By Tom White
Suzuki’s first venture into motocross started in 1964 with an experimental twin-cylinder, road-race-inspired works machine that appeared at several 250 GPs. Suzuki had dominated 50cc and 125cc road racing in 1963 and felt they were ready to test the waters in motocross. Suzuki sent one of their road racers and two engineers to race the machine at select 250cc GPs. The results were disastrous, but Suzuki came back in 1965 with a single-cylinder model to test alongside an improved twin-cylinder model. By 1966, the twin was dropped and the factory focused on a single-cylinder model dubbed the RH66/67. The RH66 was heavily influenced by the 1964 CZ twin pipe that had carried Joel Robert to the 1964 250cc World Championship.
The RH66/67 looked businesslike, but missed the mark by a wide margin. The power was peaky, handling sub-par and the Suzuki was heavy compared to machines from Husqvarna and CZ. Despite this, in 1968 the factory decided to build 100 production bikes based on the RH67. The machine was called the TM250. Less than 50 were shipped to America, and the machines came with a complete parts kit that included pistons, rings, replacement clutch parts, gearing and carburetor jetting.
The 1968 TM250 was raced in America by Preston Petty, Walt Axthelm and Gary Conrad. During that same season, Suzuki hired GP veteran Olle Pettersson to develop the machine. Literally overnight, Pettersson got significant changes made to the machine. The bore and stroke were changed for better low-end power. The engine was moved forward and a single low pipe replaced the twin high pipes. Pettersson also recommended hiring Joel Robert?and the rest is history!
1968 SUZUKI TM250 FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
The $975 retail price in 1968 made the TM the most expensive 250 sold. Today, the TM250 is the most desirable collector bike around?if a collector is lucky enough (or rich enough) to find one in concourse condition. Pricing starts at $25,000.
The TM250 was the only motocross bike Suzuki made in 1968. If you find a 1969 TM250 (RH68), call the Early Years of Motocross Museum and expect a check for $30,000.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The must-have items for an RH66/67 are twin high pipes (with the factory heat shields), a very unique 38mm Mikuni carburetor, an engine with the clutch on the crankshaft, the ignition coil mounted below the left side of the fuel tank, a beautifully sculptured alloy tank, flat seat and fiberglass rear fender with number plates built in.
Less than 10 1968 TM250s exist today. Brad Lackey is looking for parts to finish his, and Roger DeCoster is looking for a complete machine. They have been looking for years!
For more info on vintage motocross bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com