Despite Suzuki winning a total of six 500 cc world championships only three 500cc Hamamatsu built bikes were ever raced with the number one plate. As a superstition, British racer Barry Sheene, who won Suzuki’s first two world 500 cc titles, kept the number seven on his fairing throughout his career. Suzuki’s second world champion, Italian Marco Lucchinelli, jumped ship to Honda the following year and took the number one plate with him. 1982 world champion Franco Uncini from Italy was the first to boast the number one on his 1983 factory Suzuki in the premier class. It would take another ten years before the number one Suzuki would return..

American Kevin Schwantz was one of those riders who kept their favorite racing number throughout their career. But contrary to Sheene, after having won the 1993 world 500 cc championship, Schwantz said goodbye to his racing number 34 and proudly chose the number one for his 1994 campaign. For good luck, the bike still had a small 34 hand written onto the number one plate. The American took the number one Suzuki to victory twice that year as he scored four more podium finishes in Spain, Austria, Germany and Italy.


After breaking his wrist at Assen on Friday and finishing an heroic 5th. on Sunday, Kevin Schwantz would go on to take his final Grand Prix victory a month later at Donington Park. After suffering another violent highside in qualifying, the reigning world champion pulled out a distinctive Schwantz move to take the lead in the race. He rode around the outside of champion-elect Mick Doohan, under braking for the Melbourne hairpin. Kevin never looked back and took off to take his final and twenty-fifth Grand Prix victory at one of his favourite race tracks.

Compared to early RGV’s the 1994 RGV 500 had a twin power valve system mounted in the exhaust, giving it a bit more power at lower revs. It also had Suzuki’s first ‘quickshifter’ which allowed the rider to change gears without pulling the clutch lever. The chassis came with adjustable features such as the ride height position, steering head angle, triple clamp offset and a different swing arm pivot. Suzuki used several different chassis to suit different circuits. Weighing 135 kilograms, the XR84 produced around 190 horsepower and was capable of top speeds well over 300 kilometers per hour.

Kevin was never fully fit in 1994. Starting the season recovering from an arm fracture, dislocating his wrist and breaking his scaphoid and finally dislocating his hip and breaking the scaphoid for a second time, he elected to sit out the remaining races of the 1994 season, with Australian Michael Doohan winning his first of five world championships. For 1995 the Suzuki once again sported number 34. Such was the impact of Schwantz’s favourite racing number, that upon his retirement in 1995, Dorna and the FIM decided to withdraw the number 34 from competition in the 500 cc class, forever linking the starting number to the 1993 world champion.

This 1994 Suzuki RGV 500 XR84 is only the second 500 cc Suzuki to sport the number one plate. It is owned and maintained by Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic Suzuki, based in the UK. During the TABAC Classic GP Assen American Kevin Schwantz is reunited with the bike he rode to his final Grand Prix victory.

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