Rotary Engine Motorcycle? 1975 Suzuki RE5 - Jay Leno's Garage

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Jay Leno's Garage

Ай мурун

This misunderstood motorcycle boasts an incredibly smooth rotary engine but was not a commercial success due to many factors that you'll learn about in this episode!
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Hosted by legendary comedian and “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, the series explores our obsession with all things automotive. From classic cars to supercars and everything in-between, Jay is hitting the road to discover the most exciting, weird and wonderful vehicles ever made and meet the passionate people behind their wheels. Each one-hour themed episode features a mix of stunts, challenges, reviews, and celebrity interviews that showcases the colorful history of the automobile. Whether he’s exploring the story of an iconic brand, road-testing the newest super car, or investigating the latest automotive innovations, there is no wheel Jay won’t get behind to tell the story of our love affair with the car.
About Jay Leno: Acclaimed TV late night show host, admired stand-up comedian, best-selling children’s book author, much-in-demand corporate speaker, lovable TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, and philanthropist…it’s no wonder that Jay Leno is widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.”
Rotary Engine Motorcycle? 1975 Suzuki RE5 - Jay Leno's Garage
Jay Leno's Garage

rednebmb 13 саат мурун
Hey Jay, almost as smooth as a CBX with carbs set right!
rednebmb 13 саат мурун
Jay Leno shop teacher. Wankel cutaway.
Bread Sandwich
Bread Sandwich 2 күн мурун
You got me with this one. Fascinating.
James Fiegel
James Fiegel 2 күн мурун
Jay aren't you a Republican? YOUR PARTY LOVES NAZIS IN ALL FORMS ;( It was designed for airplanes.
Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith 4 күн мурун
The German motorcyle magazine did a review back then of the Suzuki GT750 ans the RE5. They wrote "if you want to have a rock solid strong big bike go for the GT750. If you rather ride the country on a white ekephant, the RE5 it is". I have both of them. Love them both.
Donn DIY
Donn DIY 5 күн мурун
Really beautiful bike.
uNkLeRaRa4 7 күн мурун
It takes way too long for some things to finally be appreciated for what they are
bigliftm 7 күн мурун
love this bike @jay ? do you read all the comments ? if so : how much sucking up is neccacerry to talk you into having me look arround in your garage ? And after that how about driving " the snake " afterwards together ? sorry for asking its just on my bucket list 😁👍
kjm 1955
kjm 1955 7 күн мурун
Had one of these, imported it from California to UK, most people told me you couldn't kick start them, it was possible but only when warm not cold, also big problem with mixture setting, would only run smooth on partial choke. Still it was nice to own one.
Eric Richards
Eric Richards 8 күн мурун
Would love to have Jay do an episode on Suzuki's water buffalo series of triple two strokes. They were always overshadowed by Kawasaki triples, but was that a deserved reputation?
Scott A
Scott A 8 күн мурун
I have one in my garage but haven't started it in 20 years. Hope sitting didn't kill it. Need to get rid of it so suppose
Charles Aay
Charles Aay 8 күн мурун
I test rode an RE5 in 1975 or so (I was 23 then), and had owned 3 piston Suzuki's before then, and owned a '72 GT550J (3 lung, 2 stroke). I rode it for a couple hours, and like Jay, I was astounded at the at the Singer Sewing Machine type smoothness. Zero mirror blur at any rpm. Decent acceleration and handling, but the price was well out of my reach. It was literally priced in the Harley Super Glide area. Great video by are all of his vids
Nick Gurr
Nick Gurr 8 күн мурун
Jay and others will always support NASA though when it was CREATED BY NAZIS. But hate on Wankle Google: *operation paperclip*
Mac-Hil Caalim - Abing
Mac-Hil Caalim - Abing 8 күн мурун
Sir, Can you review the Kawasaki Z1000r please. because i really want you to try that bike. 😊👍👍
Warren 9 күн мурун
There is one in the Suzuki Museum in Hamamatsu. I visited last Spring. This is first time to hear one or see one on the road. Thanks so much :)
mihai 11 күн мурун
Alternatively buy a Enfield bullet - EVERYTHING is super smooth after l ride mine! Thanks for the chance to learn about what an interesting bike this was/is 👍
David Efland
David Efland 12 күн мурун
I was 18 then. I do remember the water buffalo he mentioned. 2 guys where l lived had the water buffaloes they were pretty fast would bark the tire when shifting gears.
