Suzuki is looking to get a piece of the small-bike pie with its new GW250, a quasi-naked standard with spacious ergos, a docile engine, and a number of beginner-friendly features not found on the competition. We appreciate the GW's newbie-friendly parallel twin. It's low-tech and light on power—it cranks out just 21.2 hp at 8,200 rpm—but it's smooth and steady. All three of these motorcycles have counterbalancers, but the GW's works the best, so that the grips, footpegs, and other contact points remain relatively calm at all engine speeds. That's a good thing because the Suzuki is geared low and you'll frequently find the tach needle hovering near redline. You can take the GW on the freeway and keep up with traffic, but there's almost nothing left in reserve.
Around town, the Suzuki is a peach. Its smooth motor and comfy ergos are great for bopping around the city, and when you avoid the freeway, fuel economy jumps from the high 40s to the low 60s. The riding position is a little more upright than the Honda's and overall quite comfortable. The seat is the softest and so is the suspension, soaking up bumps at the expense of some stability in the corners.
Brake function is adequate and would no doubt be better if the bike weighed less.
The dash is the most comprehensive here, with helpful features like a gear-position indicator, maintenance reminder, and large turn signal lights. An adjustable front brake lever lets you tailor the reach so it's easier to keep the brake covered, and the clutch pull is light with progressive engagement.
The Suzuki's styling is polarizing. The little GW clearly inherited its looks from the B-King, and while it's not ugly for the same reasons as the 'King, the fact that it's reminiscent is unfortunate. And there's no hiding the fact that the GW is slow. The bike's wet weight doesn't help. At 405 pounds, it's the heaviest bike here: 22 pounds heftier than the Ninja and a whopping 49 pounds porkier than the lithe Honda.
Suzuki might not have put a huge amount of effort into engineering the GW250, but it still ended up with a competent little bike. It's the least expensive option at $3,999 and also the most comfortable. In the end, this is a good, if not mind-blowing, effort. Mostly, we're just glad to see another manufacturer joining the fray.