2018 Suzuki GSX250R

Editor Score: 75.50%
Engine 12.0/20
Suspension/Handling 11.50/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 7.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 6.5/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score75.5/100

New for the 2018 model year, Suzuki has released its quarter-liter sportbike, the GSX250R. Some may say Suzuki is a bit late to the game and ask: Why not a 300? In fact, everywhere I have ridden the GSX250R, fellow motorcycle enthusiasts have asked that question. Suzuki reps tiptoed around that elephant in the room and were quick to mention performance isn’t the main selling point with 250cc motorcycles, even to the point of not providing horsepower or torque numbers. They insisted price, style, practicality, and ease of ownership are where customers are making decisions when purchasing these bikes.

2014 Suzuki GW250 Review – First Ride

In my opinion, Suzuki has done a great job hitting their intended marks. The new $4,499 GSX250R is a looker. From the GSX-R-derived headlight and taillight to the sweeping aerodynamic lines of the fairings, the little Suzuki carries styling reminiscent of a much bigger and more expensive motorcycle. The 17-inch, 10-spoke rims look great, and the LCD display makes the GSX250R feel a step ahead of the class in terms of finish detailing.

The GSX250R will have some fierce competition from others in the 300cc range.

The GSX250R has been described as belonging to the Katana lineage of motorcycles in terms of what the bike means to Suzuki. This harkens back to the 1979 Hans Muth-designed GS1100S Katana, a production bike built to show that Suzuki could build stylistically advanced motorcycles. Katana later evolved into a line of practical, performance-oriented motorcycles that work well in most environments, and that’s how Suzuki wants this new GSX to be viewed.

GSX250R

The LCD instrumentation displays a fun, “Ready, GO” when turned on.

Pulling from its Katana heritage, Suzuki wanted the new 250 to have that sense of practicality and sport that would appeal to a large customer base. With the 248cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin engine tuned to deliver power in the low to mid-range, it does a sufficient job around town and through jaunts in the canyons.

GSX250R

The Suzuki GSX250R looks great from every angle.

In town, the bike pulls quickly through its first gear, and once in second, the GSX250R’s gearing is spaced comfortably apart to make riding around town hassle-free without needing to shift constantly. The transmission feels precise albeit producing a rather loud clunk when dropped into first.

GSX250R

Braking is handled by a two-piston caliper and single 290mm petal-style rotor up front, while the rear uses a single-piston caliper and 240mm rotor. The brakes are adequate when given a firm squeeze, but riders will want to use both front and rear brakes to get the full stopping potential.

GSX250R

The GSX250R is powered by a 248cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin previously seen in the GW250 which produced 19.2 hp and 13.7 lb-ft. This new iteration has some updates that Suzuki claims changes the power characteristic of the engine.

Those who have had kept eye on Suzuki’s smaller motorcycles may notice the engine is very similar to what was used in the GW250. You would be absolutely correct. According to Suzuki officials there are three main changes from the engine found in the GW250: the addition of roller rocker arms on the camshaft to decrease friction and raise the rev ceiling, a special finish on the combustion chamber allowing for better oil retention and better sealing (which Suzuki claims should allow for more power), and the valve stems are now waisted to allow more flow into the combustion chamber. There are also different throttle bodies and fuel injectors. With all of these changes, the engine produces power nicely spread across its rev range.

GSX250R

The GSX suspension’s shortcomings become more apparent when riding aggressively.

The GSX250R handles well, although the front suspension is rather flaccid. The softness up front paired with a stiffer shock in the rear can cause the chassis to feel unsettled when carrying speed through twisty roads that aren’t perfectly smooth. Although the suspension lacks while riding aggressively, it makes up for it in its commuting abilities, keeping the rider comfortable while soaking up bumps without being too harsh.

GSX250R

The GSX250R is completely adept at performing daily duties around town.

Around town, the seating position and 31.1-inch seat height provide all-day comfort and are confidence inspiring for riders of all sizes. There were no complaints from riders of varying height on our press ride.

