Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

At a Glance: 2014 Suzuki GW250

The Future is Looking Bright...
2014 Suzuki GW250
Suzuki only recently closed its doors to Canadian consumers this year, at least, where their automobile division is concerned. According to the Globe & Mail (2013) "The trigger for Suzuki’s move out of Canada – although it will still sell motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine products – was the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by its sister company, American Suzuki Motor Corp., last November." Truthfully, I wasn't surprised. With Honda and Toyota providing better quality vehicles I found myself underwhelmed by the majority of their products. Even Hyundai has stepped up considerably in the last four years. Though, I still wouldn't buy one personally. When it comes to motorcycles, however, Suzuki seems to be holding its own. There is a loyal following and admittedly, even I can't help be drawn to some of their more striking motorcycles such as the Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S. However, bigger isn't necessarily better as proven by Suzuki's GW250.  Introduced to North Americans in 2013 and with an MRSP of just $3, 999.00 Cdn. (not including freight, etc...) what we have here is a lovely little entry level standard bike for beginners and experienced riders alike.


Having owned a Suzuki Intruder 1400 for several years and having worked with Suzuki motorcycles at Sur2Roues during the last two seasons I was admittedly uncertain of what to think at first of this new motorcycle. Though I am generally not a fan of the the sports bike style or for that matter, Suzuki's in general, admittedly the GW250 has a near upright seating position and mid-mount pegs which allow for me to be comfortable for extended rides. Meaning, very little if any stress on wrists or arms as you plod along on the little 248cc parallel twin motor which exuds a mere 24hp. Don't let the size of the engine fool you though, it rides and feels like a much bigger bike. Apparently, MotoUSA has had this bike up to 80 mph (128.74kph). Did I mention that this bike also has a 6 speed, constant mesh gear box!?

Despite Looking Slightly Anemic, The Fuel Injected Engine Makes Up For
In Reliability, Smoothness & Comfort!
The GW250 is a conundrum to me. Not least of all because it comes equipped with all sorts of interesting features that most entry level cruisers are utterly devoid of. Aside from the 6 speed gear box which is smoother than the Boulevard S40's 5 speed constant mesh gear box (or for that matter the Suzuki Intruder 1400 5 speed gear box), it also is equipped with an instrument panel that has an LCD screen indicating speed, fuel consumption, and gear position on the right. In the middle you have a tachometer whilst on the left you will find indicator lights for oil, etc... It is compact, easy to read and frankly it never even occurred to me that you could even get some of the features, like the fuel indicator, on a bike this affordable.

Compact Yet Useful Dash Gives Peace of Mind When Lost on Twisties

The Brakes Are Responsive & Perfectly Adequate!
A Generous 13.3 L (3.5 US) Tank
Makes Commuting Ideal
Smart Looking Two into Two Exhaust
Compliment a Tidy Rear Taillight.
Photo © bestemusa.com
In terms of aesthetics, the rear end could be tidied up a little with a fender eliminator kit like the one sold via bestemusa.com. There is even a 'DYI' video. The exhaust note may sound too passive for those interested in being heard, not seen. Suzuki claims that this bike would be an ideal city commuter or from time to time a great bike for the open road. I cannot attest to the latter much but can confirm that this motorcycle is nimble, easy to ride and feels like a modern 21st Century machine. The seat is actually quite comfortable as well. As a motorcycle instructor I have to demonstrate a variety of maneuvers. Where some sports bikes like the Suzuki GS500 feel slightly top heavy, the GW250 manages to find the right balance between comfort & practicality. This is a motorcycle that enjoys being thrown around and isn't afraid to get down into corners. It handles well in emergency maneuvers including upright braking.

Suzuki GW250 WalkAround


Now if only entry level cruisers could be as well made and have as many features as this motorcycle I would be truly a happy man. The Suzuki S40, as mentioned above, is about as modern as a Model T compared to the Suzuki GW250. It's only advantage is that belt drive comes as standard whereas the GW250 has a final chain drive. To many this isn't a problem. However, with a chronic back issue I don't fancy the idea of having to be so low to the ground to clean and tighten the chain on a regular basis. In fairness to the GW250 though, it does come standard with a central stand... a perk that few bikes, including Triumph Bonneville's, seem to lack today without having to fork out cash on top of the purchase price.

Would I Buy It?
Yes & No.
The million dollar question then is would I buy one? Yes & No. If I were in the market for a small displacement motor to potter around town in and take the occasional weekend trip, not unlike my own Yamaha TW200 (though admittedly a very different beast altogether), then yes, I would have to admit this is a contender. The price is right for the package that your getting. There are little touches on this bike that other motorcycles, including higher displacement motorcycles like the Yamaha Bolt do not even have for double the price. For those native to Quebec, Canada, the cost for the plates are cheaper too which should be a considering factor. However, I cannot help but think that for similar prices you could just as happily ride off on a Honda CB250 R or RA or for a grand more, a Kawasaki Ninja 300. Yes, the Suzuki has a price advantage but well, lets face it, it's a Suzuki. I know, I know, how dare I. But I am speaking from personal experience only. I will give credit where credit is due, however, and that is Suzuki makes far better sports bikes than they do cruisers in my humble opinion. I am speaking of their entry level cruisers of course as I cannot speak to the quality of their much more expensive and higher end cruisers. Unfortunately, for Suzuki, at least here in my neck of the woods, their brand has suffered and has to some degree lost consumer confidence.

