The Suzuki Wankel rotary engined RE5 is often shortlisted as the worst motorcycle of all time. A better label might be 'The most disappointing motorcycle in history'. What follows is a ride impression of 30 years ago. I haven't cross checked any of the facts so are quite possibly wrong. At the time, I was working for Mortlock Suzuki in Perth, so I got to see a lot of the RE5, those who sold them and those who bought them. But first a little background. It was a topic of intense discussion in the 70's :- Which is better, 2 stroke or 4. Honda alone among Japanese makers had doggedly stuck to the 4 stroke and only softened a little with the introduction of the Elsinore. Yamaha went the other way and had great success with the XS series 650's only to come an almighty cropper with the disastrous TX750. Kawasaki was a little more pragmatic and had produced the BSA copy W series 650, the utterly mad H1 and H2 and later the Z1. It is this bike that wasn't just king of the road. It was a god. Suzuki alone appeared to have nailed ther colours to the mast with an all stroker lineup. Into this came the legislators of California, threatening to put the 2 stroke out of business. The Wankel rotary, neither 2 stroke nor 4 promised a compact, powerful showcase for Suzuki's technical superiority. Or so it seemed to the bosses at Hamamatsu. So what went wrong? The bike we got was big, not overly powerful and with a prodigous thirst. To be uncharitable, it had the performance of a 500, the bulk of a 750 and the fuel consumption of a 1000. It was, however, remarkably smooth once underway with a nice flat torque curve. It was another matter at idle with a rough and flatulent brrrpp brrrpp. Another problem at low speed around town was the enourmous heat buildup that threatened to cook the rider. The exhaust system was double skinned with air intakes at the front. Handling was probably above average for the era, not Ducati like but about on a par with Honda's recently tarted up CB750F1 and definitely a step up from Suzuki's own GT750. The styling was rotary themed throughout with a cylindrical instrument pod, the clear plastic lid of which flipped open with the ignition key. This was only spring loaded so had to be closed by hand if you could be bothered. What Ronnie Barker would have called 'naff'. Someone on the design team must have had a sense of humour because the RE5 was fitted with a kickstarter as backup to the electric one. Kickstarting an RE5 was like trying to crank a fully laden cement mixer. So much so that 'Kickstart the RE5' was a popular game around the shop on a slow late opening night. I only saw one bloke manage it and he weighed about 120 kg. The rotor unit was actually very reliable. Running problems mostly centred around the carburettor. This was a massively complicated device about the size of half a housebrick and contained a number of venturis, slides, butterflies, vacuum lines and cables. Keeping all this in harmony was a major chore. Unfortunately, a workable miniaturised EFI for motorcycles was more than 20 years in the future. What stopped the bike most often was a whiskered sparkplug. These were of course a special one that cost many times that of a regular plug and some RE5s would foul them at very short intervals. The model was a sales disaster as it seemed to offer little but novelty. I seem to remember that the last ones were sold off for next to nothing. Was the RE5 a bike ahead of its time? I'm not sure the rotary bike would ever have had 'a time'. Or perhaps not yet. If EFI could sort put the running problems and fuel consumption and integrated tank-seat-fairing units could keep the heat away from the rider then maybe. So there you have my memories of the RE5. Suzuki's cavalier grasp at the future. Yes, a cavalier. A fat, warty, flatulent one who drank too much. And I wish I'd bought one.