Orlando, Florida—Thirty-three miles is by no means a long ride, but for media invited to the inaugural AIMExpo for the launch of the 2013 Suzuki GW250, that distance was just enough to gather early impressions about this new entry-level streetbike.
Launched last year but arriving only now at U.S. dealers, the liquid-cooled 248cc parallel-twin is pitched as a two-wheel bridge to larger-displacement models for younger and/or less-experienced riders. Unlike the retro-styled single-cylinder TU250X, the more modern-looking GW250 is equipped with an evaporative canister, allowing it to meet California emissions and be sold in the Golden State.
Why the delivery delay? Suzuki isn’t saying. Production takes place in China—with Suzuki engineers overseeing assembly to maintain quality standards—helping reduce MSRP to $3,999. That’s a couple hundred bucks less than Honda’s single-cylinder CBR250R and a grand below the popular Kawasaki Ninja 300.
Factor in user-friendliness and the GW250 is an even better bargain. Its fuel-injected, SOHC, two-valve-per-cylinder engine starts immediately, idles smoothly, and, in Orlando, accelerated cleanly in second gear from an indicated 6 mph all the way to its 11,000-rpm redline, a gear-driven-counterbalancer killing most upper-rpm buzz. Suzuki claims 24 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 16 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm.
Styled to resemble the discontinued Hayabusa-powered B-King—albeit with low-slung chromed mufflers as opposed to the B-King’s underseat bazookas—the GW250 uses a semi-double-cradle, mild-steel frame suspended by a 37mm Kayaba fork and a seven-way spring-preload-adjustable Kayaba shock. Three-spoke, 17-inch cast aluminum wheels are wrapped with bias-ply IRC Road Winner tires in 110/80 and 140/70 sizes.
Suited for riders small or tall, the upright seating position is roomy, and the stepped saddle is broad and well padded. Suzuki says seat height is 30.7 inches. A five-way span-adjustable brake lever should accommodate a wide range of hand sizes. With its 3.5-gallon gas tank filled to capacity, this economical Suzuki will deliver owners back and forth across town or over state lines.
The slim instrument panel is feature-rich, with a large analog tachometer and a digital gear-position indicator, a digital speedometer, an odometer, twin trip meters, a clock and fuel gauge, and a maintenance-interval indicator. “Position” lamps flank the angular headlight, and turn signals with white lenses are built into the fuel-tank covers. A large passenger grab handle is standard.
Our largely stop-and-go suburban loop was a good test for the claimed 403-pound GW, known overseas as the Inazuma. Clutch take-up was smooth, and directional changes required little effort. Though light on bite, the 290mm front disc brake delivered consistent power; the 240mm rear brake locked easily. Neutral was a snap to find from either first or second rolling or stopped. On the highway at an indicated 60 mph, the engine was turning 7,000 rpm in sixth gear. Large mirrors provided a decent rear view.
While the 2013 GW250 is offered in one color, Pearl Nebular Black, the otherwise-identical ’14 model is expected to arrive early next summer in a second color: Metallic Triton Blue/Pearl Glacier White. Factory accessories include a sport windscreen, top case, magnetic tank bag, centerstand, crash bars, as well as various covers and trim pieces.
How will the Suzuki GW250 stack up against its entry-level competition? Looks like we need to have a head-to-head quarter-liter comparison. Stay tuned.