Go On, You Know You Wanna!
What this motorcycle does do well is open my eyes to the possibility of purchasing something other than a cruiser in the near future. The pros outweigh any cons that come to my immediate mind, with the exception of chain final drives of course, and I have found myself looking at sport models including but not limited to the Yamaha FZ 07 and Yamaha FZ 09. All in all, whilst the Suzuki GW250 may lack the visual appeal of its similar counterparts it makes up for in a forgiving personality that is happy and willing to grow with its rider. That makes it one of the best bikes that I have come across for learners and a fun little addition to the stable for more experienced riders.  

10 comments:

  1. They are often made to a price point rather than to an ideal. The fact is very uber nice 250's could be made but at the price it would have to have, people would sniff and say, gee I can get 1000cc's for the same money! And of course most 250 engines top out at maybe 20??? horsepower which is hard pressed to do 65mph on any but the flattest road. I believe with fuel injection and careful camming and such, you could get 25 or 30 hp, which with a not too heavy frame might have better ooomph. Yamahas XV250 has plenty bottom end torque but is geared so low that the merest mention of a highway has it wheezing, and a Ninja 250 is so peaky that there isn't much low speed drivability. A more powerful tuning could get a better middle ground with more all round potential. But again, who would buy it in this day of 1 litre and up bikes?

    johnnycando

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  2. I agree however, if they can put Belt Drive and or shaft Drive on an entry level bike than they can afford to put higher end speedo's, tachs, suspension, etc... There should be no reason that the 2014 S40 650 still rides like a twenty year old bike with a clunky gear box when they have little GW 250'ss with gear box's that rival bikes like the Yamaha Bolt (belt) for example. The latter actually comes with a craptastic speedo that is hardly visible in sunlight and doesn't have half of the features that this little 250 does. Heck, the Yam 650 classic comes standard with shaft.

    In truth, making old new again has been a profitable business for companies. The Honda CB1100, the Moto Guzzi 750 (shaft) and even the Triumph Bonneville range can attest to that. However, in all three cases your paying more for the nostalgia of the bike itself rather than a modern example of said machine. (With possibly the exception of the CB1100 which shot itself in the foot with a final chain drive) Harley-Davidson has made a career of it themselves.

    I reviewed the 250 because, well, as a motorcycle instructor I am constantly being asked what would be a good starter bike for people afraid of higher displacement engines. However, the fact is, it makes no sense to me that this little bike would be better built than, say, a modern entry level cruiser like the S40 650 from the same company.

    The GW250 did open my eyes to the fact though that more is possible without a 20 grand price tag. Hence why I am looking at the FZ09 as a possible contender despite its final chain drive. (For naysayers, lets not forget that the VMAx comes with shaft, though its now at an insanely inflated price) I love cruisers but is it wrong of me to expect that I can have just a little bit better for my money?

    Price points have less to do with what is affordable and what consumers want and more to do with companies looking to scrimp and save every where possible and expecting its consumers to simply put up and shut up, taking what they give us. Just mho though and that being said, I appreciate your comment. I really do. I just think there is more here than meets the eye... or the cheque book.

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  3. I can't afford to ride a little 250. The powerlessness of it would kill me.

    People who ride the little bikes must have some serious patience.

    shreveportSS

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  4. As to what works best for an instruction bike, you have to consider your students. Some if not most have already envisioned the kind of bike they want to ride and training them on something different might hold them back mentally. I think an absolutely vanilla UJM is best for that then, and the Suzuki TU250 fits that bill. I'm a cruiser guy and I do believe I'd ride that puppy. That is if it were not so small framed. But then the the CB1100 is big enough, but that's no beginner bike. The S40 is a cruiser bike of sorts, but intermediate enough that it might make a good trainer for advanced rider courses. Though I imagine at that level participants might bring their own.

    And regarding the S40...I respect it for never changing in all it's time. And thumpers make excellent mounts for bobbers and rat rods and such!

    johnnycando

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    1. I completely agree about the S40. I actually love the bike itself. We use them at the school I work for. What I don't agree with is the price tag. But that is just me wanting something for nothing I guess.

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  5. All valid points. Unfortunately I don't get to choose the bikes, the owner of the motorcycle school does. The TU250 is a great example though of something I would like to see offered but at the same price as the GW250. Because it's "retro" its a grand more than the GW250... at least here in Canuck land.

    EDIT: Oh, but as mentioned above, its essentially a thirty year old bike being sold new and with no tech like we find on the GW250.

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  6. It's a full grand more here in the States too. At least it's fuel injected. I'd like to see how that engine responds.

    jonnycando

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  7. We have a couple of TU250s on the M/C training course I part-time with during summer and they are fabulous Bikes ... have had 'em out on the roadways and they are a capable, comfortable, fun to ride, stylish motorcycle ... If Suzuki were smart enough to up-grade the long-in-the-tooth LS650/S40 into a TU650 with EFI & ABS, I'd be all over that!

    PerrydaSavage

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  8. this rider is killing the clutch !

    brkgkc

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    Replies
    1. How so? When performing slow maneuvers you need to do so at the point of friction, rear brake, a bit of gas and finally of course vision. You can't "kill" a motorcycle clutch in the same way that someone can with a car.

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