Restoring the Barry Sheene 1976 Suzuki RG500 XR14
The late, great Barry Sheene was the Valentino Rossi of his day.
Incredibly popular across the world, Sheene lived an action-packed life, filled with beautiful women, drinking, cigarettes and plenty of cash.
The lad from London took back-to-back 500cc World Championship crowns in 1976 and 1977, but is best remembered for his rivalry with Kenny Roberts, a contest spread over 1978 to 1983 and one that would come to define that era of grand prix racing.
Sheene left us in 2003, the victim of cancer, at the age of just 52 years old. But his legend is such that he is still revered across the globe, and interest in his racing machines is now at the highest point since his death.
Sheene famously kept one of his machines from every year he competed in grand prix racing, his personal stable of machines located on Australia’s Gold Coast ranging from 1975 to 1984.
This is where Team Classic Suzuki comes in. One of the team’s technicians, Martyn Ogborne, worked with Team Suzuki and Sheene during his 1976 title winning season. He and fellow former GP mechanic Nigel Everett have been charged with restoring the title-winning Heron Texaco Suzuki RG500XR14. Winner of four grands prix, the XR14 has sat dormant for the best part of 40 years after it was assembled for Sheene in the winter of 1975.
The accompanying videos show Ogborne and Everett meticulously disassembling the XR14, replacing parts deemed unserviceable with new items from the Suzuki Vintage Parts catalogue, but also trying to reuse as many of the original parts as possible from the iconic racer.
So sit back and check out these two brilliant videos from Suzuki UK—you’ll be pleased you did.
And just for good measure, here is Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts during their legendary battle at Silverstone in 1979.