Concours d'Elegance Motorcycle Spotlight

Rare Suzuki dirtbike will break cover at Saturday morning bike show

There are dozens of incredible classic motorcycles — restored and original — coming to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Concours d’Elegance bike show on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa. The perennial gathering includes machines that have helped write history, and this year is no exception.

Several of those bikes are not just classic motorcycles, they also have a special place in motorcycling history. This Suzuki RH68, owned by Chris Carter, is one such motorcycle.

The bike, which will be part of the Concours d’Elegance bike show, was raced by Motorcycle Hall of Famer Don Emde. We wanted to know more, so we asked Don to put together a few memories about this bike. Here’s the story:

My memories of a Suzuki RH68 By Don Emde

Chris Carter’s Suzuki RH68 is a very rare motorcycle from the early stages of Suzuki’s development of motocross bikes in the late-1960s. The 250cc RH68 was made prior to Suzuki’s entry into Grand Prix MX racing that ultimately saw them win world titles in both the 250cc and 500cc classes and only a handful were brought to the United States.

My father, Floyd Emde, was a leading Suzuki dealer in the San Diego area at the time and I was having great success on a Suzuki twin-pipe TM250 in Amateur TT races in District 38. The management at American Suzuki Motor Corp. became more and more supportive of my race program with each victory we were recording on the TM250, so when the company got its hands on the new RH68 in 1968, they contacted my father and arranged for me to race the new bike.

This new model looked similar to the TM250 with the exception it now had a single exhaust pipe. It was actually a very different bike with a longer frame and a completely redesigned engine with a different bore and stroke. It was more powerful than its predecessor, but for TT it was much harder to ride. The power band was very narrow and when it came on, the power was not all useable. So the result was that I did not do as well compared to the TM250.

But the RH68 became the platform for the ongoing development of Suzuki motocross models by Swedish rider Olle Petteresson. The power band problem was later corrected on the next model, the RH69, and the company further developed the bike into a world beater when top stars Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert and Sylvain Geboers were hired in 1970.

It is a great honor for me to have this Suzuki that I had previously raced in Chris Carter’s collection of vintage and historic motorcycles.
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