2009 - 2018 Suzuki TU250X
Suzuki launched the TU250 in 1994 to replace the GN250. The bike was lightweight with a standard riding posture meant to emulate the UJM — Universal Japanese Motorcycle — popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The second generation of the TU250 — dubbed the TU250X — was introduced in the U.S. market in 2009, though it did take a brief hiatus in 2010 and 2014. Available for 2018, the TU250X its with classic styling and spunky 250 cc engine makes a spiffy little commuter and economical transportation around town.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki TU250X.
2009 - 2018 Suzuki TU250X
Top Speed:75 mph
This old-school style hasn’t changed all that much since it was introduced and even then it was a retro style that reached back even further. The fuel tank shape was common to UJM, right down to the pinchweld flanges where the tank comes together. The kneepad grip on the sides of the fuel tank give you a place to hang your high-side knee in a turn, which is useful and appreciated.
Where Triumph makes throttle bodies look like carburetors on its retro-styled bikes, Suzuki isn’t as true to the past. The throttle body of the TU250X might give you the impression of a carb at a glance, but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just an observation.
The rear turn signal standoffs, while typical of the era, do present a problem for your passenger. Okay, maybe it’s not a "problem," but at least something to be aware of. With the standoffs forward like that, your passenger will have to sit and then slide back when mounting and slide forward first when dismounting or run the risk of sweeping the standoff with her thigh. The standoffs break off rather easily if swept with a leg. Ask me how I know that. Go ahead and ask me.
A little bit of bling gives the bike that pretty UJM aura — a little chrome around the headlight case, speedometer can and taillight housing with some on the fork tubes and a nicely polished crankcase side cover for good measure.
Not content to merely slap some retro-looking components on a contemporary frame, Suzuki designed this ride using a from-the-ground-up approach. Starting with a tubular steel frame that has a single downtube and a pair of rear braces, it uses the engine as a stressed member in the diamond-shaped engine compartment. The result is a strong, but lightweight, assembly that leaves the engine well exposed to the cooling airflow, as well as any potential admirers.
As capable as this frame is, I prefer cradle-type frames. With the cradle-type frame, even without skid plates, the underframe still affords a certain amount of protection for the engine. I know, it’s minor, but I am a bit paranoid about engine-case damage as it is so very expensive to repair.
The rolling gear is symmetrical, with 18-inch laced rims front and rear. Some people prefer cast wheels, I know. It’s a preference that might come about if you ever have to try to lace and true one yourself. Laced wheels provide just a skosh of extra give that absorbs some of the energy from bumps and takes the edge off the jolt that would otherwise transfer to the rider. That’s why laced wheels are popular on off-road bikes. However, it just plain looks cool.
Front-wheel bindage comes from a modern, twin-piston hydraulic caliper and disc, and the rear stops via a mechanical drum brake. While I have no love for drum brakes of any sort, this bike is quite light at only 326 pounds so the drum brake is sufficient, and it certainly adds to the classic panache. The suspension is simple and clean, with right-side-up hydraulic forks and blackout lowers up front, and a pair of external, coil-over shocks between the swingarm and subframe areas.
Overall, the TU250X is rather compact, with a 54-inch wheelbase and 81.5-inch overall length. The straight backbone leaves the seat at 30.3-inches high, not exactly butt-on-the-road low, but manageable for most body types.
A one-lung, air-cooled engine drives this classy little ride. At 249 cc, the engine is small — there are scooters with bigger mills, after all — but in keeping with the style of the bike, it works. Engines are getting smaller nowadays anyway and this could just be a case of waiting long enough and it comes back in style.
Suzuki doesn’t provide any current performance numbers, but it runs the exact same engine used when this bike was introduced in 2009. Authoritative third-party tests show 16 ponies at 7,200 rpm and 12.5 pound-feet of grunt at 4,500 rpm, as well as an economical 67 miles per gallon. The 75 mph top speed, theoretically, makes it capable of short highway hops, but you will forgive me if I decline to test that myself — I feel much more comfortable cruising at 80 to 85 with a little mustard left over, know what I mean?
In typical fashion, Suzuki bestowed its Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) unto the cylinder wall that serves as a lightweight alternative to a heavy, iron, cylinder-sleeve insert. A 32 mm throttle body with fuel injection and Suzuki’s proprietary Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) induction control system manages the air-fuel mixture. The factory keeps emissions down with its Pulsed-Air (PAIR) feature that pumps a bit of air into the waste-gas stream at the exhaust valve to burn of any remaining free hydrocarbons, and a stealth catalyst cleans it up even further.