If you find yourself needing to spend much time on the freeway, however, you may not want to do it on this motorcycle. At 65 mph with my 160-pound frame, engine revs were right around 8,000 rpm. Push that a little higher to match the 80-mph freeway speed of traffic in L.A., and the engine was spinning close to 10,000 rpm, just 500 revs shy of the indicated redline. Wind protection isn’t great, but the slots on the windshield do a good job of reducing buffeting at speed.

GSX250R

The Suzuki GSX250R is available in Pearl Nebular Black (shown above) or Pearl Glacier White.

While the Suzuki does have the fit and finish of a more expensive bike, it also is, in fact, a bigger bike. The GSX250R carries a 56.3-inch wheelbase, which puts it more than 3 inches longer than many other bikes in the class. This coupled with a 25.6 degree rake lends to the steering feeling a bit slow during quick maneuvers. There is also approximately a 30-lb weight difference between the portly GSX at a purported 392.4 lbs wet versus the rest of the current offering in the 250/300cc class. Sure, those things add to the stability of the bike to a certain extent, however, these characteristics will no doubt be made more apparent once we have the chance to test the Suzuki back-to-back with other bikes in the category. For reference, consider we weighed the CBR300R at 360 lbs; Yamaha’s R3 at 368 lbs; Ninja 300 at 385 lbs.

GSX250R

Screw-and-nut adjusters on the valves make valve adjustments easy for those looking to do their own maintenance.

New riders or riders not looking to make too much of an investment into motorcycling will be happy with the Suzuki’s relatively low price point (due to the motorcycle being manufactured in China) and ease of ownership. Suzuki has made working on the GSX250R easy and convenient with the inclusion of things like screw-and-nut adjusters on the valves, making valve adjustments unintimidating.

Say you don’t want to get elbows deep into your 250’s motor? The LCD display also includes a service interval indicator which alerts you when a service is due and which service is required. These things along with a claimed 76 mpg and 4.0-gallon tank should make Suzuki’s 250 a stress-free and relatively low-cost option for those looking to add motorcycling to their list of hobbies.

GSX250R

Suzuki has made a great-looking bike with the GSX250R, but with the current crop of motorcycles playing in the small-displacement category it will have its hands full when duking it out against the other manufacturers. Keep an eye out for a comparison test coming in the near future.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R Specifications
Engine Type 248cc Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel-twin
Bore x Stroke 53.5 x 55.2 mm
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery Fuel Injected
Lubrication Wet sump
Transmission Constant mesh; 6-speed transmission
Final Drive Chain
Suspension / Front KYB Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped; 4.5 in of travel
Suspension / Rear KYB Single shock, coil spring, oil damped 4.9 in of travel
Brakes Front Single disc, Nissin 2-piston caliper
Brakes / Rear Single-disc, Nissin 1-piston caliper
Tires / Front 110/80-17M/C 57H
Tires Rear 140/55-17M/C 66H
L x W x H 82.1 x 29.1 x 43.7 in
Seat Height 31.1 in
Wheelbase 56.3 in
Rake (Caster Angle) 25.6°
Trail 4.1 in
Fuel Capacity 4.0 gal
Fuel Economy 76 (claimed)
Wet Weight 392.4 lb
Warranty 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty
MSRP $4,499

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  • Sayyed Bashir

    Good for around town. Not for freeway commuting or long distance touring.

    • Jason Paul

      Ironically, those are the things its extra length and weight suggest it is setup for. Not designed to be agile for the street and not enough power for the freeway.

  • Matt O

    So 20+lbs overweight and about a 10hp deficit. I’m sorry Suzuki but not going to work

  • HazardtoMyself

    With the way Suzuki is dodging the displacement question, I see this one of two ways.

    Somehow nobody on the design team considered the competition or had the guts to raise the question.

    Their intended design for a more competitive model is way behind schedule. They were desperate to enter the market so this release is merely a place holder until competition of the new model.

