1968 Suzuki T500 Cobra – cont’d

With the new exhaust sorted, the search for the elusive bits continues ! As previously mentioned, the T500 MK I had a number of ‘one year only’ features, and tracking those parts down can take a while. There were about 5,100 produced globally, which means the odds of eventually finding the bits you need are better than with some of the British and Italian bikes that friends of mine restore, but some parts are as rare as hens teeth.

Take the horn as an example – I suspect the reason they are hard to locate is because the design of the mount likely meant they fell off while the bikes were being ridden. It’s a threaded stud with a nut – so two threads to worry about undoing themselves ! I was lucky to track one down in The Netherlands that is incomplete but in reasonable shape, and with a bit of fiddling I was able to get it to work which is always a bonus. I just realised that in the photo below I’m actually holding it upside down, but I’ll make sure I get it right when I install it !

Reproduction Decals sells the ‘Nikko’ label that goes in the small square inset visible on the front of the horn, as well as the 12V label that is attached to the rear .

Hand grips are another problem. Suzuki models in the USA at least were available with a stock grip and a ‘puffy’ touring grip. The touring grip was probably only offered for a couple of years and did appear on the T200, T305, the T500 and likely other models as well under part numbers # 57111-15010 (RH) and 57211-15010 (LH). These are interesting as they are built up from perhaps four separate pieces and then glued together.

Of course, after 45 years, these grips are as hard as rock due to UV damage – a copy is available from Badge Replicas in Australia (and are distributed by Reproduction Decals) but are a one piece moulded design. The thin grips I think were offered for both the MK I and the MK II but still need to confirm that. Paul Miller sells copies of them, and they are reasonably good quality. Below is a photo of a Paul Miller copy of the thin grip on the right, and the touring grip on the left. Something to note about these grips is that the throttle grip slides onto a metal tube and needs to be glued on as the inside lip abuts the throttle cable spool. The design was changed – possibly in 1970 – to have the grip inside lip fit over a flange which then abuts the throttle cable spool.

Handlebars would normally be considered easy to find, but on the MK I bars (56110-15102) the switch gear wiring was run inside the bars, and as well there was a bracing sleeve at the centre between the bar clamps. The MK II was similar, but additionally had a bar brace. The design was changed in 1971 and the wiring was run externally.

To preserve the look, I’ve used a set of the later bars as they appear to have the same rise and pull back as the earlier ones, and have cut the holes in them so I can run the wiring internally, and as well I have added a centre brace sleeve to duplicate the original appearance which should look OK when they come back from the chrome shop. In the photo below, the upper bars are the ones I’ve modified, and the lower set are from a MK II.

I still have a few things to track down – I’ve decided for the moment to stay with the newer style turn indicators as the original ones are very difficult to locate, as they appear to only have been available for a very short time. They differ from the later version that I suspect appeared the same year, in that they used a clamp fitting rather than using a hollow chrome plated stud that was in turn secured inside the lamp housing with a nut. Below is a photo of the one original signal that came with the bike.

The search continues ! Now back to getting the engine sorted !

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