When I was invited to the 2018 Suzuki GSX250R introduction I had mixed feelings. I have only owned one personal motorcycle under 995cc. Small bikes just aren’t really my thing. While I have plenty of reasons for my bias, I was willing to go into this bike launch with an open mind and I am glad I did. This lightweight bike was tons of fun.

Suzuki GSX250R

One: Looks matter

In the 250 class motorcycles really aren’t performance driven. To some, of course, they may be, but most buyers just want an affordable bike that looks great and that they can be proud to ride. The new 2018 Suzuki GSX250R harkens back to the days of the Katana in multiple ways: the fact that the GSX250R is designed to be the “everyday sportbike” and the importance of iconic design. To me personally, it is by far the best looking bike in the class.

Suzuki GSX250R

Two: LCD Display

The little Suzuki has a fantastic backlit LCD Display that, upon flipping the key to start, gives a fun “READY” then “GO”. The display also includes service interval indicators, tachometer, gear selection, fuel level, and trip meters. A lot of info for a $4,499 motorcycle.

Suzuki GSX250R

Three: Stability & Comfort

The GSX250R suspension is what I would call plush, it remained comfortable and compliant without bottoming-out on our test loop. It’s no GSX-R1000R, but given the price and mission, its suspension performed admirably. This is an everyday sportbike, an entry-level machine to introduce people to motorcycling in an unintimidating way. The KYB fork and single rear shock soak up bumps without jarring the rider’s spine which is a welcome comfort. Sure, those performance oriented folks may want stiffer suspenders in the twisty, bumpy stuff but the GSX250R’s suspension offers an all-around great ride.

Suzuki GSX250R

Four: Affordable

With a $4,499 MSRP, Suzuki’s small displacement sportbike comes in right on par or even $500 less than some rivals in the category. Not only is the price reasonable, but with a claimed 78 mpg and a four-gallon tank, you may not need to fill up for weeks.

Suzuki GSX250R

Five: Fit & Finish

Building bikes in this price range requires sacrifices to be made in some places, so components and parts can end up bearing the brunt of cost saving measures. That is hardly the case with the GSX250R. The bike feels incredibly well put together with nice components, exceptional styling and feel that might even make you proud to say there is a Suzuki GSX250R in your garage.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    The R designation tells you it is a racing bike so that is a good deal for less than $4500. Doesn’t have ABS or traction control but you probably don’t need it on a 250cc bike (except maybe in Europe). The article doesn’t state engine rpm or max speed (or horsepower and torque for that matter) so the question is whether you would have to constantly wring out the engine to stay ahead of freeway traffic. I burned out a Yamaha Virago 250cc engine doing that.

    • Jon Jones

      I see this from time to time on smaller displacement bikes used on freeways—even XVS650s.

      Main issue: Not checking the oil level frequently.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        I have been riding bikes since I was 16 years old so I would know a thing or two about checking oil. The main reason was I bought the bike used off Craigslist and I think the seller got rid of a bike they had already damaged by not checking oil or abusing it. It failed after six months. Paid as much for the engine rebuild as I did for the bike. Took it home and never rode it again. Gave it away for $1. By then I had bought my 2007 Harley Softail Custom and have never been happier. To make the Virago 250 go 80 mph, I had to keep the throttle wide open for the entire 35 minute freeway commute, so I knew it would fail sooner or later. What you are saying is that small engines burn more oil if they run at max rpm for long periods of time. All my bikes are now 1200cc or over and I have no such problem with them.

        • Jon Jones

          Jeez, you’re touchy! I wasn’t implying that you were directly responsible for your Virago 250’s demise.

          I was simply stating that most small bikes expire prematurely from the oil consumption not being monitored.

  • Jon Jones

    Very nice!

  • HazardtoMyself

    I don’t doubt that this is probably a very nice bike for what it is.

    While this article is not a comparison, can it really compete? When this bike was announced the general consensus seemed to be Suzuki is a little late too the party with less performance.

    Its the same engine as the GW250 right? Does a mere $300-$700 really make this more attractive than the larger displacement ninjas, R3s and the Duke?

    Any plans for a current model lightweight shootout?

    • Ryan

      Yes, we will certainly be doing a shootout to see how the GSX250R compares back-to-back with others in the class.

  • elgar

    Styling is ‘bang-on’ for a motorcycle in this segment. I imagine that performance, ergos and technical info are ‘coming soon’?

    • Ryan

      I will have a full review posted up early next week with video and technical specs.

      • elgar

        Grazie signore Ryan – looking forward to it!

  • Superhawk

    Very well done on the looks department for sure… nice and clean.

  • James D. Becker

    This is a reworked GW250. Is it still made in China? Not really high performance.

    • MikeD

      You know it !