    If they really believe performance is not a concern for small motorcycles, they should have just made another grom clone. Anyone I have ever known who has considered a 250, has always had concerns for freeway travel. While a 300 is not a performance monster it is just enough to make freeways more manageable in the U.S.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The bike is probably not meant just for U.S. consumption. In the rest of the world 250cc is a pretty big bike. Most Japanese manufacturers are concentrating on the exploding Southeast Asian market. See the new high-tech CB150R ExMotion Honda just introduced in Thailand:
      http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2017/09/honda-unveils-high-tech-cb150r-exmotion-for-asian-markets-with-video/

      • HazardtoMyself

        That’s really a given. Many smaller motorcycles are sold outside the U.S market. The little zook I believe was originally announced for other markets with no info on U.S release.

        That created the question if the U.S was going to get a displacement bump.

        The way it has been reported that Suzuki is side stepping the question in the U.S makes it look to me like they know they may have made an error with the U.S release.

        I still have an old ninja 250 that I like to ride from time to time. Nothing wrong with a 250. If Suzuki though really thinks gixxer styling is enough to give them a win in the category in the U.S market, I think their fooling themselves.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          They probably don’t have the resources to develop a 300cc engine just for the U.S. market (and too much 300cc competition already) so the 250cc sales in the U.S. will just be gravy on top of the sales in other countries. They are hoping the slight price advantage and good looks will give them some sales.

          • toomanycrayons

            “They are hoping the slight price advantage and good looks will give them some sales.”-Sayyed Bashir

            Not everyone shopping this price range is a Rossi looking to bag-up and cross continents at 100mph. Being good-looking, fun and cheap has served many of us here quite well, I’d bet. Bikes are people, too.

      • RicU

        Sayyed

        So why did Suzuki introduce it here at all? Anerica is the wrong market for this.

  • elgar

    Rather underwhelming specs…looks good though!

  • Rob Alexander

    They got the look right and the commuter specs (great MPG, large fuel tank) are good, BUT, it’s competing in the small-sportbike class, not a straight commuter class where people would consider something more standard style or even a scooter. I have my doubts about the sell-ability of this motorcycle – but then I’ve been wrong before, and I know a LOT of American motorcycle buyers buy on looks alone.

    • focke wulf

      why is it better ? it has the Suzuki name on it to begin with

      • Rob Alexander

        If you’re genuinely stupid enough to buy a motorcycle for the name on the tank, you might as well get a Harley or a Ducati or something with panache.

        • focke wulf

          i have owned 3 yamahas, 2 kawasaki, 5 Suzuki’s and 5 honda’s from my exp with these four brands kawasaki is a brand i will never touch again yamaha maybe but Suzuki and honda without question from my RM’s , XR’s and my GS’s and CB’s to the GSXR’s and CBR’s they have all been dependable and a blast to ride, my kawasaki’s were junk from the day i bought them so they go into the harley category of never waist my money on them

  • Michael Paul

    Should have been a 4cyl because it isn’t going to be anything but last in sales in this category. At least with a crazy high revving 4 it would be unique, and have more power.

  • Sam Birchill

    The last 250 Suzuki I had was a 1968 X6 Hustler. It had 30 hp, would do 100 mph and cruise all day at 80 mph. This is all they can come up with in almost 50 years? Doesn’t sound like progress to me. It cost me $700.00 which with inflation is just about the same price. I’ll take that X6 any day over this dog. I even put a windshield and bags and did a 4,000 mile trip on that bike.

    • RicU

      Sam,

      I’m a 1968 Suzuki X-6 Hustler grad too. I was the Fifth in a row of first owners and sold it to the sixth. I topped 100 mph and cruised at 65. I agree. If this is the best they can do, their motorcycle sales will join their car sales. They blew it this time.

      • Sam Birchill

        The one problem the X6 had was the center crankshaft seal. Mine failed. It made the bike extremely hard to start but one it got warmed up it was okay. All in All I wish I still had that bike. I later had a 1978 RD 400 and then a RZ350 KR Special. Both of those are still in service but not with me.

