2018 Suzuki GSX250R Review

Suzuki’s new miniature GSX-R…isn’t a GSX-R at all.

The 2018 Suzuki GSX250R has looks inspired by the GSX-R family, but it was designed more with the practical approach of the Katana series in mind.

Suzuki's goal for their 2018 GSX250R was to capture both new and returning riders with a fresh small-capacity sport bike. Call it adventitious, call it bold—but whatever you do, don't call their new bike a "Gixxer". From the words of Tak Hayasaki, president of Suzuki Motor of America, "Why are we coming into the market with a 250cc bike now? We're focused on practicality, and we see this bike as being bought by those who want an experience—a bike that will last them many, many years." Be it as it might, some of you out there will still be wondering why Suzuki decided not to punch the GSX250R's parallel-twin powerplant up to 300cc, a completely justifiable quandary.

It might bear a striking resemblance to its larger GSX-R cousins, but it draws its biggest inspiration from the Katana lineage—blending rideability with reliability. This concept, Suzuki hopes, will help convince new owners to hold on to their bike for a longer period of time, as opposed to being in a rush to replace it. This also explains the “GSX” part of the name, as the earlier Katana line featured the same model designation. It’s still not enough to make me think that calling it the “GSX-R250” would have been too detrimental, as the more recognizable name would fetch more interest.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
There’s no denying that the styling works—and works well!Suzuki

THE TECH

Right out of the gate, Suzuki's new GSX250R checks all the right boxes in the looks department. From the sleek, stylish bodywork, down to the GSX-R1000R-inspired headlight and taillight, Suzuki's new mini machine sure screams, "I'm a sport bike," however it quickly apologizes for raising its voice at you with comfortable, upright ergonomics and simplistic controls.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
An easy-to-read digital gauge relays all the necessary information to the rider in real-time, and doesn’t feel cheap.Suzuki

At the heart of this minuscule beast is a parallel-twin, 248cc engine that some of the more eagle-eyed readers will notice bears a certain similarity to Suzuki’s older engine from the GW250. Luckily for you, they’ve since updated it, and it now features redesigned valves that have a new tapered profile, a better cylinder wall finish that retains oil, and rollers on the rocker arms. They’ve also added new throttle bodies that house new injectors. What this boils down to is this: Suzuki have increased the durability, flow, RPM ceiling, fuel economy, and compression while lowering the emissions.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
The controls keep the riding position more upright, far more comfortable during longer rides.Suzuki

Suspension comes in the form of a standard, telescopic fork in the front, and a standard, preload-adjustable shock in the rear. Neither are adjustable for compression or rebound damping, which is par for the course at this price point. New 10-spoke, 17 inch wheels at both the front and rear aid with aftermarket tire selection, and the 31.1-inch seat height welcomes riders of shorter stature—as does the narrow seat profile itself.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
The seat is comfortable, and narrow enough that the 31.1-inch seat height does not feel intimidating to shorter riders.Suzuki

Suzuki claims their GSX250R’s 4.0-gallon tank will stretch the bike’s range to about 280 miles—doing the math will show that they’re assuming 70mpg. Not too bad, but similar to the estimates for 300cc bikes claimed by other manufacturers.

THE RIDE

San Pedro, California was the sunny (and brutally warm) site of our road test, a good mixture of city streets bustling with traffic, and flowing hillside littered with twists and turns. Straight away, the GSX250R felt nice and planted, and I was indeed impressed with the overall fit and finish of the machine. The digital dash is high-contrast and easy enough to read and featured a bar-type RPM gauge. The seating position was comfortable for my 30-inch inseam—as well as some of my taller counterparts.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
I was pleasantly surprised with the ride quality of the GSX250R. Sure, the suspension was a hair on the soft side, but it handled corners well enough, and the brakes did a good job of slowing the bike down in time.Suzuki

Although this bike is heavier than we’d prefer at 392lbs, the steering geometry was quick and made the bike feel light on its feet. The suspension wasn’t anything to write home about; a rather springy front fork mixed with a very basic rear shock did all it could to soak up the irregularities in the road, but was easily overloaded under harder braking. Good enough, but not great. Braking itself was definitely another strong suit as well.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
Is the GSX250R the ultimate around-town commuter motorcycle? If you’re sold on Suzuki’s styling and don’t mind the slightly smaller displacement, I’d say it’s a good choice.Suzuki

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d like to thank Suzuki for including an adjustable front brake lever—something too often overlooked in a bike that’s meant for people of all shapes and sizes. It’s a small detail, but I appreciate it. The six-speed transmission was—to my surprise—noticeably smooth. The engine provided decent grunt, and although it might technically be outclassed in the power area, it pulled strong across the RPM range, and I never felt like it was struggling while pulling me up any hills.

THE VERDICT

The Suzuki GSX250R is a solid little motorcycle—if what you’re looking for is practicality over performance. Their reasoning for not bumping up the displacement to 300cc comes down to reliability and ease of use, mainly. I applaud them for the angle they’re going for—they made a point to state that this bike still features tappet-style valves (for easy adjustments), and they’re even offering a complete “Oil Change Kit” available separately at the dealerships that contains everything needed to change your own oil.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
It’s still strange to me that Suzuki didn’t decide to punch the engine out to a competitive 300cc, but at least the inclusion of roller-type rockers, new cylinder coating and redesigned valves make for a better version of the engine than found in the earlier GW250.Suzuki

While this bike won't win any drag races against its closest twin-cylinder competitors, the linear power delivery is on-par with Honda's single-cylinder CBR300R. With a $4,499 price tag, it's a bit cheaper than the Honda CB300R, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Yamaha R3, while still offering a high level of fit and finish, comfort, and enjoyment. Again, I understand Suzuki's idea behind the bike, but personally I'd spend a small amount more for any of the other bikes which all offer more power and still return excellent fuel economy.

It still makes me wonder though—why not employ the same line of thinking behind the GSX250R, but with a 300cc engine? It seems like a logical step, seeing as how all the direct competitors have already made the jump. It seems then, that only time will tell if Suzuki will eventually come around and join the 300cc troupe.

TECH SPEC

Evolution: A newly-designed, small-capacity sport bike that borrows from older designs to provide a practical approach.

TECH
PRICE $4,499
ENGINE 248cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER N/A
CLAIMED TORQUE N/A
FRAME Aluminum semi double-cradle frame
FRONT SUSPENSION Telescopic fork, non-adjustable; 4.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Single shock adjustable for spring preload; 4.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Two-piston Nissin caliper, single disc
REAR BRAKE Single-piston Nissin caliper, single disc
RAKE/TRAIL 25.6°/4.1 in.
WHEELBASE 56.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.1 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.0 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 392 lb. (dry)
AVAILABLE Fall 2017
CONTACT suzukicycles.com

Verdict: Comfortable, punctual, and very useable—a solid choice if you don't mind taking a bit of a hit in the horsepower area.

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
BRODY'S GEAR
Helmet: Shoei RF-1200 Parameter
Jacket: Alpinestars T-GP Pro Air
Gloves: Highway 21 Trigger
Boots: Dainese Anfibio Café
Suzuki