Derek Schwendeman
Derek Schwendeman 13 күн мурун
I know this is a strange detail to comment on, but the sound that the gauge pod made when it shut was really nice.
Scott Miller
Scott Miller 13 күн мурун
Water cooled motorcycles were unusual in those days. I recall water-cooling was kind of exotic when it appeared on Ninjas in the mid-80s.
Anthony 15 күн мурун
My youtube review! I am trying to grow and it means a lot to me thanks!
Donfleebie1 17 күн мурун
We used to do Sunday group rides back in the day, and one guy had one of these. We made him ride in the back because they burned oil, and the fumes were unbearable.
Maximus manson
Maximus manson 17 күн мурун
you forgot the norton F1
Baloodini 18 күн мурун
Ha that's like me with the kitchen, I'm building a vintage snowmobile engine in my kitchen right now. In fact the vintage Arctic Cat guys like their wankel powered 70's snowmobiles because they are rootin' tootin' snow machines that oink.
rixstar100 18 күн мурун
Sweet bike!! I want to ride it Jay!!!!!
Kit Carson
Kit Carson 18 күн мурун
Any temperature in the 50°’s is downright right comfy!
Aberdeen Belfry
Aberdeen Belfry 19 күн мурун
Beautiful bike
Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly 20 күн мурун
I had one a very short time I purchased at a garage sale for 50 dollars
Rob Ott
Rob Ott 20 күн мурун
I like how jay couldnt figure out the name of what the rotary engines "piston" would be.
Ashwin Pegasus
Ashwin Pegasus 21 күн мурун
This motorcycle was made for a particular set of people, may be the set was too small to keep it alive. I liked it anyway. It really stands out. This is how a collector’s motorcycle should be. And Jay, thanks for popping the gauge cluster hood thrice! I love that mechanism.
Douglas Ward
Douglas Ward 21 күн мурун
We were stupid...but bought the GT750....which was pretty smart....sorta
rgadave 21 күн мурун
Love your motorcycle videos Jay but how come you've never included a Laverda Jota 980cc bike, an iconic '70's superbike ?
Heart of Texas Barn Finds and Classic's
Heart of Texas Barn Finds and Classic's 22 күн мурун
Cool Bike
Bert 22 күн мурун
I loved it drove one, especially I love the water buffalo.
quietguy 22 күн мурун
I bought a new, 1975 Honda CB 550 4, loved it. But I shoulda got the venerable 750.
Rob M
Rob M 23 күн мурун
I can’t believe Jay has this bike. Suzuki doesn’t really fit in with all those high end cars and motorcycles. But I guess this is why I like Jay. How did Suzuki handle the o-ring lubrication issues inherent to the rotary engines?
David abott
David abott 23 күн мурун
I always enjoy listening to Jay Leno he's a book of knowledge on car's 🚗 and motorcycles 🏍 thank's Jay
RideCamVids 24 күн мурун
Thanks for re-posting an updated video of your RE5 Jay, I was hoping you would do this one day. I have a 75 in the firemist blue and its a great bike and as you said, hated and misunderstood by many, but loved by those who own them.
Jon 24 күн мурун
A very disappointing explanation of how a rotary engine works.
Prof. Hector Holbrook
Prof. Hector Holbrook 24 күн мурун
LOVELY! Always wanted one in the late 70s. Got their "Flying Kettle" GT750 instead. But that only did 28mpg; achieved 90mph in 3rd, but only 110mph (tops) in 5th. Handled dreadfully too. But your RE5 looks splendid.... Best wishes from the UK.
J S 24 күн мурун
"You just don't expect it to be so turbine like", says the man who actually owns a Turbine bike.
Feminism is Cancer
Feminism is Cancer 25 күн мурун
bikers tend to judge each other (low key), NOBODY wants to accidentally buy the gay bike.
martin martin
martin martin 25 күн мурун
Jay you will impress me if you get your hands on a Yamaha 720 Rz 201.
