IF LOOKS COULD THRILL...
Suzuki is back in the 250 title race with its stylish new GSX250R
This is Suzuki’s first racy 250 since the two-stroke RGV250 and Japanese import four-stroke GSX-R250 of the 80s and 90s. Sporting a variation on the legendary GSX-R name, the bike has been designed to slot neatly into the burgeoning A2-friendly sportsbike class, heavily populated by the rest of the major Japanese manufacturers.
At the heart of the GSX250R lies a peppy 248cc parallel twin motor, producing just 24.7bhp. It’s a far cry from the screaming mini supersports of the 90s, and it has to be worked hard to get the most from it. However, there is still enough poke to be fun along winding, nadgery back roads, away from faster traffic.
It soon becomes apparent that this bike is designed for carving up city streets, rather than peg- scraping, knee-down, B-road thrills. There is a non-threatening power delivery and a great fuel economy, despite being caned in every gear to simply keep up with the traffic.
Flat out with your head on the tank, you will be lucky to see 85mph on the little GSX. Keeping up with traffic on the motorway, the bike sounds like it’s in a constant struggle, sitting between 8500 and 9000rpm at 70mph in sixth gear, close to its 10,500rpm redline.
At slower speeds it can be jerky on the initial application of the throttle, especially when left in a higher gear. This can make it hard to maintain a steady speed, which could be an issue on the urban commute.
The gearbox can be stubborn – on more than one occasion I was left stranded at the lights, as the bike refused to clunk into first gear from neutral. This can also happen when changing up to fifth when riding more enthusiastically.
At speeds of up to 60mph, the 250 is also quite predictable, with plenty of low-speed flickability to help you scythe through traffic along busy city streets. Combined with the nonthreatening engine, it’s a great tool for getting across town.
Unfortunately, the easy-going nature of this bike is slightly spoiled by its tyres. It comes on IRC RX-01 Road Winners and they cause the steering to become vague and unpredictable when you start to press on. In wet conditions they become quite unpleasant, with the bike feeling like it’s going to fall away from you at the slightest angle of lean. It is unnerving and spoils the otherwise enjoyable riding experience.
The basic KYB conventional fork set-up is also too softly sprung to be
‘It’s a great tool for getting across town and is a good-looking bike’
considered truly sporty. While the rear is firm enough to inspire confidence, the front-end can feel skittish and is prone to wobbles over bumps at speed.
Butthe little Suzuki does feel like a quality product. The paintwork is lovely and glints majestically in the sunlight. There are no poor panel gaps and no tacky plastic tank covers.
At £4399 for the model we tested (the Gp-rep paintjob is £100 extra), the GSX isn’t cheap. Honda’s higher-capacity, CBR300R offers more power and similar big bike looks for just £3999.
The Suzuki looks like a more modern bike though and the extra cash buys you a reverse-lit LCD instrument cluster, which is very easy to read. The ABS offered great feedback and minimal intrusion to the rider.
The GSX250R looks like more than simply a 250. It may not look that similar to a GSX-R1000, really but no-one wants their 250 to be mistaken for a 125 and that won’t happen here.
You have to rev it hard to get it moving through sweeping bends