Sheene machine wows the crowd

Riley Riley

Suzuki has released a video of its latest Barry Sheene resto, with two more of the former champion’s RG500s returned to their former glory.

The bikes include the 1984 XR45, with its DAF sponsorship, plus a special XR23A from 1979, which was a big bore RG500 raced in the Trans Atlantic series and Formula 750 Championship.

Ex-Grand Prix technicians Nigel Everett and Martyn Ogborne worked in conjunction with Suzuki’s Vintage Parts Program to rebuild the last 500 Sheene raced for Suzuki in Grand Prix.

The bikes were stripped and, where required, repaired or refurbished, before being reassembled on the Suzuki stand at Motorcycle Live, where visitors could see Everett and Ogborne plying their trade — before they started the bikes up over the final weekend.

Suzuki’s Tim Davies, said those involved were blown away by the reception and feedback this restoration again received at Motorcycle Live.

“It was really humbling to hear people’s stories of meeting and watching Sheene race,” he said.

“With these rebuilds and the additional Sheene bikes on display – including the refurbished 1976 and 1977 title-winning XR14s – it really was a great celebration of, arguably, Britain’s favourite motorcycle racer.

“These rebuilds are only possible thanks to the Vintage Parts Program and the support it receives from owners of older Suzukis that want to keep them running, keep them alive, and looking their best.

“It enables us to undertake projects like this and we’re already plotting the next one,” he said.

Sheene, a two-time world champion, died of cancer at the age of 52 in 2003.

A heavy drinker and smoker, he famously had a hole drilled through the chin-bar of his full-face helmet so that he could smoke right up to the start of a race.

After a career stretching from 1968 to 1984, he worked as a motorsport commentator and property developer.

He and his family moved to Australia in the late 1980s, in the hope the warmer climate would help relieve Sheene’s injury-induced arthritis, settling on a property near the Gold Coast.

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