The 1986 Suzuki RG 500 Gamma motorcycle was built to defend Suzuki's honor against Yamaha's new RZ 500. Though both were technical marvels, they were answers to a question no one was asking.
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Being extremely light and driven by a potent two-stroke powerplant, the Gamma is a loose cannon, with a high, narrow power band and a throttle that acts like a light switch.
Around town, the RG is docile and handles well, but spinning the tach into the upper reaches brings a whole new meaning to the word "peaky."
An experienced rider on the proper roads will find the Gamma capable of tremendous speeds, but a novice will seldom be able to tap the potential.
Construction of the Gamma centers around an all-aluminum, box-section chassis. The engine is a two-stroke "square four" with two crankshafts -- identical in concept to that used in the RZ 500 -- providing the pilot with 90 horsepower.
With a dry weight of 340 pounds, the Gamma was almost 50 pounds lighter than its competition from Yamaha.
In the end, both Suzuki and Yamaha had overestimated the demand for a street-legal race bike and sales figures languished. Although never imported directly into the United States, a handful of Gammas found their way in from across the Canadian border.
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