2013 - 2017 Suzuki GW250
Suzuki brings streetbike styling to the entry-level market with its GW250 family— also known as the GSR250 in Japan, and the Inazuma 250 in the EU. Displacement, weight and complexity is kept low, making it very user-friendly and a good trainer for folks inclined to go the naked/streetfighter/sportbike route when — or if — they upgrade.
Priced near the bottom of the spectrum, the GW250 is worth a look for folks unsure if the two-wheel life is for them or not, and with a price tag just over four grand this rides qualifies as a financially low-risk test vehicle for an exploratory foray into the wind. It’s also a good commuter since the small engine will get you a break on insurance in most states.
Since nearly every sportbike manufacturer has a comparable model — to include the rest of the “Big Four” in Japan — pressure is high on Suzuki to deliver because brand loyalty developed early on has a tendency to stick.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki GW250.
2013 - 2017 Suzuki GW250
For the most part, the fairly naked GW250 family has been a direct carryover year to year since 2013. One notable exception to that would be the 2015 GW250F model carried a sporty front fairing and engine cowling with a windshield for a bit of protection, but thus far has not made the lineup for subsequent model years. The current GW250 was labeled the GW250Z in 2015, but it dropped the fairing and the “Z” and carries the same stripped-down look into the 2017 model year.
A minimal headlight can replaces the fairing, and low-profile cheek fairings house both the radiator and the front turn signals to keep the front end clean and compact. The upper lines are fairly sport-typical with a deep-scoop saddle nestled in the swale between tank and tail, and this is a ride built to share with a friend evidenced by the stock pillion pad and passenger footrests.
The rider triangle is what I would call a relaxed-jockey setup, and is balanced to allow for a confidence-inspiring upright riding position with room to lean forward in a more aggressive stance and clearance for a bit of body English. In short, just what you need for that sportbike feeling but with a low intimidation factor. If there is a downside here, it’s in the looks; they are a bit of a yawn if you ask me, but my inner pragmatist is OK with that.
Suzuki starts the GW250 out on a fairly conventional, tubular-steel frame that uses a single-downtube, double-cradle construction to support and protect the engine. Completely concealed by the front fairing on the ’15 “F” model, the frame remains inconspicuous even on the fairing-less models.
A yoke-style, double-side swingarm completes the assembly and is sprung by the coil-over monoshock tucked away well out of sight beneath the seat. While the rear shock sports a seven-position adjustable preload, the wet-fork front end comes without any sort of tuneability, but honestly that’s to be expected on such a small, economically priced ride. Rake and trail is set at 26-degrees and 4.1-inches, respectively, for a nimble ride that responds quickly to steering inputs, and the position of the foot controls places the rider in the jockey position with plenty of room for a little body English.
Much like the suspension, the brakes are plain vanilla with a single disc and twin-pot, piston-and-anvil caliper up front, a disc with a single-piston caliper in back and nothing in the way of ABS or linked brakes to clutter up the works. I learned to ride before such niceties existed, and think entry-level riders can benefit from using a bike like this to learn on, so that they can feel the forces at work and learn how to deal with them sans electronic augmentation, but that’s just my opinion so don’t hate me for it.
Since its inception in 2013, the GW250 range has run the same water-cooled, parallel-twin engine, and the ’17 model toes the family line as well. Almost square, the 53.5 mm bore and 55.2 mm stroke gives a total displacement of 248 cc with a warm, 11.5-to-1 compression ratio. A single over-head cam times the two-valve heads, and a simple electronic ignition system manages the spark. Overall, a fairly simple setup that shuns traction control and variable engine maps in favor of basic controls and honest feedback.
A conventional clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission, and a chain final drive make the final connection to the rear wheel. Power figures are about what one would expect with 26 horsepower and 18.6 pound-feet of torque, and if that seems a little timid, remember that the bike weighs just a few pounds over 400 soaking wet and that Suzuki is targeting the new-rider market. In other words, it’s probably just about right for its intended purpose.
MSRP on the GW250 is $4,099 for the 2017 model and comes in Pearl Nebular Black. Suzuki gives you a 12-month, unlimited-mileage, limited warranty with extensions available through Suzuki Extended Protection (SEP)|
My first inclination was to find a current competitor that was also a direct carryover from 2013, and the Honda CBR250R seemed to fit the bill with a similar engine size, but the front fairing and the whole race-replica look just seemed like it would appeal to a different sort of rider. Same thing, more or less, with the Kawasaki Ninja 300 SE. Ah, but Honda’s CB300F fits the look almost exactly, and the engine is close enough for government work, so that’s my pick for this head-to-head.
Side by side, the two look like brothers-from-another-mother, and are sure to appeal to would-be riders with an eye for naked streetfighters. Both are lean as a snake with minimal appointments, and at least to mine eyes, neither are particularly attractive. I leave it to you to judge the minute differences between the two.
Obviously the displacement advantage goes to Honda with its 286 cc mill versus the 248 cc lump in the Suzuki, but that’s not enough to make a difference in power output apparently since both rides crank out something right around 26 ponies. To be fair, the CB300F weighs in at 348-pounds wet versus 403-pounds with the GW250, and that by itself is enough to feel the difference in your heinie-dyno.
Chassis considerations fall along similar lines with 17-inch tires across the board, and a single, front disc brake with no ABS on tap. The rear shocks offer preload adjustments, but no other suspension features made it onto either ride. They had to keep the price down somehow.
Speaking of prices, they’re as similar as everything else on these two bikes. The GW250 carries the same $4,099 price tag it’s had since 2013, and the CB300F undercuts by a single bill for a $3,999 starting price. Both well within starter-bike range, and within spitting distance of one another.
My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says,“Looks like a good bike for budding naked-bike larvae, to be sure. If you are thinking about going the naked streetfighter route, you should be able to tell if that’s the style for you once you put a few thousand miles on a GW250. At less than five grand, you could almost treat it like a disposable bike, or maybe liquidate it for a couple grand when it’s time to upgrade, but whichever way you go, this is definitely a good place to start.”
My husband always thinks of these small-engine bikes as disposable and folks buying them will want to upgrade as soon as they learn to ride. I disagree. A bike like the GW250 is an awesome little weekender and the perfect commuter for someone who wants the convenience of a motorcycle with its lane-filtering ability, and the small engine for both fuel economy and less-expensive insurance. Personally, I would go more for the standard UJM or a cruiser style, I’m not such a big fan of the sportbike look, but lots of folks are and this is right up their alley."
|Engine:||248cc, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, SOHC|
|Fuel System:||Electronic fuel injection|
|Transmission:||6-speed constant mesh|
|Suspension Front:||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Suspension Rear:||Swingarm, coil spring, oil damped|
|Tires Front:||110/80Z-17 M/C 57H, tubeless|
|Tires Rear:||140/70Z-17 M/C 66H, tubeless|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||13.3 L (3.5 US gallons)|
|Ignition:||Electronic ignition (transistorized)|
|Dimensions and Curb Weight:|
|Overall Length:||2145 mm (84.4 in)|
|Overall Width:||760 mm (29.9 in)|
|Wheelbase:||1430 mm (56.3 in)|
|Ground Clearance:||165 mm (6.5 in)|
|Seat Height:||780 mm (30.7 in)|
|Curb Weight:||183 kg (403.4 lbs)|
|Warranty:||12-month, unlimited mileage, limited warranty|
|Extensions:||Extensions available through Suzuki Extended Protection (SEP)|
|Color:||Pearl Nebular Black|