The Suzuki GT380

Under the radar

| March/April 2007

Suzuki GT380
Years produced:
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 38hp @ 7,500rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 95mph
Engine type: 371cc, air-cooled two-stroke inline triple
Transmission: Six-speed
Weight (w/half-full tank): 178kg (392lb)
MPG: 32-46
Price then: $925 (1972)
Price now: $900-$2,000

Remember back when you could still buy a brand new, out of the crate, street-legal two-stroke motorcycle? Those were the days … Nixon was president, Vietnam was a raging mess, and … wait. What was so great about those days again? Ah, yes. The motorcycles.

Although two-stroke engines are rare in new motorcycles today, back in 1972 the Suzuki GT380 was one of a handful of two-strokes sitting on the sales floor at your local Suzuki dealership. The younger sibling of Suzuki’s landmark water-cooled GT750 “Water Buffalo” (introduced in 1971), the three-cylinder GT380 Sebring was introduced to the U.S. market in 1972 along with the bigger GT550. The GT380 landed right in the middle of the 350cc-400cc field, one of the most hotly contested displacement categories of the day.

Sporty, but not sportingThe original 1972 Sebring arrived as a fairly sporty motorcycle, but only to a point. Though the competing Kawasaki triples were known as rockets, the Suzuki GT engines were tuned more for smoothness and reliability than peak power. The odd three-into-four pipes and the rigid foot pegs limited cornering clearance, and while predictable, comfortable and smooth at touring speeds, when pushed hard it wobbled in corners due to its limited suspension and a tube frame that could have been stiffer. This was not a track bike.

The air-cooled GTs shared Suzuki's new Ram Air System, which forced cool air to pass through the cylinders and behind the block when the bike was in motion, preventing the engine from losing power due to high cylinder head temps. Unfortunately, the GT triples still developed a reputation for seizing their middle pistons.

The GTs also featured Suzuki’s refined automatic fuel and oil mixing system, called CCI, which helped lower exhaust smoke levels. The GTs also were the first in the Suzuki line to feature vacuum-operated petcocks, a feature that was later used on all of Suzuki’s bikes.

1/22/2016 12:49:49 PM

With great excitement I bought my first bike in 1973 which happened to be a blue 380 GT Suzuki. I remember my father going guarantor for me to get a loan from Custom Credit for $970 - boy what a debt that was!!! My father was disgusted. He also felt I should be buying a cheaper second hand bike- not the shiniest bike in the Newcastle showroom. I remember riding the bike back home through Newcastle traffic with my heart in my mouth and with great trepidation. I had it equipped with back and front crash bars just to be safe and in its lifetime I never once dropped the bike. I also remember fixing red reflective tape all over the bike. I was a real poser! The bike brought me much joy, as a commuter to uni daily and for longer trips to Qld etc. When it was running well it was as smooth as silk but I had a few dark moments when the centre plug continually oiled up or I scraped the centre stand or foot pegs. It also tended to wobble a bit with the not- so-rigid frame. But I really enjoyed the Suzi. Now I ride a Kawasaki W800- a vastly superior bike- but we are living in the 21st century.

8/4/2015 3:39:56 PM

Sorry for the typo. I didn't proof-read. Should read buddy not bubby.

8/4/2015 3:29:23 PM

I purchased a GT 380 new in 1973.I put 7500 miles on that summer with the highlight being a trip out east to the Cabot trail.My bubby had the GT 550 ( swine!) and we cruised all day @ 70 mph.All we did was add injector oil and fuel.I did however crack the center piston when it overheated coming back from work...stop & go traffic.Otherwise,an excellent machine,especially for it's displacement.Felt like I was on a cruiser.

bike on highway

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