The Quintessential Entry-Level Bike

After a race to find the ideal maximum displacement for the adventure-bike genre, Suzuki has now turned its attention toward seeking out the bottom of the effective envelope with the new-in-2017 V-Strom 250. This A2 license-compliant ride is bound for the entry-level market with much the same look as its bigger brothers in spite of its diminutive powerplant and a similar affinity for long-distance trips. The mill is tweaked for the purpose with 25 ponies on tap and a smooth delivery, and of course, the “250” sports plenty of secure storage and storage options for your cargo, so you can actually do some proper touring with it, right off the showroom floor. What else has Suzuki got going on with its mini-adv? Let’s find out.

Continue reading for my look at the Suzuki V-Strom 250.

Design

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250
- image 786826
In spite of its compact size it still manages to hit all the usual adventure-bike design characteristics without it looking forced.

Like its brethren, the 250 rocks a bird’s-beak fairing. But, unlike the larger models, I like the look of the 250’s entry. Maybe its the minimal construction and impact on the looks, but I don’t hate this one, even if it’s made superfluous by the full-length fender over the front tire and thus, not actually necessary to contain the fling.

A cyclops headlight rides nestled atop the entry with a small, vented windshield to give the rider some protection without adding the kind of drag you get from a full-size screen. Turn-signal standoffs finish off the forward lighting, and while they don’t look bad, they could look better integrated with the mirrors or into some stock handguards. I say “stock” because currently, the guards are an optional accessory only.

An LCD instrument cluster comes with a brow to shade the screen from light sources ahead of the bike, but little else. Below all of that, the fairing opens up into an abbreviated cowling that helps guide the incoming air over the radiator and engine then away from the rider, and since the 250 is rather open, the convection has little chance to accumulate, even when stationary.

A 4.5-gallon fuel tank gives the 250 that adventure-some profile that so clearly sets it apart from other standard-based machines with plenty of drop to the pilot’s seat to put the rider in the bike. The rider’s triangle allows for a relaxed, upright posture, but isn’t necessarily very good for standing on the pegs; it’s a little cramped for most body types. Granted, that probably isn’t an issue for most of us, but there it is anyway.

A slight rise up to the p-pad leaves the rider with a nice butt-bucket and the passenger with an elevated platform that should deliver plenty of visibility and fresh air. Subframe mounted, flip-up footpegs and grab rails complete the usual equipment, but if you spring for one of the optional touring packages you’ll get the top case that comes with a built-in backrest for even more comfort and security.

A pair of hard cases add to the storage capacity that comes with the optional packages and give the 250 its roadtrip-ability and grocery-getting capacity with plenty of potential to make a solid little commuter if you skin that checkbook for the accessories.

As with the lights up front, the taillight is neatly recessed into the tip of the tail but the turn signals are mounted on whiskers. A rather longish mudguard contains the spray out back and mounts the tag to wrap things up. Overall, in spite of its compact size it still manages to hit all the usual adv-bike design characteristics without it looking forced.

Chassis

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250
- image 786824
The non-adjustable forks deliver a firm overall ride that ain't perfect but is better than being too soft.

A single-downtube/double-cradle frame provides the structure and completely supports the engine rather than using the mill as a structural member. You can barely see all that though, as the radiator and bash plate conceal most of it.

Right-way-up, hydraulic forks support the front end with a rectangular cross-section, yoke-style swingarm and coil-over shock to handle business out back. (No giggety.) Really, the stems are straight-up vanilla with naught but the courtesy preload adjuster out back to control the ride quality, and the non-adjustable forks deliver a firm overall ride that ain’t perfect but is better than being too soft.

At 414 pounds, the 250 can get away with a single petal-cut disc up front to match the one out back, especially with the ABS oversight that comes as part of the standard equipment package. Symmetrical wheels round out the rolling chassis with 17-inch cast-aluminum rims and a 110/80 and 140/70 hoop on the front and rear, respectively. Yeah, the chassis is rather simple, but that’s not unexpected given the displacement and price point.

Front suspension: Telescopic, coil spring oil damped
Rear suspension: Swingarm type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes, Front / Rear: Disc brake / Disc brake
Tires, Front / Rear: 110/80-17M/C 57H / 140/70-17M/C 66H

Drivetrain

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250
- image 786831
Electronic fuel injection and ignition systems manage the engine, but that's as far as the fandanglery goes.

Suzuki drives its littlest V-Strom with a 248 cc parallel-twin powerplant. Liquid cooling makes it more comfortable and reliable in stop-and-go conditions with the additional benefit of damping the mechanical noises within the cases for an overall quieter ride. The engine is laid out with a 53.5 mm bore and 55.2 mm stroke with an 11.5-to-1 compression ratio that’ll put you at the premium pump every time.

Electronic fuel injection and ignition systems manage the engine, but that’s as far as the fandanglery goes as this machine mounts nothing in the way of traction control or rider modes. That’s OK, it’s meant to be a simple bike, and of course, there’s the price to consider.

