuki GT550 still offers performance to rival several current production bikes!