Anthony Laroux
Anthony Laroux 25 күн мурун
Jay, do you have a Wooler flat four? Need a vid on this. RideApart: Cycleweird: The Wooler Flat Four.
Tobias C.
Tobias C. 25 күн мурун
Jay knows the brand: "Herkules" ... wow!
goog le
goog le 26 күн мурун
I remember when the GL1000 Honda came out and Honda was touting how smooth the engine was and you could stand a nickle up on it. I wonder if this bike is that smooth. Nice looking bike. The 70's Suzuki's were a good looking line of bikes. 2 stroke and 4 stroke
Master Cylinder
Master Cylinder 26 күн мурун
I’d be lucky to get to ride a water buffalo!
Master Cylinder
Master Cylinder 26 күн мурун
Didn’t Van Veem make a rotary?
Dave Hogye
Dave Hogye 27 күн мурун
"I'm gonna smooth out of here" . That just says it all. Thanks for sharing this fine and ultra rare machine. The suspension looks to be set up perfectly for you and also looks very "smooth". The exhaust is especially interesting. I noticed the intakes and I'm glad you explained that feature. The dash and tail light are equally interesting. There is simply nothing else that compares.
Sammy Snead
Sammy Snead 27 күн мурун
If an idling Dyna Harley doesn't touch your heart, then you should just go Electric.....
M. Mooverssr
M. Mooverssr 27 күн мурун
Rotary is just a bad design
M. Mooverssr
M. Mooverssr 27 күн мурун
Looks like a water buffalo
T5 Delta Bangalore
T5 Delta Bangalore 28 күн мурун
This is a YAKUSA bike...
Tjay66 28 күн мурун
Beautiful bike
Alex Brown
Alex Brown 28 күн мурун
I rode one back in the day and really liked it. Very smooth and it cruised amazingly. Felt like it was firing every second lampost. Interesting trivia about them - when you opened the throttle you were pulling 5 cables - can't remember what they all did, but one operated the special oil pump that meted out the cylinder lubrication. Hate to think what that would cost to replace.....
whalesong999 28 күн мурун
Omgosh, I would've been one of the "re5 guys" back in the day. Set-up for delivery was crucial to get the double throat carburetor synchronized for the transition from the smaller bore to the larger secondary one for proper response. There was a special protractor that was used to get the adjustments precise. Once dialed in, it was pretty much fine from then on unless someone would tamper with a unit which didn't happen in our shop. Last one I worked on was in the early '90s when someone heard I could tune one and it was half way across the country from the one I'd worked at originally in N.Y. state.
Jason i love oz
Jason i love oz 28 күн мурун
So i told her not to worry ill have a wankle ,its quicket
Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield 28 күн мурун
Lovely, lovely bike. First saw one in Leeds, UK, in 1979 when I went to buy spares for my Suzi GT250 (which I still have).
Michael Hartzell
Michael Hartzell 28 күн мурун
I like the new to me camera view. Makes you seem more comfortable talking about the bike, like you'd talk to your friends . Great video, and back then they WERE ugly.
jimmyjackass 28 күн мурун
Buddy has one it's mint. He builds old Suke 2 strokes. He did my 73 GT185
Lawrence Jones
Lawrence Jones 29 күн мурун
My dad bought one of these when they came out. He questioned why the fan never came on. They asked him to bring it in and he got a warmed up Z1 as a loaner. My dad took me for a ride and because of that experience I fell in love with Kawasaki and the Z1. Be was always one for innovative design.
Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson 29 күн мурун
The maintenance issue with many owners is something I’ve never understood. For those of us that got our first car in the late 60s/early 70s, they were normally clunkers that either you stayed on top of maintenance or enjoyed walking. Having conducted teen driving schools for years, I am always appalled at the number of kids that don’t even know how to open the hood or check tire pressure…..and even more appalled when their accompanying parent don’t have a clue either. More than a few parents stated that they’d have to take the car to the dealer when I showed them low oil or low tire pressure on their vehicle…..and sometimes wouldn’t let me properly inflate a dramatically low tire, thinking that required trained dealer personnel. Personally I think hands-on car maintenance should be a requirement as part of every state’s driving test.
jack 29 күн мурун
I had a 75 RE5, and I knew 4 of the previous owners. I would get questions, wherever I drove I, asking "What the hell is that?" The cylindrical instrument panel, was also neat. I could kick start it, but it took
jack 29 күн мурун
a special touch. I miss that old bugger!
randy duncan
randy duncan 29 күн мурун
john carrington
john carrington 29 күн мурун
Jay you amazing getting 18 minuets talking about that bike..