The factory uses an easy-pull clutch — their description, not mine — to couple engine power to the five-speed transmission, and a chain final drive makes the connection to the rear wheel. An electric starter sees to cranking duties, but I think a kickstarter would fit right in and provide a little extra safety/redundancy — as long as it didn’t displace one of the gear clusters and reduce it to a four speed, of course.
MSRP on the 2018 TU250X is a very affordable $4,599 — just $200 over last year — and comes with a 12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty through Suzuki. You can add extensions to that through Suzuki Extended Protection. For 2018, you can score a TU250X in Glass Sparkle Black, which I do like better than the boring gray from 2017.
Given the dated style of the TU250X, I wanted to find another bike that would appeal to the same sort of buyer based on looks and nostalgic appeal, and the SR400 from Yamaha falls right into that category. Both follow the classic, standard cruiser form so prevalent among import bikes back in the day, and the variations are minimal. While the TU250X uses a separate rider seat and vertically-offset P-pad, the SR400 runs with a one-piece, banana-style saddle. The obvious benefit of the one-piece saddle is that a tall rider has room to scoot back a bit for more legroom, as long as there is no passenger, of course.
Gaiters on the Yamaha’s forks add an old-school touch and protect the fork seals better than a simple dust cap; but personally, I can live without them and was glad when my husband took them off his ride. Beyond that, they share a single disc brake up front and mechanical drum in back, with external shocks, laced wheels and a chain final drive.
Though they follow a similar form, the SR400 boasts a bit more in the displacement category at 399 cc versus the TU250X with its 249 cc mill. By no means a massive engine, but surely, it would inspire more confidence if you have to hit the superslab during your commute. Both run an air-cooled, fuel-injected thumper engine configuration, and the mills could be peas in a pod viewed side by side. Until you notice the kicker on the Yamaha that is, and lack of electric starter. As cool as kickstarters are, it could be a deal breaker for some.
Suzuki gains an advantage at the checkout counter with its thrifty $4,599 sticker. The Yamaha rolls at $5,990 – worth it if you need the extra confidence on the interstate, or just want a little more power; maybe not worth it so much if you are just looking for basic, around-town transportation. It all comes down to intended usage.
My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Cute as a button! This little ride is simply adorable, and it comes with a healthy dose of nostalgia as standard equipment. If I lived in a “scooter city,” this is the kind of ride I would like; simple, clean and classy, but still a proper motorcycle. Plus, I can already envision what it would take to turn it into a pseudo cafe’ racer. I admit that I didn’t care for this type of bike when they were current; but the older I get, the more I like things that remind me of my childhood. Heck, I even like Prince songs now!”
"Prince songs!?! I wish I didn’t know that. Music aside, I really like these little, around-town bikes. They’re economical and good as beginner bikes for folks new to two wheels. I don’t think 249 cc is quite enough to hit the interstate on, though jumping up an exit or two is doable."
|Engine:||Four-stroke, air-cooled, single cylinder, OHC|
|Fuel System:||Suzuki fuel injection|
|Transmission:||Five-speed constant mesh|
|Final Drive:||Chain, DID520V, 108 links|
|Suspension Front:||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Suspension Rear:||Swing arm type, coil spring, oil damped|
|Brakes Front:||Disc brake|
|Brakes Rear:||Drum brake|
|Tires Front:||90/90-18 M/C 51S, tube type|
|Tires Rear:||110/90-18 M/C 61S, tube type|
|Ignition:||Electronic ignition (transistorized)|
|Overall Length:||81.5 inches|
|Overall Width:||29.5 inches|
|Overall Height:||42.3 inches|
|Ground Clearance:||6.5 inches|
|Seat Height:||30.3 inches|
|Curb Weight:||326 Pounds|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||3.2 Gallons|
|Recommended Fuel:||Regular Unleaded|
|Warranty:||12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty, extensions available through Suzuki Extended Protection (SEP)|
|2016:||Metallic Fox Orange / Glass Sparkle Black|
|2017:||Metallic Oort Gray No.3 / Glass Sparkle Black|
|2018:||Glass Sparkle Black|