Newer riders have a fresh choice of quarter-liter funsters with Suzuki’s GW250. Known as the Inazuma when it debuted in Europe last year, the liquid-cooled twin-cylinder entry 250 is targeted at entry level riders looking for options beyond sportbikes, dual-sports and cruisers.
If you squint tightly, you might notice styling cues appropriated by Suzuki’s audacious but unsuccessful B-King. The GW250’s appearance is modern and contemporary and provides an alternative to modern quarter-liter sporty bikes like Honda’s CBR250 and Kawasaki’s Ninja 300.
While the GW’s style might be inspired by the Hayabusa-powered B-King, its performance is not. The single-overhead-cam, parallel-Twin motor’s undersquare architecture (53.5mm x 55.2mm bore and stroke) is designed to produce solid lower-rpm performance rather than a screaming top end. As such, its crankshaft-rated output of 24.1 hp at 8500 rpm is a pair of ponies short of the single-cylinder CBR250.
But for newbie riders, the GW’s peak torque of 16.2 ft-lb at 2600 rpm arrives slightly sooner than the CBR’s 16.9 ft-lb 2750 rpm, making its power readily attainable in normal street use.
No real surprises from the GW250’s chassis, a basic semi double-cradle steel frame supported by a Kayaba fork up front and a single Kayaba rear shock with a seven-position ramped preload adjuster. All told, it adds up to a relatively hefty 403-pound curb weight with its 3.5-gallon tank full of fuel.
Yet the GW feels fairly easy to manage, thanks in part to a lowish 30.7-inch seat height, making it easy for me to get both feet flat on the ground at a stop. Its riding position is comfortably upright thanks to a generous 5-or-so-inch rise in its clip-ons. Unlike some 250s, the GW capably fits taller riders. Cycle World’s Matthew Miles (6-foot-2) didn’t look awkward while riding it, and he said he didn’t feel cramped during our ride.
The GW boasts attractive and comprehensive instrumentation, especially for a budget bike that retails for a modest $3999. A large analog tachometer is paired with an LCD panel that includes a digital speedo, clock, gear-position indicator, fuel gauge and dual tripmeters. And for newbs, Suzuki also included a maintenance indicator so they can schedule servicing when required.
Once fired up, the liquid-cooled Twin feels mildly tuned and is slow to pick up revs, but the powerplant does a great job of meting output to accommodate unsteady or untrained hands. Throttle response is mostly very smooth, only occasionally snatchy at low revs. Its clutch engages fairly soft and feels a bit weak, but it won’t at all be a hindrance to riders with modest levels of experience.
More impressive is the GW’s superb tranny, shifting gears with short, positive throws, plus the ability to upshift without the clutch. A short first gear makes for quick and simple getaways from a stop, and the six-speed gearbox has a set of nicely spread ratios to make the most of the bike’s meek power.
Steering responses aren’t quite as quick as expected from a bike of this displacement. Blame likely falls on its relatively heavy weight and a long-for-a-250 wheelbase of 56.3 inches. But once rolled into a corner, the GW250 exhibits a secure and confident set that will please new and new-ish riders.
Also pleasing is suspension action with nearly 5 inches of travel that ably sucks up a variety of bumps found on city streets. Combined with a fairly plush seat that thankfully doesn’t slope forward annoyingly like some other bikes designed for low seat heights, the GW is a comfortable place to bang out an urban commute.
The GW250’s brakes are adequate but uninspiring. Up front is a Nissin two-piston, single-action caliper mated to a 290mm disc that requires a strong pull to access its power. A 240m rear disc is more impressive, offering good speed retardation without a tendency to lock up.
Suzuki’s new tiddler is capable of highway speeds, as long as you’re not overly ambitious. There is a modicum of wind protection from the instruments and side shrouds, and the engine has enough power in reserve to cruise capably at 70 mph. But once past 75 mph, the motor is spinning at 9000 rpm, at which point the balance shaft can’t contain peg-tingling vibration.
I was able to coax the GW up to 90 mph when tucked over the tank, but by that point acceleration forces peter out as the engine approaches its 11,000-rpm redline. I’d recommend dropping a tooth or two from the rear sprocket if you plan to do a lot of highway miles.
Overall, the GW250 provides an intriguing alternative to similar-sized streetbikes, and with an MSRP of just $4k, it’s very affordable. Suzuki builds the GW in China to meet that price point, but its finish quality appears quite good and the bike was designed and engineered in reliable Japan. Suzuki promises fuel economy numbers that reach well into the 70s, so cost of ownership will also be quite low.
Interestingly, Suzuki’s retro-styled TU250X will sit alongside the GW250 in showrooms to compete for entry-level riders’ dollars. That Japanese-built single-cylinder throwback will stress a pocketbook an extra $400, but a buyer will enjoy a curb weight about 70 pounds less than the GW. The TU can’t match the GW’s speed potential, but its engine feels torquier down low in the rev range, it’s more nimble, and it has a more confidence-inspiring front brake.
Either way, we applaud Suzuki for giving entry-level riders two alternatives for their money.
Discuss this bike further at our Suzuki GW250 Forum