Suzuki TS250

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

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