Power flows through a standard clutch and a six-speed, constant-mesh transmission with a claimed 25 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 17.26 pound-feet of torque at 6,500. To be honest, that’s a little weak for the weight, and by the time you add a passenger’s weight and some cargo, you can expect to have difficulty pulling hills and getting up to highways speeds. Still, it’s appropriate for the entry level and riders looking for a non-threatening commuter.

Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin
Displacement: 248 cc
Bore x Stroke: 53.5 mm x 55.2 mm
Compression ratio: 11.5 : 1
Power: 18.4 kW @ 8,000 rpm (24.7 hp)
Torque: 23.40 Nm @ 6,500 rpm (17.26 lb-ft)
Lubrication: Wet-sump
Starter: Electric
Ignition: Electronic ignition
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Drive: Chain

Pricing

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250
- image 786827
MSRP comes in at £4.6k and adding an accessory package pushes that maybe up to another grand.

The stock 2018 V-Strom 250 rolls for £4,599. Buyers looking for the full cargo capacity will have to spring for the Adventure Accessory Pack at £549 or the £999 Grand Tourer Accessory Pack, or buy the bags individually. As for colors, buyers can expect to choose between Pearl Nebular Black, Metallic Diamond Red, or a Pearl Nebular Black/Solid Dazzling Cool Yellow two-tone colorway.

Accessory Package:IncludesAdditional Price
Grand Tourer: Top Case Kit, Side Case Kit with Lock Set, Knuckle Guard Set, Center Stand +£999
Adventure: Top Case Kit, Top Case Adapter Plate, Knuckle Guard Set, Center Stand +£549

Competitors

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300
- image 744726
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 250
- image 786833
You'll pay for more power on the Versys, so you'll have to decide for yourself how badly you want that handful of ponies.

Longtime domestic competitor Kawasaki seems to have a pretty good match for the V-Strom 250 with its adventure-tastic Versys-X 300 ABS. Kawi favors a blunt nose not entirely unlike Honda’s Africa Twin, but in this case I actually prefer the bird’s beak on the V-Strom. The Versys sports a taller windshield for a bit more protection, and like the Suzuki, the handguards and bags are considered accessories to be bought after the fact.

Suzuki gets a slight edge in dry storage though, since it seems Kawi neglected to design a top case for its model but instead offers a simple stock luggage rack. Kawasaki doesn’t waste any resources on a fancy suspension system and keeps it vanilla, same as Suzuki, and offers the same single front disc and ABS protection so it gains nothing here either.

When we consider the engines, it’s clear that Kawasaki starts to gain an edge with a claimed 39.3 horsepower and 19 pounds o’ grunt, and that’s a difference you’ll definitely feel in the seat of your pants. ’Course, you’ll pay for that power to the tune of £5,149, a skosh more than the V-Strom, so you’ll have to decide for yourself how badly you want that handful of ponies.

He Said

“Yes indeed! The V-Strom 250 fills an important niche in the genre nicely, I just wonder if the factory shot itself in the foot with the soft performance profile. It’s probably alright for a newbie, but experienced riders will find themselves wanting a bit more response and hill-pulling power.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I kinda like the big cyclops headlamp, but I know plenty of folks who don’t. It’s a nice-looking bike, which I don’t usually say about a V-Strom. It’s quite small and unintimidating, and it’s very budget-priced, which isn’t a bad thing. It just is. I think taller folks will feel cramped. For all its budget plainness, it does have a couple of surprises, such as a 12v socket and a gear indicator on the instrument cluster.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin
Displacement: 248 cc
Bore x Stroke: 53.5 mm x 55.2 mm
Compression ratio: 11.5 : 1
Power: 18.4 kW @ 8,000 rpm (24.7 hp)
Torque: 23.40 Nm @ 6,500 rpm (17.26 lb-ft)
Lubrication: Wet-sump
Starter: Electric
Ignition: Electronic ignition
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Front suspension: Telescopic, coil spring oil damped
Rear suspension: Swingarm type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes, Front / Rear: Disc brake / Disc brake
Tires, Front / Rear: 110/80-17M/C 57H / 140/70-17M/C 66H
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall length 2150 mm (84.65 in)
Overall width 790 mm (31.10 in)
Overall height 1295 mm (50.98 in)
Wheelbase 1425 mm (56.10 in)
Ground clearance 160 mm (6.30 in)
Seat height 790 mm (31.1 in)
Kerb mass 188 kg (414.5 lbs)
Fuel capacity 17.3 litres (4.6 US gallons)
Fuel Economy 88.28 mpg
Details:
Colors: Pearl Nebular Black/Solid Dazzling Cool Yellow, Metallic Diamond Red, Pearl Nebular Black
Price: £4,599

References

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 ABS

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300
- image 744708

See our review of the Kawasaki Versys-X300 ABS.

Honda Africa Twin

2018 Honda Africa Twin
- image 781532

See our review of the Honda Africa Twin.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: suzuki.co.uk, kawasaki.com, honda.com

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