Suzuki’s little firecracker – the GT185

Following Suzuki’s sometimes puzzling marketing philosophy of the 1970s, Steve Cooper traces the birth and development of the GT185 two-stroke twin.

Back in the day, the way in which Suzuki divvied up new models was somewhat haphazard to say the least. Some models enjoyed long life spans and often morphed into more modern machines, the transition from T250 to GT250 being a perfect example – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it etcYet sometimes other commercially successful models were suddenly deleted from production lists for no apparent or obvious reasons, and to make matters even more intriguing, as often as not Suzuki had nothing new to fill the gaps.

The Suzuki GT185’s styling was typical of its era, with lashings of chrome and that Ram-Air cylinder head, but its performance was something else.

Two notable incidences were the cessation of the sublime T125 Stinger and the hugely competent T200 Invader. In the case of the latter, it was dropped in 1968 and Suzuki didn’t fill the gap in its model range until the GT185 of 1973, which just so happens to be this month’s subject.

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Wake-up call?

Launched late that year for the 1974 model season, the bike was named The Adventure in the USA while the rest of the world knew the new arrival simply as the GT185K – and oddly enough, contrary to Suzuki’s standard policy of trying out fresh models on its home market, the bike was notable by its absence and wasn’t launched in Japan until a year or so later.

There’s a suspicion that Suzuki had suddenly woken up to the fact that Yamaha had been picking up substantial custom that Suzuki had inexplicably walked away from. The Iwata-based brand had been cleaning up with the CS series 180-200cc twins and with the all-new RD200 already grabbing attention, Suzuki went for the overseas markets to capture some much-needed sales in the sub-250 capacity group.

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Read more in the March issue of OBM – out now!

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