Simple, robust and easy to tune, the long-lived TS gives you everything you could ask for in a lightweight, good-looking, value package
WHEN IT COMES to model longevity, Suzuki’s TS250 had certainly earned its gold watch by the time it was retired. It served for the entirety of the 1970s as Suzuki’s quarter-litre two-stroke trail bike offering and while it never topped outright sales charts it sold well enough to stay in the line-up, even earning regular updates.
Indeed there were more capable trail bikes than the early incarnations of the Suzuki two-stroke single but its apparent ambivalence to the off-road cause did it little harm as it proved to be a comfortable, practical and agile roadster, especially for urban commuting. The bike’s versatility even found its ultimate expression when some were converted to go road racing.
The TS’S arrival in the UK was an unhurried affair. The bike was first marketed in Japan as the Hustler and in the US as the Savage in 1969 but really it was the 1974 TS250L that put the trailie on our map, rolling in on a 21in front wheel to replace the 19in fitted to previous models.
Engine-wise, the TS250 was much as you’d expect. The oversquare piston-ported engine delivered its claimed 23bhp in an undramatic fashion, with a 6.62:1 compression ratio (raised slightly to 6.7:1 for 1972) that was low even by two-stroke standards. A separate Suzuki Posi-force two-stroke oil pump did away with the need for increasingly unfashionable pre-mix, feeding the big-end via a main bearing as well as injecting a dose of oil into the inlet tract. The high exhaust on the right side of the bike dictated that the twostroke oil tank be mounted on the left, a fair distance from the pump.
In typical two-stroke trailie style, sparks came from a flywheel magneto, replaced for 1972 by Suzuki’s PEI (‘Pointless Electronic Ignition’ – no, really), and headlight supply was direct, an alternator
charged battery provided the voltage for the brake light, horn and later, indicators.
Engine power was adequate for urban commuting and the occasional green lane excursion if a little wanting on faster roads. Braking was what you’d expect of a trailie – you don’t want sharp brakes on unmetalled roads. Luckily the TS is a relative lightweight.
The 1976 TS250A model, confusingly following the 1975 TS250M, shed a little weight with the introduction of alloy rims. However the 1977 TS250B gained weight with a duplex frame replacing the previous simplex design. Contemporary commentators wondered why Suzuki made that change given that the single downtube frame had not been found to be wanting. It also meant that the barrel had to be redesigned to move the previously offset exhaust outlet to the middle to let the pipe clear the front downtubes. A reed-valve was added to the engine too. Below 3000rpm fuel/air entered only through the barrel and small ports meant good bottom-end delivery. When the revs passed 3000rpm, fuel/air was drawn into the crankcases too, via the reed-valve, boosting the midrange. Styling was very much influenced by Suzuki’s PE enduro bikes, right down to the yellow bodywork. Laid-down shocks mimicked the look of the PE too, even if they had only half the travel of the competition bike.
Aside from graphics and colour changes the Suzuki stayed the same until the 1980 TS250ERT which had new bodywork and a box-section swingarm. The 1981 TS250ERX was the last of the line – not to be confused with the 1985 liquid-cooled TS250X that superseded the air-cooled bike.
Today, the TS250 is still the bike it always was; a capable enough all-rounder for everyday road riding and for the odd off-road foray too.
Giving it plenty of welly. That’s the style