Barry Sheene’s 1979 Suzuki XR27

With Phil Aynsley


PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

Suzuki began its challenge for the 500cc World Championship with its TR500/XR05 twin in the hands of such riders as Jack Findlay, who provided Suzuki with its first 500 Grand Prix victory in the 1971 Ulster race (the XR05 had actually debuted at Daytona in 1968). XR05 riders finished second, third and fifth in the ’71 championship.

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

However with the passing of a few years the twins were no longer competitive so the famous square four series of racers was introduced in 1975 with the XR14 – see: Barry Sheene’s Suzuki XR14 (link).

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

The XR22 advanced the square-four design with rear two-cylinders being stepped up from the front pair. This was continued with the XR27 seen here.

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

In fact this is the actual bike that Barry Sheene rode in the famous race with Kenny Roberts in the 1979 British GP at Silverstone.

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

After numerous lead changes Kenny won by 0.3 of a second. Barry won three GPs that year but finished third in the Championship, behind Roberts and Virginio Ferrari.

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

The bike was displayed in a number of UK museums over the years before being bought by the current owner in 2006, and boasts 125hp with a top speed of 290km/h.

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

PA Barry Sheene Suzuki XR
Barry Sheene 1979 Suzuki XR27

1975 Suzuki XR14 - The very machine that Barry Sheene won his (and Suzuki’s) first 500cc GP race on - Image by Phil Aynsley

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