Suzuki GZ250 | Short Shift

Short, dark and handsome

With barely a year of riding experience under my belt, I enjoy the opportunity to test beginner's bikes whenever one rolls into the Motorcyclist garage. At 5-foot-2, I'm also looking for something that offers a comfortable fit. Fortunately for me, Suzuki recently gave us a GZ250 to try out. At first glance, the GZ looks dark and untamed. After taking it for a spin, however, I know better: With an unintimidating 249cc single-cylinder engine, a low 27.8-inch seat height and a light 331-lb. claimed curb weight, this mini-cruiser is a breeze to ride. It comes as no surprise that the GZ is employed at many Motorcycle Safety Foundation ( training sites.

This was my first experience with a cruiser, and it took some time to get used to the riding position compared to my Kawasaki Ninja 250. I now understand why people compare riding cruisers to leaning back in a recliner. Riding around town was fun and relaxing. I was now part of a different motorcycle culture, and the cruiser folk welcomed me with waves and nods. Riding the unfaired machine on the freeway was a different experience altogether, as the throttle was just about pinned at 65 mph yet I was still just about getting blown off the back!

The GZ250 is carbureted, so allow an extra 5 minutes for the bike to warm up on cold mornings. The choke is your friend, and you'll need to get used to using it. Once on the road, your rear end will appreciate the plush, two-piece seat. The seat is buttoned-down, which adds a touch of class. The rest of the GZ's styling is nice enough, but a little too plain for my taste. After riding the Kymco Quannon 150 with its tachometer and digital speedometer, I was disappointed by the Suzuki's solitary speedo. The GZ is easy to maneuver and very stable, but the engine vibrates annoyingly at high rpm. Placement of the rearview mirrors is good, but they're difficult to see once that vibration kicks in. The seating position is perfect for a petite person like moi, but I imagine it would be cramped for taller riders.

Overall the GZ250 is a great beginner's bike, especially when you take into account that it only costs $2999 and gets upwards of 80 miles per gallon. Since the little Suzuki is so comfortable and easy to ride, it will help newbies develop their skills in no time. After riding it, my confidence was through the roof! I suspect I would outgrow this bike's performance relatively quickly, but I would definitely recommend it to those who are just starting out and need an easy-to-manage motorcycle.

tech SPEC
Price $2999
Engine type a-c single
Valve train OHC, 2v
Displacement 249cc
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower 20.1 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Claimed torque 13.8 lb.-ft. @ 7000 rpm
Frame Steel semi-double cradle
Front suspension Showa 37mm fork
Rear suspension Showa twin shocks with adj. preload
Front brake AJP single-piston caliper, 275mm disc
Rear brake 130mm drum
Front tire 110/90-16 Metzeler Perfect ME77
Rear tire 130/90-15 Metzeler Perfect ME77
Seat height 27.8 in.
Wheelbase 57.1 in.
Fuel capacity 2.9 gal.
Claimed curb weight 331 lbs.

VERDICT 4 out of 5 stars
An affordable, fuel-efficient, confidence-building mini-cruiser.

Honda's Rebel 250 is better known, but Suzuki's GZ250 is also a stylish mini-cruiser. The company recently reduced the price by a full $1000, from $3999 to $2999.