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The Sport Super Swift was a smart looking lightweight. Finished in blue and silver, with a jelly mould chrome tank, piping to the seat, it sported dropped bars, flyscreen, rear sets and polished alloy guards. Powered by Villers' fairly basic twin cylinder 2T engine, performance was adequate if not sensational, with its four speeds and six inch brakes. In 1964 it gained the midly tuned 4T, and remained in the range until the end In 1966. Ironically, Suzuki's initial UK base was at the rear of the James works.

Above: The T20 sec new standards in road going two-strokes.

Radical and ahead of its time when it was launched in 1960, it appealed to learners limited to 250cc. Based loosely on the German Adler, the Arrow had a single carburettor feeding the piston ported engine with a pre mix fuel oil - hence it was smoky. Nevertheless, it was quite lively and could be made to go exceptionally well. Handicapped by a Burman four speed gearbox and by being under the BSA umbrella, development was stifled and the twin never reached its potential before production was halted in 1966.

Suzuki T20

Two-strokes. Basic, small capacity, proprietory jobs, using a messy pre mix fuel system and leaving a cloud of smelly smoke behind them... enter Suzuki to change all that.

Words by Steve Cooper Photograpahs by Dennis Lodge and Milton Walesby

It's the early 60s and a Japanese upstart company is challenging convention; sceptics might argue that they really should know better but they've had a taste of success and are hungry for more. Not only has the Suzuki Motor Company seen fit to challenge the ever burgeoning might of Honda but now it's really shown its hand by winning Grand Prix races. If the company has managed this via some allegedly nefarious dealings by masterminding Ernst Degner's defection from East Germany's MZ, at least it uses the rider/engineer's expertise to best effect.

Within a short period of time the Japanese company benefits from the knowledge Degner brings with him, via his brilliant mentor, Walter Kaaden and translates it into race track success. All it needs to do now is to design, prototype, develop and build a credible commercial machine, with some of Zchopau's collective knowledge, and the company's future is surely secure.

Until the launch of this month's subject bike the Suzuki Motor Company had been successful but on a limited scale. Although the various factories had been building two-strokes for a number of years and had visited the twin cylinder concept fairly early on with the 1958 Colleda TM 250, the bikes were quirky to look at and nothing particularly exciting from a performance perspective.

The early part of the next decade saw the TM concept revised, modified, tweaked and upgraded but the various machines all still looked a little strange, almost as if paying homage to American 50s cartoon comics, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare et al. Fortunately the stock of slab sided tanks, pressed steel frames and whitewall tyres was being covertly run down while the draughtsmen and designers revised and amended the final pencil stroke that heralded the next generation.

The design taken from the blue prints and passed onto the production team was a machine of such stark simplicity, clarity of vision and blinding obviousness that it was astounding no one had thought of it before. In fact many, or all, of the salient design points had been seen singularly or severally before but no one had the wit, gall, guts, temerity or vision (delete as applicable) to put it all into one package. As the Suzuki T20 was unwrapped at exhibitions and raved about by journalists the world over, the bike buying public couldn't wait to try this ground breaking machine. Dealers around the globe probably never knew what hit 'em. The question remains: why was it so special and what made it a mould breaker?

Eschewing the pressed steel frames that had been the mainstay of the company's efforts up to that point, Suzuki used a welded tubular steel chassis and instantly the bike was visually less bulky and more racer-like. Also impacting on the aesthetics was a tubular steel swinging arm and exposed chain with minimalist guarding used in place of the previous full enclosures. The bulky mudguards that had been a feature of many Japanese machines were also binned and replaced with briefer units, painted silver with a contrasting stripe to match the colour of the tank. Although the tank still carried the contemporary and obligatory chrome panels it was rounded into what would become an almost universal shape.

Above: 'this is Ron Turners superbly restored 1967 Super Six, at the Stonclcigh Japanese Show, in February.

In further homage to racing machinery, the suspension at both ends sported exposed chrome springs and the previous shrouds ^^^^^^ were consigned to history. The heavy headlamp design seen on the TM, TA, TB and TC also got the heave-ho and for the first time a Suzuki 250 ran both a speedo and tacho; in this instance the pair cohabiting in a combined unit that sat neatly in the headlamp. The bike also received top drawer brakes with a serious TLS unit in the front end.

If the chassis tacitly signalled the way ahead for all similar machines then the motor screamed 'this is the future!' It may not look that special nearly half century on but in 1965 it was effectively as revolutionary as Honda's Fireblade or Yamaha's R1 was decades later. It sported an air-cooled motor delivering 29bhp, courtesy of a six-speed gearbox, which really was cutting edge for the time.

