Before I get into apologizing for the delay in getting this update posted, let me say this – with the introduction of the GW250, Suzuki may have created the ultimate bargain all-rounder!
For what it is, I really can’t find anything truly bad to say about it. Sure, I’ll pick a few nits below, but the bottom line so far is that the GW250 has proved to be an extremely friendly, capable, and trouble-free bike that should make any beginner or cost-conscious, seasoned rider very happy indeed!
The Season So Far
Everything was looking promising earlier this year when we managed to get the GW250 from Suzuki in April. Of course, as soon as we got it, it snowed in Toronto, and that was followed by a seemingly unending rainy season.
To top it off, while adhering to Suzuki’s break-in recommendations (I know, a very unCMG like thing to do) my top speed had to be kept below 80 km/hr for the first 1000 kms. That basically relegated me to city riding, which would have been fine if our requested Suzuki rear rack was mounted when we got the bike.
The rack would have allowed me to install my Shad top box and stow the stuff I require for the freelance work I do around the city. For me, commuter motorcycles (or motorcycles in general) are not very useful without a top box or some sort of lockable storage, so it took some time to get the necessary break-in miles logged.
That said, at our recent 1000-km service, Kyle at Suzuki Canada HQ was ready with a load of accessories for the bike, including my much-needed rear rack. We’ll be following this intro article with a piece detailing how the installation went and my initial impressions of the genuine Suzuki accessories – so stay tuned!
In The City And On The Slab
Around town, the GW works extremely well. It’s heavier than Suzuki TU250X that I had on long-term test last year, but that doesn’t stop it from easily threading through traffic.
Yes, at 183 kg (403 lbs) of mass it is weighty for a 250, but it really doesn’t bother me – it’s still over 40 lbs lighter than Suzuki’s next step up on the street bike food chain, the 650 Gladius. This mass also helps on the highway, as you don’t get blown around as much, when compared to a lighter bike like the TU I had last year.
Speaking of slab riding, the GW is more than capable. It can easily hold 120 km/h with enough left over for passing. It has a slight buzzing from the engine at that speed, but nothing overly offensive.
On the TU250, I’d avoid highways as much as possible; that was not a happy place for that bike, even though it could do it. On the GW, with the extra poke and speed from its fuel injected, twin cylinder water-cooled engine – no problem.
On The Brakes
Slowing the bike down is easy with the single discs, front and back, but stopping in a hurry requires a reasonable pull on the front lever. Dual disks would lessen the effort here, but I can live with improving my forearm strength to save some money.
Speaking of the front brake, the GW has a fancy span-adjustable brake lever, something missing from its more expensive sibling, the TU250X.
As Suzuki is targeting this bike at beginner riders, perhaps offering an ABS option (like Honda has in their 250 line up) may be a good idea. I was reminded of this during a rainy day while rear braking over a painted highway line, causing the backside of bike to step out a fair amount.
Personally though, I like the simplicity and ease of maintenance of a non-ABS bike. It forces me to be a better and more alert rider.
Hoops and Boingy Bits
Although the progressive single shock rear suspension and conventional forks are pretty basic, with only a preload adjustment available on the rear, the arrangement is a significant improvement over the old-school twin shock set up of the TU250X. I’d be dodging potholes with the TU on a regular basis, but on the GW I just lazily motor over them without the worry of hammering my spine up the back of my skull.
Also noteworthy here is that the preload adjustment is, relatively speaking, fairly easy to do. You don’t have a remote knob, but neither are you relegated to getting your hammer and punches out to break a locking ring and then muck with trying to knock the adjuster into place and then relocking it (only to do that again when it’s not quite right). See the pic (right) to see how it’s done on the GW.
Another thing I like about the GW more so than the TU is that its IRC tires are tubeless. This makes for easy roadside fixes if you pick up a nail. Tire repair and chain maintenance are further aided if you spend the extra $65 and get the genuine Suzuki centre stand.
Although I haven’t really pushed the bike yet, the tires, suspension and steering geometry give it a planted and confident feel in the corners. It’s not as flickable as the TU, but it works well. I found this video that shows how much fun you can have with the GW when you really hammer it on the pavement. Enjoy!
More About the Mill
If you watched the video, you’ll note that you can really wind this thing up – 11 grand, in fact, though the engine’s 24 horses are said to peak at 8,500 RPM.
