“Is that a 500?” Well, no it’s not actually, it’s a 250, but the Fazer 1000 rider who’s on his bicycle today and has stopped to check I’m okay, certainly seems to be impressed with the look of the bike. “It’s those twin pipes at the back, makes it look like a 500.” He’s right you know. The new 2013 Suzuki Inazuma 250 does look like a 500, and when you’re starting off in motorcycling and in the market for a 250, looks are everything.
500s and 250s all bikes from back in the day when a 500 was a big bike and a 250 was what you rode without a licence. Unfortunately it’s a little bit more complicated than that these days but with the new licence laws coming into effect what we’re seeing is a girth of new ‘learner-friendly’ bikes like this new Suzuki Inazuma 250 to fall in-line with the 33bhp ruling. Sadly the Suzuki only makes 24bhp, but in a nice, friendly kind of way.
And as me and my new friend sit and and look at the lines of the bike against the industrial backdrop of Rugby Cement’s cooling tower, I realise that calling it a 500 is probably the biggest compliment you could throw as this very friendly new 250 twin.
Maybe it’s the twin pipes, maybe it’s the (dare I say it) nod back to the bad-selling Suzuki GSX1300 B-King in the styling, but this looks like a big bike in every way, until you sit on it at least, with a low 30.7in (780mm) seat height even the stumpiest of legs should be able to cope, and at a well-balanced 183kg it’s hardly obese.Some of you may remember this bike being shown at the NEC a whole year ago, but this time, as we approach the Suzuki stand and wheel out a bike before the show opens, it’s alive, it’s run-in and it’s on sale now for just £3400.
Pulling away in front of the entire Get On Motorcycle training staff makes me realise that its been a while since I rode a 250, and I’m out of third gear before leaving the Get On Hall.
Skin, rice pudding, all come to mind, but that wouldn’t be fair, readjust your brain, ride it how it will be ridden and this 250cc bike is a delight.
The gearbox is typically Suzuki light requiring a clutch to change up if you like, or clutchless smooth shifts even with just 300 miles on the clock. I navigate around the grease and salty slime that pretend to be roads around the M6/A45 and head out towards Coventry. Whatever the Road Winner tyres are made from, they work in the kind of conditions this bike is going to find itself riding in day in, day out.There’s no ABS, one way Suzuki have kept the price down, and you can only get a centre stand as an option, another way of keeping the price low, but the rest of it feels like quality kit.
The brakes are sharp enough to haul you up, if say the red traffic light comes on a little unexpectedly, and the damping of the suspension feels plush for the price. It’s no Ohlins, but the non-adjustable forks cope well with a 15.5 stone rider, and at the rear, the single shock feels fine for the job.
It’s incredibly easy to ride, just as a bike designed for new riders should be, with loads of steering lock, good mirrors, its weight carried well so it’s dead easy to balance at slow speeds, and an upright riding position that doesn’t put any strain on your wrists. But there is another side to this bike. It likes to play too.Wind it up and the Suzuki gets revving quickly and smoothly. There’s a balance shaft to cut out vibrations and the bike will pull 85mph if you get your head down and are prepared to let it rev near the 10,500rpm redline. It shows 8500rpm at 70mph and that’s where it spends most of the time once I’m away from the endless cameras in the Coventry and Birmingham vicinity.
My route takes me back to Rugby, the home of my biking routes where a 17-year-old with long shaggy hair and armed with a well-worn Suzuki GSX250 used to cause trouble.
The roads get a bit more windy and you can actually throw the Suzuki around with reasonable abandon. Lean it over too far and you’ll touch a peg, but it’s all friendly and nothing touches down that shouldn’t.
If you want to make progress then keep it above 7000rpm and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet engine that’s happy to have fun.
It will pootle too, engaging top gear from 40mph is no problem and ridden sensibly it will hit 85mpg. In fact during the whole day I had it on test, the bike’s fuel gauge barely moved, it really is that frugal.
At the end of a long day’s riding on the Inazuma I actually have a soft spot for it. The Suzuki is way cheaper than its rivals, the £3950 Honda CBR250R, and the £4799 Kawasaki Ninja 300.
Admittedly the Suzuki isn’t as well-specced (or fully-faired) as those bikes and there’s some big differences in weight - the Honda weighs just 162kg compared to the Suzuki’s 183kg, and the Kawasaki weighs 172kg, so the Suzuki is no lightweight but it carries it well. But bear in mind that the Kawasaki has a 17-litre tank, the Suzuki a 13.3 litre tank, and the Honda 13-litres, so that will affect their kerb weight massively and at the end of the day, if the bike is well balanced it doesn’t make too much difference at this level. It’s power where the 9bhp, and bigger capacity Kawasaki obviously wins.
But if you’re in the market for a good-looking, brand new 250 you won’t go far wrong with the Inazuma, especially at that price.
20-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness has helped launch the AA’s new road awareness campaign; 'Think Bike’
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