Brett Harland
Brett Harland 29 күн мурун
All i need to know is, is this bike smooth?
VVG 916
VVG 916 29 күн мурун
Review the Lincoln Town car next to you at the signal towards the end, and even the older boxy one. Along with some Crown Vic's.
Fingloi Delos reyes
Fingloi Delos reyes 29 күн мурун
Is it just me who twitched when he put that engine block and the studs poking the leather seat? Twice...
Jeeves Beats
Jeeves Beats 29 күн мурун
Its a shame manufacturers don't make rotarys anymore
Brian Critchley
Brian Critchley 29 күн мурун
I rode a couple of these in my youth, to be honest they were boring.
Duncan Barriball
Duncan Barriball 29 күн мурун
Road a new one at the Suzuki shop i worked at in 76 ,smooth and better handling than all other big fours , but a tad long in the wheel base, the mikuni carb was a night mare , and many owners had problems after not running them for 4/6 months ,the tip seals on one corner (that was depressed)would gum up and cause the loss of compression to motor , and would not start ,resulting in a very expensive tear down and rebuild, ,
Nz540i M
Nz540i M Ай мурун
I think there’s late 80s/90s wankel bike too. Possibly kawasaki. There’s one in a collection in my city
MC Fuller
MC Fuller Ай мурун
Are they still making these bikes ? Enough said, and only SISSY BOYS wear helmets.
RockstarBruski Ай мурун
Never heard of a rotary motorcycle! Learned something new today! Very cool motorcycle!
William Bartholomew
William Bartholomew Ай мурун
I think if the gauges and lights were more traditional 70s Suzuki parts I'd be all over that bike, I love bikes with chiseled tanks with matching seats, and complimenting side covers (like V45 Sabres, VT500 Ascots, etc). I'm not a fan of wankles for the reasons why they didn't thrive but to have such a unique piece of motorcycle history would be an honor.
neighborsgoat Ай мурун
That bike might be smooth & everything; yet the sound it makes reminds me of a spoon left on a plate on top of a washing machine in spinning mode.
neighborsgoat Ай мурун
@mr Gundersen Not related to coolness or non coolness; it's just like some bike parts are very loose and are about to fall off.
mr Gundersen
mr Gundersen Ай мурун
You are so right! Boring sound... I was young in 1975 the bike did not sell because noby thought it was cool... Non of the cool people for sure....
Bob DeCardenas
Bob DeCardenas Ай мурун
Had an RE5 and loved it! Traded in for a 1200 Katana. Still have the owners manual
Al Ай мурун
Can i go for a ride on it please?
Deadwood21+ Ай мурун
Yes Jay, biker is conservative people. They choose 2 wheels instead of 4 wheels because it's too futuristic.
Bill Allen
Bill Allen Ай мурун
I have a 75 that I was building to go to Bonneville salt flats with, but became disabled in September of 03 .... now it just sit's....from Wyoming USA 🔫🤠🇺🇸p.s stay safe
Shaun Victor
Shaun Victor Ай мурун
The Japanese are great designers and engineers,and not afraid to test new ideas.
Christo Guichard
Christo Guichard Ай мурун
I remember these going around the streets when I was a kid.
Society is Pathetic Death is Magnetic
Society is Pathetic Death is Magnetic Ай мурун
Lean something new every day.
Forza Drive
Forza Drive Ай мурун
What a great iconic bike. Props to Suzuki for for such a great bike even though it never took off.
Tejas Auto Salon Jason W.
Tejas Auto Salon Jason W. Ай мурун
Its Definitely one of my bucket list items, riding a Wenkel powered bike, picking Jay's brain for at least a week, and restoring a 1st gen Targa 911.
