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2013 Suzuki GW250 First Ride Review

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Entry-level motorcycles have gained traction in the recent years, as manufacturers court new ridership with affordable, small-displacement mounts that still deliver practical performance. Suzuki Motor Company adds another entry to the class with its all-new GW250 naked standard. Suzuki chose the AIMExpo in Orlando to give the media its first sampling of the GW, with MotoUSA along for the ride.

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Branded as the Inazuma 250 outside of the US market, the GW250 took its sweet time arriving in the States. Having debuted at the company’s dealer show last year, the 2013 model is just now hitting the sales floor as Suzuki finally settled on its $3999 MSRP.

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2013 Suzuki GW250 First Ride Video
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Watch Suzuki's latest entry-level bike in action in the 2013 Suzuki GW250 First Ride video review.
 
Suzuki well deserves budget bike status with its sub $4K price tag. It undercuts its nearest rival, Honda’s CBR250R, by $200 (even more factoring Honda’s $310 destination charge). Remarkably, the GW250 is also more affordable than its fellow entry-level Suzuki kin, the $4399 TU250X – an older retro-styled 249cc Single that is currently not for sale in California because of emission regulations.

A liquid-cooled Parallel Twin powers the GW, with a single overhead cam actuating the two-valve cylinder heads. The undersquare engine incorporates a 53.5mm bore and 55.2mm stroke to displace 248cc. Suzuki claims 24 horsepower from its little GW mill, with peak torque 16.2 lb-ft. Neither stat gets the better of its 250 rivals from Honda and Kawasaki – with Suzuki’s own data rating the CBR250 at 26 hp/16.89 lb-ft and Ninja 250 at 32.1 hp/16.2 lb-ft (the Ninja 300 claiming an even bigger advantage).

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On the road the GW250 engine performance is most reminiscent of the older Ninja 250, with the real power kicking in up high. But, unlike the Ninja, the GW doesn’t rev to the moon – instead topping out at 11,000 rpm. Riding 40 miles, give or take, on Orlando surface streets and freeways, our tach consistently stayed up between 8-11K.

Off the bottom there ain’t a whole lot of beans on tap, but the Suzuki revs quick and throttles up to speed just fine. I topped out on the freeway at 81 mph – and could have gone faster with more open space, but not much more. Freeway performance is capable enough, though passing power above 70 mph takes some time.

A gear-driven balancer shaft does an effective job keeping the GW’s Twin from getting too buzzy. At the higher rpm that it prefers the vibrations do manifest – but nothing egregious. In our estimation it’s on par with the CBR250R in this regard.

For novice riders, the engine’s best feature is its forgiving throttle and smooth fueling. Even purposely hamfisted inputs saw the fuel-injected GW meter out a drama-free linear power delivery. It’s a completely unintimidating engine package.

The six-speed transmission is another highlight for the GW. The clutch engages with reassuring feel at the lever and the bike is mindlessly easy to launch. A well-sorted gearbox ensures confident shifts, and neutral is super easy to find – a trait that more expensive and refined bikes would have trouble replicating. Oh, and the GW always lets riders know what gear they are in thanks to the handy gear position indicator on the dash (more on this later).

As far as handling goes, our best corners in Orlando were preceded by Exit # signage, so it’s difficult to say how the GW250 will perform during spirited backroad jaunts. The few turns I did encounter, and later simulated in the convention center parking lot, saw the Suzuki turn-in reasonably quick – perhaps not as fast as its quick-turning CBR and Ninja rivals, but maybe less twitchy too. In motion the bike doesn’t feel particularly heavy, but the GW’s 403 pound curb weight is somehow about 20 to 40 pounds more than its fully-faired 250/300 rivals.

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The GW fares better for city use where its non-adjustable fork and seven-step preload adjustable shock, both from Kayaba, suck up the pavement. The settings are soft and springy but made for a comfortable and steady ride over poor and pristine surfaces alike during our sightseeing tour of Orlando metro sprawl – making the GW an ideal commuting platform.

A single-disc front brake pinched by two-piston Nissin calipers brings things to a halt with a stern squeeze on the lever. The rear brake plays its part too, though the IRC tire breaks loose with even a moderate stomp on the pedal (ABS not available even as an option). The underwhelming components get the job done, and I’ll cut the front brake some slack for the nice five-position lever adjustment.


Riding position on the GW will accommodate a wide range of riders. It’s a small bike, but at 6’1” I did not feel overly cramped at the controls. Credit goes to the handlebars, which are placed high and encourage an upright stance along with the footpeg placement. Suzuki is keen to note the 30.7-inch seat height is lowest in class (4mm shorter than the CBR), making for an easy each to the ground. I was more appreciative of the seat’s contours, which kept me from running forward into the tank, a pet peeve, and the perch proved comfortable for our admittedly brief stint in the saddle.

This new Suzuki is manufactured in China, carrying all the baggage such a designation implies. That said, fit and finish on the GW impressed. I found the controls and bodywork solid and sturdy. It doesn’t feel like a cheap, flimsy knockoff – instead it presents itself as a well-made machine. The instrument console is the highlight in this regard – with an analog speedo offset by several idiot lights on the left and an LCD display on the right. The latter incorporates a digital speedo and fuel gauge. Inset within the tach is another small LCD housing the gear position indicator, one of our personal favorites in a dashboard display and a real boon for novice riders too.