    • c w

      engine, yes.

      same frame?

  • sgray44444

    I still don’t get why we need to start over with the displacement wars. if they would have made it a 400-500cc twin, it would have enough usable torque for adult men to ride it and still be docile enough for a new rider. In real world riding, that 78 mpg claim is nonsense. You might as well buy any of the larger 500-650cc twins, because you will get about the same mileage and enough hp to not be afraid to ride it on the highway. I understand the appeal of small bikes, but there is a reality check once you get back on one. When I rode one of the later 250 Ninjas, it reminded me quickly why I went to a larger bike as soon as possible (from a 350 Honda). I find my little 650 to be enough bike for any real-world situation, and gives me that lightweight bike feel.

    • Jon Jones

      Have to agree here. I’ll commute sometimes on my trusty ’92 GS500. Wouldn’t want to go much smaller in displacement than that on the freeway. Smaller bikes WILL work, but they’re screaming at 70 MPH.

      • sgray44444

        absolutely. Do you really want to have to ride around at 10,000 rpm just to maintain speed? That’s what is going on with the 250 cc bikes.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          “5000 Miles at 8000 RPM” a book by Joe Berk about bringing the CSC RX3 (250cc adventure bike) to America.
          https://www.amazon.com/5000-Miles-At-8000-RPM/dp/1517355354/
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/255fb7543d6175bdc0786a0eb9ca08fa1b46c10dbd02c17393114f3c0ebe7734.jpg

        • kawatwo

          That’s what makes them so much fun though😊 13K rpm all the time. Not so much fun for bar hopping but super fun for back roads.I did ride a 2005 ninja 250 from Seattle to Laguna seca on 101 and it fid fine and was actually very comfortable. I am small though. Suzuki needs to make this a 300 or more though or lose some weight to make it as good as that 2005 was.

          • sgray44444

            The first gen I rode was very comfortable, even for 6’4″ me. I think if I were a smaller person, it would probably have been a lot more fun. I think it’s just a little too small for my big gut.

        • Jon L

          Try an old Kawasaki ZXR250R – 19,000 rpm from a screaming 4 pot 250, aaaaaah, those were the days……(maybe not for you guys in the States)…..or a CBR250R……FZR250….even the GSXR250. Somehow, the “modern” 250’s just don’t seem to have it………
          Must hunt one down again…or stick to my 250 two strokes…..

      • Elk boy

        That isn’t true my 07 ninja cruises 75 all day long and tops at 103. Redline is 13K and 70 is at 8K, ridden over 22K miles on mine never had a flaw. Spanking it on a curvy road is awesome fun.

        • Jon Jones

          OK!!

    • kawatwo

      You need to ride one of the first or second generation 250s. They were lighter and faster. I had the third generation and it gained enough weight that it just wasn’t as much fun. 0-60 was about 7 seconds versus under 6 for the first and second generation. I’m not saying they were in the same league as an EX500 or 600 class sport bike but they were quick enough to be entertaining. A new 250 could be also but they need to get the weight down below 350 pounds fully fueled. It’s nice to have both a little bike and a big bike. Ride an older 250 Ninja for a while and your big bike will feel like a pig and you will wonder why any motorcycle has to be that heavy 🙂

      • sgray44444

        I actually did ride a first gen, and it did feel somewhat more responsive. It was still what I would call dangerously underpowered. I would say that the 500 twins are just the right size for a small bike. Keep in mind I’m not a small person, so my perspective might not be yours.

        • kawatwo

          That probably helps 🙂 I used to be about 125 pounds back then 🙂 Up to about 140 now. A CBR500 would make a great all around lightweight bike too.

          • sgray44444

            I’m about double your previous weight. Doesn’t help!

    • XRayHound

      You obviously haven’t ridden any of the current crop. I have an R3, I weigh 250 pounds, and it leaves the line with authority and isn’t stressed at highway speeds. With the suspension resprung and revalved to my weight, it’s also a blast to sportride on the street or the track, 10/10 all day while still having a huge safety margin that lets me concentrate on the sheer fun of it.
      Kawi never had the Ninja 250 sorted from the factory, it ran out of breath and fuel both to the point some examples I’ve ridden couldn’t pull 6th gear at all. Race tuned ones showed what the little thing could really do. The Honda VTR250 Interceptor was also tons of fun.

      • sgray44444

        no, haven’t hidden the 300s. They sound pretty fun. I hope to get the chance.

