is a pile of bits

1976 Suzuki GT250
Gertie Peanut Suzuki

There’s something about two-strokes. I think it’s the sound when they idle, or maybe the smell of that smoke. Whatever it is, I’ve been wanting one of my own ever since Zoe has been hauling around on her Tomos. Fortune lead me to Suzuki’s old GT model line, and as luck would have it, I discovered a listing for a GT250 from 1976. ‘76 was a good year for this bike, they got rid of some crazy cooling devices in favor of more sensible fins on the cylinder, and tweaked the porting and jet sizes to give it more power.

So in December of 2015, I ended up with Gertie Peanut, named thus because of the whole, unshelled, oily, ancient peanut I scooped out of her front sprocket compartment along with around 2 lbs of mud and leaves. I am already in love. She’s the size and weight of Tux, so she handles like a sparrow. While she’s admittedly a limp noodle below 4k RPM, from 6k to 8k she’ll happily lift that front wheel. Six speed gearbox and a twin pair of pipes that sing the ring-ding-ding song of her people. She only had 6k miles on her when she arrived in my driveway. I’ve been hard at work getting her as healthy as I can. She ran after just a spark regapping, but I want her to be better than I found her. So new tires, new sprockets, new chain, new clutch pack, carb rebuild, etc etc.

Work done so far,

  • new clutch pack, originals were rusted and dissolving
  • replaced seat, original seat pan dented badly
  • new intake boots, originals badly chewed up and cracked
  • new oiled foam intake filters, originally missing
  • gas cap replaced, original wouldn’t close and didn’t lock
  • NOS front turn signals, originally missing
  • stainless alan case bolts with zinc antisieze, many original phillips bolts siezed and stripped
  • new tires, Michellin Gazelle
  • new chain
  • new front and rear sprockets, originals were sawtoothed
  • repaired neutral indicator switch, original was cracked, causing oil leak
  • machined front disk with holes for cooling/drainage
  • new front brake pads
  • iridium plugs, originals worked after regapping but why not
  • fully rebuilt carbs, someone had been in there and chewed things up a bit
  • new rear shocks, originals rusty
  • new chain guard, shiny and chrome
  • swapped to 1977 swingarm, original swingarm had the passenger pegs welded on
  • repaired fuse wiring
  • various guage bulbs replaced
  • new handlebars, originals badly bent on left
  • new rider pegs, originals badly bent on right
  • generally cleaned, cleared, and re-lubricated

Still needed,

  • new fenders front and back, originals badly peeling
  • repainting, spotty on tank, peeling on side covers
  • battery bracket, currently zip-ties
  • tool holder, currently missing
  • small dent in tank
  • new headlight bulb, the original is dim
  • new speedo cable, there’s a break in current one

It sounds like a disaster, but it really isn’t. The frame is straight and the engine and oil pump are in good condition. With a battery and regapped plugs she was running on day two (albeit with crooked steering and jerky drive due to a very rusty chain). Currently taking her out for regular rides, slowly easing her into more and more use. That engine has a lot of life to it, and I think the very act of running it cleanly is doing a lot of good. Bikes from that era did dual service as on and off road vehicles, so it makes sense for a bunch of mud to be jammed in all sorts of places, and for various minor bits to be so beaten up. There isn’t evidence of any road-wrecks (asphalt scuffs), but plenty of signs that she’s been down in the mud. I’m a little astonished at how true the wheels are, honestly.

As I write this in February, I’ve had her in my possession for two (wintery) months. I buzz her into town all the time. I’m going to do an early oil change, just to make sure all the things I’m knocking loose can come out clean.

I’d really like to get a pair of Higgspeed pipes on her, but hot damn are they expensive (almost $800 after shipping to the USA). Maybe next year. It would help her be a bit less of a menace to the environment, and reduce fuel consumption a bit. Also, more power, vroom! Tuned exhaust pipes are a big deal for a two-stroke engine.

Need to take a look at the cylinder walls and piston crowns still. I haven’t yet had the head off. Too busy riding, now that she’s running so well.

I think there’s something addictive in two-stroke oil. The exhaust has this wild smell to it that just makes my brain go crazy. I don’t know what it is exactly, but man, that two stroke smoke!