1989 Suzuki RGV 500 XR75: A SPARKLING SUCCESS
Kevin Schwantz’s 1989 Pepsi Suzuki RGV 500 is arguably the most sparkling race bike in the history of Motorcycle Grand Prix racing. Pepsi, famous at the time for its campaigns featuring the greatest pop star in the world Michael Jackson, acted as main sponsor to the factory Suzuki Racing team in 1988 and 1989, the soda brand being a welcoming sight in amongst the tobacco sponsored competition. The fresh image of an immaculate white grand prix bike combined with its rider’s jaw-dropping on-track performances made the Pepsi Suzuki an instant sparkling succes.
American Kevin Schwantz and the factory Pepsi Suzuki shocked the world by winning their debut Grand Prix race at Suzuka, Japan, beating reigning world champion Wayne Gardner. If the sliding and bucking Suzuki bearing number 34 hadn’t already made a lasting impession, the winner’s celebrations certainly did. Standing on the foot pegs, punching holes in the air, a jubilant Kevin Schwantz stole the hearts of racing fans around the world.
Kevin Schwantz won 8 races on the Pepsi Suzuki; enough for Suzuki to introduce a now highly sought-after Pepsi RGV 250 street bike replica and for thousands of bike fans around the world to build their own Pepsi Suzuki replica bike wearing Kevin’s replica leathers, boots and helmet.
By 1987 Suzuki had come to the end of development of its square-four RG500. Thus it was decided in Japan to design a new engine with its cylinders in a V-formation which held the carburettors inside the V. Where the first RGV 500 was still down on power, making Schwantz’s 2 GP wins in 1988 even more special, the 1989 RGV was a lot quicker thanks to counter-rotating crankshafts. It had an aluminium beam frame, upside-down forks and a banana-shaped swing arm, weighing only 115 kilograms and producing around 170 horsepower.
This 1989 Suzuki RGV 500 XR 75 owned by bike collector Steve Wheatman was lovingly restored in 2017 by Team Classic Suzuki. It would have been a world championship winning bike had it not been for 3 mechanical DNF’s and 3 crashes. Schwantz powered the #34 bike to 6 GP victories, 2 more than 1989 world champion Eddie Lawson.
During the Classic GP Kevin Schwantz will ride his GP bike at Assen for the first time since 1989.