Skip to content

1976 Suzuki RM370 – Tom Whites Museum

By the early 1970s the manufacturers figures out that increasing the suspension travel on motocross bikes would allow riders to go faster over challenging terrain. Backyard mechanics were cutting the frames and swingarms to allow the shocks to be moved forward and installing cooling fins and heavy springs to help dissipate the extra heat. Fast forward to 1976. The Suzuki engineers went to work and built a completely new machine using everty bit of ingenuity that came from the efforts of backyard mechanics and lessons learned from previous failures. the 1976 Suzuki RM370 was lightweight, the frame was durable, handling was decent, the power was usable, and the suspension travel was over 9 inches. For a Japanese Open bike, it was relatively easy to ride.

Hey dirt bike magazine tom white here with the early years of motocross museum i’d like to show you my collection 122 really important bikes from the ten glory years of motocross to the mid 60’s to the mid 70s when the sport came to america every day once again i’ve got ron loss and dirt bike magazine editor here with me and i know you’ve got some questions

You know there’s a bike that caught my eye back there it just reminds me of the classic roger decoster us gp type of motorcycle crm 3 okay yeah well great you picked a good one this is one that i love to talk about here and what would you like me to share about this bike well for one thing this looks like decoster has gotten decosta written all over it to me

This isn’t exactly what he really raised is he what isn’t you know i think i think they actually called the bike he race was an rh was you know factory buy keep in mind back in the day they didn’t have production rules so they had factory works bike but if you’d look at this motorcycle really very very similar to the works bikes and and you know if you’re a

Privateer racing one of these bikes the these coyote shocks on there they had a factory shock you could purchase a head remote reservoirs on there that a little bit longer travel magic i had one of these bikes this is this is kind of one of the really first serious motocross i’d but likes i bought after my flat track career came to an end al baker made a great

For kit i put that on and i got to tell you looking back in the day this motorcycle was so good the handling performance the whole thing i think suzuki really figured out early on what was gonna work well we mentioned honda got the jump here in 73 four and five but suzuki came out with this in 1976 man they hit it i mean they had a 125 but 250 or 370 and this

Is a great motorcycle this is not the one that i actually owned but it’s very similar and as you can see it’s a it’s unrestored and got very little time on i did put a new tire on there so prior to this i don’t remember suzuki ever having much of a presence in the open class well they did yeah and you’re absolutely right and if you think about it 74 75 that’s

Really when the japanese yamaha came out with a yz250 and 360 b that was a monoshock they came out that was mid 74 they call that got 74 now and then it was the mx 250 and 400 b in 1975 that that was very popular especially with desert razors well when suzuki came out with this 370 obviously they didn’t go to single shock they built something you know absolutely

Clean sheet white sheet of paper and design and they really hit the nail on the head and build a great motorcycle they came up with a bike that you know there was capable of running with and competing well against the makos makos were real popular back then husky still had a pretty good open bike so husqvarna ‘s were were still pretty much in it – it was yamaha

And then suzuki not so much kawasaki and really on the open side honda didn’t didn’t really have an open bike quite yet they had a decent 250 but this to me this this this this bike in the open class especially for a japanese offering this was the best bike so there’s a period there when bikes were really short travel and then single-shot bikes came later and

This falls into that in-between time yeah was the suspension actually pretty good for the time it was really good really good and especially if you put the like i said the coyote shocks the the factory shocks that came with a remote reservoir the settings on some it was magic in my opinion because i had both way better than the mono shock it worked it was super

Super good so yeah it was great you know that that whole long travel came about in just a short couple of years really 74 when people started figuring out travel was good and started hacking them this is a fresh design here the frame is triangulated and all that so it really supports the treble and i want to thank the travel is around 11 inches well i mean work

It we came up a little bit more like that to 12 inches but but the travel was good on the bike and and the motor they really did a great job on the motor because the power was very tractable and that’s one thing especially when an open mic you want to have a motor that it kind of feeds the power on linear and with the 370 they get it maybe wasn’t as powerful as

The yamaha 400 it wasn’t as powerful as the makos but the type of power it produced was user friendly and even the best pro riders hands i seem to remember early in this period these bikes being everywhere i don’t know what the numbers were but it seems to me like this had a huge huge impact on local racing like it every every level of it did and it was good

For the aftermarket too because he had a lot of the companies there that did that really especially by especially the 250s and the 125s you know but the it was really good for the aftermarket i had mentioned that mine i put the el baker fort kid on the thing and that was popular you know people were putting other types of shocks on another you know people would

Change the pipes the aftermarket i mean even back in the day fmf had pipes for the thing quite a few of the other companies closed-circuit hadn’t really come to light yet but they came shortly after a great motorcycle and this was good for a few years and then they a few years later they came out with a bike that was great that was 81 with a floater we could talk

About that another time so this particular example did you get it in original condition i did it’s original and this guy calls me and he goes you know i’ve got a really nice rm 370 and i want $3,000 for it look guy so we’ll bring it over let me look at it i looked at it and it’s just like this the only idea i put a new rear tire on the thing yeah and that’s

Again that for a collector and the more i’ve gotten into this collector world its original unrestored as best i had to do over again i probably wouldn’t even a replace the rear tire but but it’s it’s very nice and you know it’s in a way it’s sad i mean the guy i bought this great motorcycle a part hardly any time on sad for him great for me well once again tom

I really appreciate his real treat to look at some of these bikes this one in particular i had a 400 a few years after this and i don’t know how many hours i put it on that thing but it i wrote it into the ground oh good i’m glad you enjoyed this bike you know i have more okay i’m knocking forward to it you you

Transcribed from video
1976 Suzuki RM370 – Tom White's Museum By Dirtbike Magazine