Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
There are certain times you come across a motorcycle and it's obvious that someone poured his heart and soul into building it. Barry McBride's 1973 Suzuki RN73 is not only a shining example of just that, but it's also a rare look into our sport's history. When we saw the bike on display during track walk at the Glendale Supercross as part of the Legends and Heroes Tour, we had to learn more about it. McBride isn't a motorcycle mechanic, nor does he claim any stake in the down-and-dirty build process of this beautifully restored factory Suzuki replica bike—he simply wanted to pay homage to a man who has been such a big influence in the motorcycle-racing world. McBride made his vision a reality with the help of the right friends, connections, and a lot of passion, and he spoke to us about what the bike meant to him: "In 1973, I bought my first bike because I watched Roger DeCoster win the World Championship on an RN73. This bike was built to honor what Roger DeCoster has done for motorcycling, motocross, and the industry, and also just because of how important he is to our sport."
With well over $17,000 in parts and about five years of build-time to complete, this RN73 dives deep into the realm of perfection. One of the hardest-hitting facts about the bike is that it matches the exact weight of DeCoster's 1973 works bike. Custom parts such as a Jesse James-fabricated fuel tank, original factory parts like the works pipe and more, a titanium bolt set, and a lot of small details (like Roger DeCoster's fresh autograph on the tank) catch the eye, and we're thankful that guys like McBride have such a passion to keep these historic machines alive. Read along for some details on this beautifully crafted 1973 Suzuki RN73.
Making It Happen: The cases are from a 1976 RM370, but we had to cut the reed valve out and re-weld them because the RN bike didn't have a reed valve. The way that the actual '76 cases mounted to the RM370 was different than how it would mount to this bike, so we cut the engine mounts off and re-welded them on to where they would match up properly to this frame. So overall, we modified the cases, had a rod made, used a Wiseco piston, and had the crank balanced. We fabricated pretty much everything that's on it.
Details, Details: A man named Terry Good actually owns an original RN73, and he was so kind to help during the build. Terry took the fork legs off of his bike and had the sliders copied and machined in Chicago, so these are actually replicas of his, and they bolt to threads on the side of the fork like on the original. All the nuts and bolts are titanium, because the original bike that came from Japan had a bunch of titanium on it. The shocks were rebuilt Poppy Body Koni shocks, and I had the springs made with the same number of coils that DeCoster's bike had. The number plates are vinyl on each side of the air box. The front fender is off a TM, and the closest we could get for the back fender was from a Kawasaki 125. The grips are actually brand-new reproduction grips.
In Good Company: To build the frame, Terry kind of guided me through the process so we could build it to scale. So we built the frame from scratch, and I bought the cylinder, the head, the pipe, and the air box—actual works parts—from Terry. We wanted to have as much authenticity to the bike as possible. I had an engineer by the name of Mike Halpin build the frame jig, and he also fabricated all the parts, too. I'm really just the guy who had the idea to do it, and Halpin built it. Another gentleman who helped out a lot is Lynn Shoup, who was the first person I consulted with when I came up with the idea of the project. I actually originally wanted to make a TM400 look like this, but the bikes were so worldly different that the only way to make it look like this was to build it from scratch.
DeCoster's Thoughts On The Build: I've seen a lot of people try to do it [recreate his classic bikes], but this one is really nicely done. I can tell the guy had spent many hours to do what he did, and he did a great job. I'm impressed—this one is the best I've seen. It brings me back to those years: what happened at that time, who I was racing against, and so on. I remember who my mechanic was and all of that. This bike started off with the shocks in the traditional back position in the beginning of the year, and Sylvain Geboers and I decided to move the shocks forward. We were not the first people to do this; Maico was the first to do it with Adolf Weil. We achieved more travel with the same amount of shock stroke, and I made my own shock bodies. I saw that Adolf made some, so I made my own. I used internals from Koni shocks from the Netherlands, and then made a billet aluminum piece to have a little cooling at the bottom. It was a cool time in motocross.