SUZUKI RGV 250
The first time I rode an RGV 250 I couldn’t believe how fast it was. I was about 14 at the time and back then it was probably the fastest thing I’d ever ridden.
In the meantime I have been utterly spoilt by riding proper fast bikes, so I wasn’t really sure when to expect when jumping aboard this 1993 RGV250 VJ22.
The neon pink and yellow on the number boards couldn’t have looked more 90s if they’d tried
– it was a colour scheme that would have looked more at home on a pair of MC Hammer’s parachute pants but I think the little Suzuki managed to pull it off reasonably well.
Eager to see if the only two-stroke in this test still had what it takes to put a big smile on my face I threw a leg over and turned the key. And then I got stuck – I spent a good few minutes looking for the ignition button and even contemplated calling the owner, Westy, to ask him where the hell he’d hidden it. And then it dawned on me just how stupid I was being.
The RGV didn’t come with mod cons like an ignition button and a starter motor, instead you get an old fashioned kick start. To my surprise, the RGV fired up first kick and sung into life. It sounded a bit flat at tick over and it did take a while before the engine was warm enough to rev cleanly – my impatient twists of the throttle were greeted by a ‘boooor’ sound rather than a ‘ring’ sound until a good few minutes had passed and everything had got up to temperature.
When I lifted my foot onto the peg to set off, something didn’t feel quite right so I had a little look and discovered that the kickstart had got caught under the rear brake lever. I unhooked it and returned it to its rightful resting place, but noticed a lot of slogger in the system; this caused the kickstart to get tangled up with the brake lever almost every time I kicked the thing off. Not a massive deal but a bit of a pain.
‘Slogger’ was the name of the game on the RGV, with a throttle that had a boat load of play and front brake and clutch levers which bounced around to their hearts’ content. Not wanting to blow my mate’s pride and joy
up, I kept an eye on the temperature before I gave it the berries, which was easier said than done. You see, when you are sat on the little Suzuki, the front brake reservoir just nicely obstructs your view to the temp gauge so a decent amount of neck cranage is needed if you want to see where you are with it. It took a longer time than anticipated to get any heat into it, but once it had I let the baby sing. And what a song it sang! On full chat, a bike like this does something to your soul, whether you consider yourself to be a two-stroke fan or not.
For some strange reason the controls on this bike seemed to have been set up with no real consideration to the shape of the human form. Not wanting to faff with Westy’s setup, I left everything alone, but the gear selector was about a foot higher than it ought to have been (okay maybe only an inch higher, but every inch counts, doesn’t it?) and the clutch lever was a good stretch away from the left handlebar. Anyway despite the position of the shifter, the ’box worked pretty well, which was a good thing really because you don’t half have to hammer through the gears to get the most out of this bike. The thing really needs to be revved. In each gear the Suzuki’s ‘powerband’ played out thusly, below 9k there would be next to no power, things started happening at 10k, it pulled like an InterCity 225 at 11k, started petering out at 11.5k and by 12k there is nothing left. At the 11,000rpm mark there really was a decent kick of power, but it came in quickly and ended even quicker.
When you do find yourself in that 1,000rpm wide powerband, thinks are really quite exciting, and it’s great fun to ride. But it’s also difficult to ride, and very difficult to ride fast. Unless you have the thing buzzing its tits off it’s just plain slow but in all honestly I felt a bit of a wally rolling along at 9,000rpm at all times in case I needed to wind the gas on hard, at a split-second’s notice. Be ready to drop two or three gears if you want some power and you’re not already making the old girl sing.
The narrow powerband didn’t help cornering either, which was a shame as the RGV needed all the help it could get. It almost felt too light for the roads and corners on our road test – it was twitchy and flighty and neither Bruce nor I ever felt mega confident at knee scraping speeds. That said, the bike’s flick-ability was really quite impressive, and had we dared to ride it hard, I’m sure it would have impressed us… until we crashed it. The RGV was another bike that I would have loved to take on track and see what it could do round the bends in a more controlled environment.
Had we taken it on track though, I think the brakes would have been found wanting. Their initial bite was plenty sharp, but the more I squeezed the less impressive they were. I imagine that, on track, you would find yourself pulling the lever so hard that within a few laps the fluid would be boiling up and the brakes fading left, right and centre.
The RGV was a great fun bike to ride, but it wasn’t easy and I’d wager you need a lot more talent than I have got to get the most out of it. If anyone has got any spare talent I could certainly do with some…
WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THAT 1,000RPM WIDE POWERBAND, THINGS ARE REALLY QUITE EXCITING
Dangerous's so-last- century leathers were a perfect match for the RGV.
The RGV struggled to haul Boothy’s beer gut around.
Let’s play ‘hide the temp gauge’.