Vintage Triumphs and the ilk are all the rage these days, and if you’re looking to recreate that look with a dependable and halfway affordable “modern” motorcycle (smart move), the Suzuki TU250X is just about the only game in town, provided your town isn’t in California, for emissions reasons, apparently. The beauty of the TU is that it’s as simple to ride as it is to look at. Hit the starter and off you go; it even has vintage throttle response (a slight stumble off the bottom followed by a lot of muffled noise and adequate-for-a-250 acceleration), and the shifter sorts through the five-speed gearbox like a veteran DMV worker; slow and inexact but steady.
Meanwhile, the red needle on the speedo climbs around the dial like the depth meter in a WWII submarine movie, leveling out finally at a slightly optimistic 76 mph—fast enough for around town and for short freeway runs. Even tapped out, it’s not too buzzy, and flog though we might, we never managed to get less than 62 mpg from the fuel-injected two-valver.
Since the TU weighs just 326 pounds with a full load of 3.2 gallons of fuel, and since the comfy seat’s barely 30 inches high, it begs to be spanked around town like the cute little tart it is—twin shocks, right-side-up fork, disc/drum brakes and tube-filled skinny tires doing their damnedest to keep you between the ditches and SUVs while you twist the throttle obsessive-compulsively to stay one step ahead of the pack. Little bikes are big fun.
As a matter of fact, the only major thing we can find wrong with the TU is this: For the exact same $3999, you can now get a brand-new Honda CBR250R, which is to the TU what a Bombay Sapphire martini is to a warm juice box. All depends on what you like.