Alloy barrels were used in place of cast iron units to both reduce weight and aid heat dispersion and oil was automatically introduced to the motor via Suzuki's much vaunted and technically sophisticated, Posi-Force oil injection system, which delivered lubricant precisely where it was needed, rather than just squirting it into the inlet tracts as per Yamaha. Oil was delivered to the bores, the main bearings and big end bearings and the system immediately became the bench mark for all two-stroke oil injection systems.

Above: 'this is Ron Turners superbly restored 1967 Super Six, at the Stonclcigh Japanese Show, in February.

Horizontally split crankcases were not new in 1965, Honda twins had been using them for years but on a ^^^^^^^ stroker they were still rare birds.

The accepted norm was still to break the cases vertically down the centre line and use a large mating surface. Horizontally split crankcases don't just have to be oil-tight they also have to be sufficiently gas-tight to withstand the pressurising they will experience below the piston as the engine generates the all important primary compression that transfers the mixture to the top end of the motor.

For Suzuki to have gone all out and ultimately produce more than a third of a million T20 variants showed just how well the basic engine was designed. Pegged and grooved main bearing were the future of two-stroke twins and Suzuki was in on the concept from the ground floor.

If all this sounds blindingly obvious with the gift of 21C hindsight, it might be worthwhile to stop and take stock. The Suzuki T20 laid down the basic architecture for the 60s, 70s and 80s seminal two-strokes; even the company's later triples were derivations of the same basic layout. Other manufacturers may have been working along similar lines but the fact remains that Suzuki was first past the post in terms of volume, Japanese manufacture.

Kawasaki's disc valved A1 Samurai was launched the year after the Suzuki and Yamaha's 350 YR1 wasn't available until 1967; the truth is there to see. The bike was sold variously as the X-6, T20 and Hustler depending on market and was soon used In production racing to great success. In fact the bike remains competitive in classic racing today; albeit aided and abetted with four bearing crank from a Yamaha TZ. Perhaps surprisingly the bike was only made for three years (65-67) but it laid such solid foundations that the successor (the T250) still used much of the outgoing machine's donated architecture.

The general ethos held true with the 70s GT250 and it wasn't until halfway through the third generation's life that the model finally received a four bearing crank. Recently one of Suzuki's earliest UK dealers, Eddie Crooks, sadly passed away and this little gem on the T20 was printed within his obituary... In 1968 Eddie raced at Monza, Italy with his team in a bid to beat the 350cc 24 hour world record, this was done on an oversize 250cc Suzuki T20 road bike. The record, an average speed of 91.055mph over a 24 hour period, still stands to this day - testament to the reliability of the Suzuki T20 and the sterling efforts of the record-breaking team of riders. It's amazing to think that the record, having remained untouched for more than 40 years, just how advanced the bike actually was.

Riding a T20 today is a rewarding if slightly contradictory experience. Someone new to the bike might expect an anachronistic device that requires perpetual input, constant adjustment and occasional roadside fettling but this simply is not

Type: Air-cooled two-stroke twin. 54 x 54mm equating to 247cc. Compression ratio

7:1. Suzuki posi-force lubrication system. Output: 29bhp at 7500rpm. Top speed 100mph. Max torque 20ft-lb at 7000rpm.

Acceleration 1/4 mile in 15s. Transmission: six-speed constant mesh gearbox with multiplate wet clutch. Dimensions: Length 76.8in (1950mm). Width 30.1 in (765mm) Height 40.6in (1020mm). Wheelbase 50.4in (1280mm) Ground clearance 6.5in (165mm). Dry weight 297lb (135kg)

the case. It's a reliable and easy starter, accelerates surprisingly well for an old girl, handles better than any machine approaching 50 has any apparent right to, and stops predictably.

In comparison to a modern lightweight sports bike of similar capacity of course the handling is over sprung and under damped. Yes of course the chassis isn't as solid as a cast alloy analogue and obviously the drum brakes are archaic when measured against a multi piston, radial caliper set up. All of which misses the key point by a country mile. Without the Suzuki T20 the 250/350 market might well have been forever locked In a vertically split cul-de-sac.

OK so you might well argue that Yamaha, Kawasaki et al would have had their own versions in time but the fact remains that Suzuki set the format for all forthcoming Jap two-stroke bikes; be grateful and give thanks that they did.

Left: Tommy Robb rook the T20 to several production race successes.

OPPOSITE PAGE Bottom left: Jazzy arrangement of the rev counter and speedo' in the tiny nacelle.

Bottom right: Twin leading shoes on a roadster? Unheard of!

Left: Tommy Robb rook the T20 to several production race successes.

OPPOSITE PAGE Bottom left: Jazzy arrangement of the rev counter and speedo' in the tiny nacelle.

Bottom right: Twin leading shoes on a roadster? Unheard of!

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