  • kawatwo

    Having owned several Ninja 250s I know how much fun a small bike can be on a tight road. The first two generations of 250 Ninja were 350 pounds dripping wet remember and 0-60 was about 5.75 seconds. That makes a HUGE difference compared to something like this Suzuki 250. That being said I am not sure $500 less is enough of a savings vs the Ninja 300 and R3. I also think both of those bikes look as good or better but styling is personal. If the Suzuki were super lightweight or had something else that made it stand out I could see getting one but it is just under powered and overweight as it is now. Suzuki needs to update this thing or lower the price a LOT. I am so glad to see so many small displacement bikes though. There is nothing like being able to hit redline everyday and not be breaking the law by too much:). It IS more fun to ride a small bike fast than a fast bike slow most of the time depending on the road. I hope you try the other bikes in the class because they really look like fun. Can’t wait for the rumored Ninja 400 🙂

    • lennon2017

      If past discounts are any indication, Suzuki seems to be the leader in giving dealers leeway for haggling. I suspect no one except someone super eager will pay list price for this bike, so it’s really just a matter of what the average point of sale is willing to move these Suzukis at. 4, or 4,1 out the door?

  • VTECheart

    I ride an R3, and I demoed one. You mightn’t think that another 50-70cc would make a large difference but the difference in power and torque was shocking. It was dangerously slow for someone my size (~200lbs). My R3 isn’t fast, but it has some pull. Suzuki missed an opportunity by not enlarging the engine for the US market.

    • sgray44444

      I agree completely. It’s interesting to hear your experience. I’ve been wondering how much better the 300 class was than the previous 250’s. I remember even my 350 twin being acceptable to ride, if a little slow. When I rode the 250 ninja, they couldn’t get out of their own way.

  • Matt O

    Little bikes are incredible fun, I’m excited for the comparison. The 300’s are so polished, I wonder if this can match the R3.

    • Kevin Duke

      Nope, there’s no way it can match the R3, which has an extra 70cc and a more modern engine design. This bike will have a tough enough time with the single-cylinder CBR300…

  • Shlomi

    How about in line 4 250cc ? Or moto 3 race replica (no the KTM 300 RC is not race replica).

  • MikeD

    Where’s the V-STROM 250 ? It’s based on the same chasis, suspension and engine.

    • spiff

      I think that is in the pipe, not sure if it is US bound though.

      • MikeD

        I hope it gets here to the land of “Bigger it’s ALWAYS better !!!”(USA).That thing it’s my kind of ugly(digging the cyclops big round headlight) and size to mercilessly trash around with abandon unless it weights a metric ton because it’s made out of Tungsten and depleted Uranium(hope not). (^_^)

        • 0verdose

          It’s already in the US. Here in Colorado I saw one at my dealership =D

    • Tanner

      october in the UK.

  • Donald Silvernail

    A 350cc bike was a popular size back in the day. They were something you didn’t want to get rid of the second you got your license. The fact that the manufacturers are finally starting to give us bikes in/approaching this range makes a new 250cc bike too little, too late.

  • Tanner

    aging 24hp engine.

    for a few hundred bucks more you $ can have a lot more bike (ktm 390, bmw g310r)

  • Craig Hoffman

    10,500 redline? What happened to the last 2,000 rpm?

  • SRMark

    I hope the sell everyone they make. Well done Suzuki.

  • Fiend4Mojitos

    Interesting how not a single word was printed regarding the engine, transmission or brakes.

  • Patriot159

    How long before it’s a 300cc?

  • Rob Alexander

    It’s pretty and practical for sure, but how’s the performance? What about comfortable cruising speed?

  • madskills

    I love the shoes of the girl on the bike…. LOL! What are we selling….

  • Vince Weldy

    Rather lite wording on the engine. 1 or 2 cylinders? Torque? Hp? RPM at freeway speed?

    • Ryan

      The full review will be going live later today which includes everything you’ve mentioned.

  • XRayHound

    So, long story short, Suzuki missed the boat. It’s $500 cheaper, sure, but that is literally all it brings. It’s not got the displacement to race in the same classes with the R3, RC390, and Ninja 300. It doesn’t distinguish itself in any other way, either. The article comments on the styling, but that’s subjective and I don’t agree; I would place it a distant fourth in styling behind the R3, RC390, and Ninja 300, only edging the even more useless single cylinder CBR300R. The instrument panel doesn’t impress me especially either, the RC390 can claim the same and the R3 has as much functionality as you could ever ask for at this price point and offers a proper tachometer, as apparently the unfortunate trend toward bar graph tachs has come back. Hopefully that will die out as quickly as it has every other time.
    Suzuki is completely out of touch. They killed the super popular SV650 only to resurrect the name and attach it to a pale shadow of the bike it used to be, and now they jump on the small displacement, entry level sportbike bandwagon several years too late and at least 50ccs short.

  • symun buuntw

    Every housewife should ride a bike to avoid n creating bloody trafik conjunction n bloody bad envolrolment from A to Z

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