Barry Sheene’s Suzuki XR14

By Phil Aynsley

One particularly historic bike I’ve been privileged to photograph is this Suzuki XR14 – the very machine that Barry Sheene won his first 500cc GP race on.

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

It is one of the two only known survivors of the four bikes supplied to the factory Suzuki GB Team in 1975. Barry’s historic race win was at Assen on 28th June and was followed by him setting a new lap record (201.85kph) at Spa the following weekend, then another victory in the Swedish GP two weeks later. He finished the season in sixth place, behind Agostini on the Yamaha who took is final 500cc championship that year.

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

This bike (frame no. 1026) was restored in 1998 and through Suzuki’s race records was confirmed as the Assen winning machine. Barry rode it at the Assen Centennial Meeting in 1999 and signed the tank then. The bike is owned by Team Classic Suzuki in England.

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

It can be seen how this very early version of Suzuki’s 500 square-four design (1974 was it’s first year of GP competition) was very much four individual 125s coupled together. Over the years the cylinder spacing decreased, then the crankshafts were stepped to make the motor ever more compact. Output was 101hp at 11,200rpm.

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