Fast Bikes - - CORE TEST -

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…


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’.

Smoke ma­chine.

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