Now that I’m dipping a bit more into the higher RPM, I’ve noticed the bike seems to be pulling well past 8,500 RPM. I haven’t got onto the secret CMG closed-circuit test track to check the top speed yet, but I’m guessing you could squeeze a non-metric ton out of it on a good day.
Did I miss a memo, or do we really need anything faster on our Canadian roads these days?
Just because the GW revs to 11,000 rpm doesn’t mean it has nothing down low. Although its 16.2 ft. lb. torque peak occurs at 6,500 rpm, it still allows for an ease of toodling around town in just about any gear. From those lower speeds, the engine pulls to the higher revs in an extremely smooth and linear fashion.
As for shifting gears – no problem. The cable clutch pull is relatively light and I have yet to miss a shift, and neutral is supremely easy to find when required.
On the fuel economy front, so far the GW has turned a very respectable 25km/l on average, in mostly city riding. Not as good as the TU we had last year but pretty close.
I’m 6’ 2” and I fit the GW just fine. Although my legs are long, they slip nicely into the tank cutaways and my knees don’t feel overly bent while on the pegs. And with a seat height of 780 mm it’s fairly easy to get a foot down, even if you are inseam-challenged.
The bars are also within comfortable reach and are raised quite high above the top of forks, so much so that I can actually stand comfortably on the pegs and reach the bars without having to bend over much. Hmmmh*…
The only thing I’m a bit concerned about on the comfort front is the seat. On longer rides I’ve noticed my butt getting a bit fidgety more sooner than I would have thought. The touch of buzziness at higher rpms may have something to do with this. We’ll have to go on some longer trips to really find out what the seat is all about though.
As for Fatima, my lovely pillion rider, she has been happy on the back, even more so now that the top box with the backrest is installed. She wishes the seat could be a bit more comfortable and has requested the ass-saving Airhawk for the longer rides we have planned.
Worth noting here is one of the USPs (unique selling propositions) of the GW. In the lower capacity category of motorcycles that are available in Canada, it is perhaps the most comfortable bike for two-up riding. Honda and Kawasaki don’t seem to think their potential customers care too much about pillion comfort – Fatima sampled both the Honda and Kawasaki offerings and said that she wouldn’t want to ride on the back of either of them.
The Look and Feel
I’m happy Suzuki chose to do something a bit different with the GW rather than just following suit and creating a 250 that mimics their sport bike offerings. Personally, I like the look of the bike, even the large front fender which most journos find contentious. From a design perspective, it makes sense with its lines echoing what you see on the sides of the tank. It also flows nicely up towards the headlight cowl.
This cowl houses a well-designed centre analogue tach with a digital gear indicator and a readout for the speedometer on the right side. Also, on the right side of the gauge pack, you have the choice of an odometer, one of two trip meters, or a clock. These options are selectable via a button on the dash.
All the idiot lights are located on the left side of the dash.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fuel gauge in the upper right corner. It’s a nice touch, but it’s proved to be a bit idiosyncratic. I’ve figured it out though. If the bike is on the side stand for a while, the gauge will read several bars lower than it actually is.
This freaked me out initially when I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and the gauge was indicating I should refuel, only to discover that I was just fine a few blocks down the road.
Additionally, the gauge forces you to a gas station much sooner than necessary, usually around the 200 km mark. Based on the fuel economy, I should be able to get about 330 km out of the 13.3 L tank, so why am I looking for a gas station so early? Once I figured this out, it was all good, but needless to say the gauge could do with some improvement.
For those of you that are concerned that the quality, fit, and finish of the bike may be compromised due to it being manufactured in China, let me put that to rest. I haven’t found anything on the bike that is second rate. The paint finish, quality of the chrome, plastics, and welds seems right up there with anything made in Japan.
I’m also impressed so far with how tough the bike appears to be. It seems almost over-engineered with its double cradle frame a general heft.
It’s easy to work on too, with quick access to things like the battery, fuses, and tool kit all located and secured neatly under the seat. Even the valve adjustment is done via the easy screw and lock method.
With its twin cylinders, dual exhausts, standard arrangement, and robust build, it seems to be the spiritual successor of the old Honda “Road Master” CD200s that were still in use and highly revered, when I was in Pakistan. These bikes were the stone axes that took their riders anywhere in the country (where the roads are often less than perfect) in relative comfort. Hmmmmh*…
Enjoy the ride.
Cheers, Mr. Seck
* Tune in to the next update to find out what this Hmmmhing… is all about.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.