$6,490 2008 HONDA DN-01 (NSA700)
NSW | 33,674Kms
JUST Bikes 21/09/2010
First released in 1965, the T20 moved Suzuki’s two stroke offerings from commuter firmly into the sports bike arena.
Sure, it was only a 250cc, but being a two stroke meant it had plenty of ‘snap-on’ acceleration that could propel the double cradle-framed roadster to a top speed of over 150km/h. The demand for more performance came largely from the USA, which accounted for more than 50 per cent of Suzuki’s overseas sales in the early 1960s. The new model soon came to be appreciated by enthusiasts the world over and apocryphal tales have suggested the T20’s performance was so good (or ‘bad’ in this instance!) it was responsible for dropping the capacity limit for learner bikes in the UK from 250cc to 125cc.
While it’s generally believed the T20 grew out of the T10, the two are quite different motorcycles pitched at different buyers, despite looking similar and sharing a number of components. The T10 debuted in 1963 and was Suzuki’s first 250cc twin to be exported in any quantity. The frame was Suzuki’s standard pressed steel backbone type, with a 246cc two stroke that produced around 21 bhp, driven through a four speed ’box. The fully-shrouded chaincase, shrouded front forks, electric starter, abundance of chrome and other normally optional items fitted as standard indicated the sort of “luxury” market the T10 was trying to appeal to.
The T20, however, was created as a sports bike from the outset. 15kg was shaved off the 150kg weight of the T10 through the use of an all-alloy engine and the removal of ‘unnecessary’ items like the electric starter, fork shrouds, chaincase shroud and carby covers. The weight-shedding, along with the new frame, revised engine design and more sports-oriented handlebars, translated into a bike that handled better and was more enjoyable to ride at speed. The T20’s twin carbs were bigger 24mm Mikuni units and brakes were bigger too; 200mm ‘racing type’ drums, compared to the 165mm units on the T10. Suzuki also premiered a six speed transmission on the T20, at a time when most manufacturers were still using no more than four speeds. This unique feature further defined the T20’s performance orientation and proved to be a major selling point. Early buyers identified fourth gear as the new transmission’s weak link, to which Suzuki quickly responded by making available an upgrade kit. A pump lubrication system, dubbed ‘Posi Force’ also made its first appearance in a Suzuki on the T20.
Visually, the T10’s distinctive chrome tank sides remained, accented by either black, metallic red or metallic blue paint. The single gauge mounted in the plastic headlight nacelle featured a half-moon speedo and tacho, as well as neutral and high beam warning lights. The typically “early-Japanese” styling, which had been partly blamed for poor sales of the T10, was forgiven with the T20, as both road riders and racers alike came to appreciate its qualities.
The T20 enjoyed some genuine racing success, too, especially in the UK. In the Production class at the 1967 Isle of Man TT, Aussie riders Barry Smith and Kel Carruthers finished third and fifth respectively. A number of impressive performances in circuit and endurance events throughout Europe followed.
As the T20s offered more performance than the T10s, they are generally considered more collectable. Also, as with a lot of early Japanese bikes, the styling that was so “weird” when new now has a quirky retro appeal that is growing amongst enthusiasts.
SPECS - 1966 Suzuki T20 Hustler
Engine 247cc parallel twin two stroke
Bore/Stroke 54 x 54mm
Power/Torque 29bhp @ 7500rpm / NA
Fuel system 2 x 24mm Mikuni carbs
Cooling system Air
Transmission/Drive 6 speed manual/chain drive
Front Brake 200mm alloy drum, twin leading shoe
Rear Brake 200mm alloy drum, single leading shoe
Front Tyre 2.75 x 18
Rear Tyre 3.00 x 18
Dry Weight 135kg
Seat Height 762mm
Ground Clearance 165mm
Fuel Capacity 14lt
Following on from the success of the T20 road bike came a trail version, the TC250, which was essentially a T20 with a raised, Scrambler-style exhaust.
At the time of its release, the T20 was the only volume production motorcycle in the world with a six speed gearbox. Advertising at the time highlighted this with the slogan “when the rest run out of stick, shift into sixth!”
Like many Japanese motorcycles, the T20 was given different names for different markets. In Japan it was known as the Super Sport, early UK-release models were called the Super Six, while in the USA the T20 was known as the X6. The ‘Hustler’ suffix, while strictly a US-market label, has been retrospectively applied to most T20s.
Source: JUST BIKES, September 2010, Issue #255
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