1985 Suzuki RG500 Gamma | Me & My Bike

Name: Rory O'Neill

Age: 37

Home: Indianapolis, IN

Occupation: Motocross Manager, Performance Tire Service

“I’ve got a garage full of vintage sportbikes, but my favorite by far is the Suzuki RG500 Gamma I’ve nicknamed ‘Orgy’ [say RG three times, real fast]. It’s a street-legal, 500cc, square-four, two-stroke based on the RG500 Grand Prix racers ridden by the likes of Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini and so many other greats. They were never sold in the U.S., but a few were imported on the gray market. It seems this one was originally a Canadian model—my mate Benko found it for me in Youngstown, Ohio. It had never been registered when I got it. Thanks to some beautifully vague Indiana DMV rules, she is now positively road-legal and registered as an RG500, not a misrepresented GSX-R like most other RGs in this country.

“I love it because it runs on pure, uncut nostalgia. Blipping the throttle instantly takes me back to my childhood in Ireland, when I used to sit in a ditch and watch Joey Dunlop, Eddie Laycock and 40 others battle it out between the hedges on a pack of screaming 500s. I don’t care what my neighbors say: That sound is not noise! And the smell—that’s what heaven is going to smell like when I get there!

“I love riding it on the street because no one knows what it is. Every once in a while, I’ll be sitting at a traffic light and someone will stop to tell me that my bike is burning a lot of oil. ‘Thank God,’ I tell them. ‘If it wasn’t, I’d be in big trouble!’ Those who actually do know what it is seem to enjoy it at least as much as me, and usually start babbling something about Kevin Schwantz as soon as they pick their jaw up off the floor.

“I love that it’s such a pure performance bike; literally a racebike with lights. There’s no pillion, no grab rails, just pure business. There’s no power at all on the bottom, but once that little red needle touches 7000 rpm, it’s like being hit by the hammer of God! I mean, c’mon, it’s a 500 two-stroke. It lets me tap into the ‘mad men and hairy balls’ mythology on every ride! I can barely get my helmet on, my smile’s so big every time I fire it up!”