Keith Mceuen
Keith Mceuen Ай мурун
What ever the claimed displacement of a rotary engine triple it because it’s really a 3 cylinder using a common combustion chamber
Sander Van der Kammen
Sander Van der Kammen Ай мурун
Excellent comment.
Julya Maxfield
Julya Maxfield Ай мурун
Too bad they didn’t put a turbo or a supercharger on it
jw '46
jw '46 Ай мурун
I want one.
Raw Bacon
Raw Bacon Ай мурун
Overpriced, low mpg and uses oil.......Pretty much a recipe for failure.
Ro Jo
Ro Jo Ай мурун
That $ .75 price jump for gas in 1975 is the equivalent of $3.41 in 2021, so not a small increase.
Beach Boy
Beach Boy Ай мурун
Odd thing is, Norton had a go on it for a long time.
Sander Van der Kammen
Sander Van der Kammen Ай мурун
Norton also went bankrupt.
Boom King76
Boom King76 Ай мурун
It’s sexy and different! But I’m a sucker for those old bikes. Never rode one just love the way they look.
Juan Sequeira Baquero
Juan Sequeira Baquero Ай мурун
A Jay Lenos Garage episode is not over till the lats beep beep!
Skywatch Ай мурун
Occasionally companies will try something different. Think Yam gts1000, Yam niken, Van veen ocr1000, Bimota tesi etc. In order to succeed they must be better than a 'conventional' motorcycle, and be competitive on price, otherwise you have only a small 'niche' market. People generally don't change, it frightens them.
Sander Van der Kammen
Sander Van der Kammen Ай мурун
@Skywatch All Wankel engines use the 4-stroke operating principle. Rotary type engines basically were obsolete before the Wankel engine was introduced. Reliability and efficiency issues plagued the Wankel.
Skywatch Ай мурун
@Sander Van der Kammen The wankel/rotary engine is little more than a glorified two stroke engine. Smooth and powerfull with appalling economy and reliabillity. The Nsu Ro80, nice car. Owners would dump the wankel motor and replace it with a 'conventional' ford V4. Mazda Rx7, exiting to drive, when it's working.
Sander Van der Kammen
Sander Van der Kammen Ай мурун
@Skywatch Manufacturers lost billions of dollars developing Wankel engines that never generated any profit from the massive investment... Mazda went bankrupt twice because of financial losses related to the Wankel engine.
Skywatch Ай мурун
@Sander Van der Kammen Norton Nemesis 1500 V8. Amazing looking machine. But would it bring financial sucess to the struggling company? Benelli only sold 3200 ohc 750 sixes. Honda sold half a million 'conventional' ohc 750 fours. Bimota V-due anyone?
Sander Van der Kammen
Sander Van der Kammen Ай мурун
Bankruptcy tends to frighten manufacturers... Norton went bankrupt building Wankel engines, several other companies went bankrupt because of the Wankel too.. Mazda went bankrupt twice!
Gerrit-Jan Rebel
Gerrit-Jan Rebel Ай мурун
Hi Jay, did you ever hear about the Van Veen 2 disks Wankel?
Kevin Kirsch
Kevin Kirsch Ай мурун
There were also Wankle engine powered snow mobiles. I know where 2 exist.
Keith Bird
Keith Bird Ай мурун
Not sure it was really "ahead of its time" - it was just over-priced.
Musclecarlover7 Ай мурун
I love the idea of the RE5, but I do prefer the 1976 revision. That dash is a bit much to me. It looks like someone stuck a coffee jar onto the headlight
Wayne Flanigan
Wayne Flanigan Ай мурун
The one I had. See my earlier post from 3 days ago.
RIDEwithGNR Ай мурун
Reminds me of the Suzuki B-King. Americans just didn't get the whole naked "transformer" styling thing when it was new. Dealers could not give Superbirds away in 1970 because of the extreme styling. Now, those are $100,000 - $300,000 cars because of their uniqueness.
RIDEwithGNR Ай мурун
Never even knew that bike existed until this video. Thanks for the ride. Oh, and yes, there are two or three more 70's colors. Vommit Yellow, Puke Green, and Goldenrod(with metal flake, of course).
Jimmy jamz
Jimmy jamz Ай мурун
Hey jay , cover an opal gt.
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