﹒Never offered for sale on the open market ﹒1982 TT Racer and North-West 200 winner ﹒A real once in a life-time opportunity
Towards the end of the 1970s, large capacity four-stroke motorbike racing saw a resurgence in popularity, not least because of the abundance of Japanese manufacturers now selling affordable four-pot performance road bikes.
The origins of the XR69 date back to 1976 when Pops Yoshimura approached Suzuki for help with his GS750 based racer. This arrangement suited Suzuki perfectly as they possessed little knowledge of high performance four-stroke engines, while Yoshimura’s development work freed up the resources of the already stretched Grand Prix race department, and gave them competitive four-stroke race machines in the process, based on the roadgoing GS1000 model.
Yoshimura soon found that the power they had unleashed form its engine, suggested to be around 130bhp, was surpassing the road frame’s capabilities by a huge amount, so Suzuki began using parts from its GP frame to transform the bike into a proper racer.
A steel tube frame, similar in appearance to the XR23 racer, was wrapped around the four-cylinder air-cooled engine, with GP spec rear suspension and forks.
The XR69 made its competitive debut at the start of 1980 and was an instant hit, rising to the challenge of – and often beating – the Honda CB900s that had dominated the field. As well as being a successful circuit racer, the Suzuki was a great road racing bike and knocked Honda off its perch in TT racing as well.
This is an incredible opportunity to acquire a one-off, genuine, works superbike – directly from the man who raced it!
Yes, you did read that correctly and if you’re a fan of classic bike racing then Mick Grant won’t need much in the way of introduction.
The softly spoken Yorkshireman is a legend in road racing and participated in every single Isle of Man TT race from 1970 to 1984, winning the iconic contest seven times.
He was presented with this bike – the XR69 on which he competed the 1982 TT and won the North-West 200 the same year – as a gift from Suzuki when he retired from competitive racing in 1985. The bike is exactly as Mick received it, wearing its Heron Suzuki works racing colours and Mick’s number 10 racing roundel, which was his trademark of the era.
Mick has owned the bike since his retirement but has decided to part with it due to it not being used, other than for a few parade events.
The bike has never been sold on the open market before, so this is a rare opportunity to own a one-off piece of incredible motorbike racing history and to buy it directly from the man himself.
As the bike has never been used on the road, it has never been registered so comes with no specific papers.
However, there’s a huge amount of documented history around the XR69 including photos of Mick racing it and a video shot in 1982 of the 1982 Isle of Man TT by Shell Oil for promotional use.
It also features in Issue 49 of Classic Racer magazine where legendary bike journalist Alan Cathcart tested it. Interviewed in the Classic Racer article, Mick said: 'It's pretty near the top of my personal hit parade of bikes I've raced. I think my all-time favourite would be my KR750 Kawasaki, but nowadays when I parade them back to back at Classic dos and such, I prefer to be on the Suzuki. It's just a very nice ride.'
The bike is exactly as it is when it was retired from competition and given to Mick, so while there are a few small marks and scuffs each tells a story. The stone chips on the fairing, or the worn paint ahead of the saddle, are all indicators of this bike’s racing history.
It’s still in great condition overall and wears all of its original sponsors’ logos including Team Heron Suzuki, Shell Oil, Champion, Dunlop and Sonic Intercoms.
Micks says: “My full factory XR69 has been in my possession since I retired from racing in 1985. It is the exact specification as when I raced it. It was given to me by Suzuki. To the best of my knowledge there were only five or six of the special bikes made. For some reason my bike seems to be the best specification of them all, it has a dry clutch, magnesium carburettors, billet forks and twin sparking plugs.
“I only know of two others that still exist, one is an ex-Roger Marshall bike with a collector in Ireland, and the other is an early twin-shock XR built for Graham Crosby.
“This machine is in very good mechanical and working condition. In the past I've demonstrated this machine in South Africa and at Oliver's Mount, Spa Francorchamps, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park.
'It is a lovely bike to ride and still feels as fresh as when I was racing it. On this bike I had lap records and second places in the Isle of Man. I won the North West 200 on it, set the lap record Donington Park and came second in the Macau GP.”
The 1,000cc engine is based on the standard GS1000 but has a number of race specific parts. The forks are billeted, for example while all of the nuts, bolts and brackets that hold it together are made from either magnesium or titanium, with each component developed with weight-saving in mind and hand-finished by race engineers.
It as a dry clutch, magnesium carburettors and twin spark plugs per cylinder.
Mick reports that it is in full working order and that he keeps it well-maintained despite not using it much.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a famous racing bike that has never been owned by a collector or private owner before. It has only ever been owned by the Suzuki works race team and by Mick Grant himself, who (aside from the support crew and Alan Cathcart) is the only person who has ever ridden it.
While it was offered for auction once, the bike didn’t sell and has therefore never been sold on the open market before. It’s a truly unique thing, a real collector’s piece and a part of world bike racing history that has an incomparable pedigree.
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