        • Ric Hill

          Sam,

          The center crankshaft seal wore quickly but I never know anyone to be in a hurry to work on it. Because the seal allowed oil into the cylinders with reed valves, it never seem to use much if any two stroke oil. SAE-40 was much easier to find. I wish I could have my X6 Hustler back again. The bottom 3 gears pulled hard, the top three gave you economy and some speed. Putting things politely, this new one is a committee after thought.

          • Sam Birchill

            I used to love blowing off Triumph Bonnies at stop lights.

          • Ric Hill

            I made a few “sheckles” taking on Malibu automatics in a few “stoplight derbies.” The first 3 years were quick. Then I quit as the local blue shirts were getting wise. It made a few payments on the credit cards.

  • John A. Stockman

    I was wondering when Suzuki, if at all, would release a model in this class. More choices than ever for this displacement arena. Suzuki enthusiasts would be more inclined to get this one than another brand, but more weight than their other Japanese competitors kind of stifles them, but possibly only here in the US if this is going to be a globally-available model. I started out after I was able to ride again on a 250. A KZ250 single. I lost count of how many told me “you can’t ‘tour’ on a bike like that”. I put 38,000 miles on that KZ250 in two years, going all over the west and Canada. I commuted on it, took day trips and two week rides. Yes, 70mph was an impractical endeavor, even with a tail wind and downhill, but if you look at a good map you can find alternate, non-freeway options on many two lane roads. There were challenges, but I enjoyed it all and wouldn’t change one mile of it. Some over-the-seat Pony Express saddle bags, a National Cycle deflector screen and a sheepskin seat cover for my boney a$$. It always got me back home, even with the tubed tires and a few flats along the way. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95057c464477da673dc60a2ad992e1e939c252dcee391ef634149bcd5fe2adbc.jpg

  • Wayne G. Morris

    WTF Suzuki? It’s been a good 10 years since Kawasaki opened up the
    quarter-liter sportbike market again with the new-gen Ninja250R. Honda followed a
    couple of years later with the CBR250R and then Yamaha with the R3. All
    sold out instantly their first year of production. So why the hell did
    Suzuki wait so long? I love my CBR250R, but If this bike were available in 2008 I would have undoubtedly got a GSX250R instead because of the parallel twin
    engine, longer wheelbase and higher seat height alone. (I’m 6′ & 220lbs.) Now that the
    market has had 10 years to be flooded with small bikes, with KTM and
    even BMW jumping in, this just seems like a really dumb marketing move
    on Suzuki’s part. Why launch it now with so much formidable competition in the class instead of a few years ago when it would have really stood out? Too late indeed.

  • RandleMcMurphy

    Suzuki got the design right. It’s a beautiful looker. I’m also liking the various manufacturers making these commuter bikes. Getting to work with a bike that gets 70 MPG? That alone gets you smiling.

    But…. I feel bikes like this are sort of missing the sweet spot. Sure these 250-300cc bikes have a market. However, I feel KTM is closer to this sweet spot I mentioned. The 390 Duke is THE bike that hits closest to the bullseye.

    Honda’s 500cc bikes are very nice as well. I’d like to see more 1 cylinder thumpers myself. Suzuki made a nice 650 thumper but, it was more or less aimed at women riders. A 650 single scrambler type bike without a 36″ seat height? Yeah.

    How about Honda bringing back the 350 and 450 Scramblers? Don’t laugh. I’ve often mentioned that Honda should also bring back the Trail 90. Sure, maybe more like a 125cc now but, it’d be a perfect in town bike. I admit to riding these back in the late 60’s as one of my learner bikes on camp roads. I recall having a blast on them too.

    Anyways, a 250 like this is indeed nice but there are riders like myself that frankly would feel a tad less manly on one. Fun? Sure. But make mine a wee bit bigger. Give it a personality like the KTM. In fact how about this; a hybrid! It’s gotta be on the radar. Use that electric torque to get that rush and then cruise with gas.

    I’m all over the place here! LOL. Short version? The sweet spot is getting close but, not quite yet.