Some riders will not find it in themselves to stomach the GW’s styling. Suzuki claims the short-lived B-King inspired the GW250 lines, particularly evident in the headlight assembly. I’d say the little 250 is more an amalgam of the B-King and Gladius naked. Sure, the massive beak of a fender appears determined to wrap entirely around the front tire and don't do the GW any favors, but overall I’d say the looks ain’t half bad. Then again, I liked the B-King too...

After a couple hours on the GW250 it showed true promise as an affordable entry-level platform and commuter bike. Whether it will outperform the CBR250R head to head is another matter, but it definitely fills a niche as the lone standard naked of the quarter-liter ranks in the US. Talking with a handful of the gathered Suzuki dealers in Orlando, they all seemed eager to have the GW, at last, as a counter against the affordable price-of-entries to Honda and Kawasaki.

The entry-level motorcycle class continues to grow and Suzuki has contributed a solid addition. While performance isn’t overwhelming, the GW250 is an inviting user-friendly platform to coax new riders into the Suzuki ranks. Add its lowest-in-class price point at $3999 and the GW could very well be a new staple for Hamamatsu.

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2013 Suzuki GW250 Specifications
Engine: Liquid-cooled SOHC Parallel Twin
Displacement: 248cc
Bore x Stroke: 53.5 x 55.2mm
Compression: 11.5:1
Fueling: EFI
Transmission: Six-speed
Clutch: Wet multi-plate
Front Suspension: Kayaba conventional fork, non-adjustable
Rear Suspension: Kayaba shock seven-step adjustable for preload
Front Brake: Single disc,
Rear Brake: Single disc
Tires: 110/80-17, 140/70-17
Rake: 26 degrees
Trail: 4.1 inches
Wheelbase: 56.3 inches
Seat height: 30.7 inches
Curb weight: 402 pounds
Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.5 gallons
MSRP: $3999 
 
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Comments
oldtimernohio   December 6, 2013 10:32 AM
Why does everyone assume a 250cc bike is just for first-time riders. I have been riding sense 1968 and have owned several bikes. I happen to like the 250-500cc STANDARD bikes because they are effortless riders. A bigger bike has to be "driven" and only when it's a sunny day. Yes, I think the big hogs are cool, but I would never own one. Same goes for the Sport bikes - killer performance, but I don't want to lie down to ride a bike. The GW250 shows promise as a great little everyday rider at a price that puts it in a class by itself, today.
Toobigfora250   November 16, 2013 08:27 PM
A disclaimer....I am fairly new to motorcycles. With that being said I love this motorcycle. I previously started my journey on two wheeled motorized vehicles by building a motorized bicycle. I moved up to a cheap Chinese scooter, and then a 2007 Honda nighthawk 250. I purchased this motorcycle 3 days ago and I am well pleased. One of my biggest praises for this motorcycle is the fact that it offers sporty styling without forcing me to basically lay forward while riding. It has a very capable 248cc engine which allows me to commute back and forth to work in the up and down and windy Texas hill country. I love the styling and the host of features included at this price point. The fuel injection makes the throttle smooth, the gears feel solid and are easy to use, and Ihave just enough power to handle hills and passing without killing myself as a motorcycle newbie. I think this bike will be a hit for people like me who like motorcycle styling in an unintinidating engine and gearbox package with the fuel efficiency equal to a scooter. I would definitely recommend this motorcycle to anyone who loves riding but does feel the need to get a sports bike for more acceleration or a cruiser with a huge engine attached along with a hefty price tag. By the way I am 6'3" and over 200 pounds. Great job Suzuki!
suitcasejefferson   November 14, 2013 05:50 PM
I love this bike, and am planning on buying one. I would have already bought the TU250, but it has tube type tires and no centerstand, so it is likely to leave you stranded. I see this as a standard style bike. I have sat on it and it feels comfortable, something the CBR and Ninja are most definitely NOT. I sold a Ninja 500 about a year ago, because it was too painful for me to ride. I hate race replicas, both their looks and their riding position. You simply cannot compare this to a "sport" bike. And I am not a beginner, I have been riding 40+ years, and have had about that many bikes. Suzuki has a winner here. And AS a beginner bike, it is far more rider friendly than a Ninja or CBR.
Poncho167   October 30, 2013 02:44 PM
I like it, but as a communter miles-per-gallon should have been included in the write-up. I would think somewhere in the mid-70's per gallon.
Biddy   October 29, 2013 11:00 PM
I'm sorry--an ultra ugly, ultra complicated (liquid cooling?)ninja bike: made in China, for Christ's Sake? This thing is appealing only to those kids who don't live in our world, and when they bite and are faced with stop signs, slow semis and actual traffic laws, will be bitterly disappointed. OK. They'll wear a back-pack to carry the books in, but watch out for the BMX riders, whose bikes weigh 15 times less. What the hell is this thing for? You can't go for a weekend or carry two people or cruise a concours. Four thousand is a stiff penalty to pay for popping over to the mini-mart for some corn nuts. That amount can get you a nice used BMW that can at least get you as far as New Mexico!
Piglet2010   October 24, 2013 04:25 PM
I would rather spend a bit more and get a Honda CRF250L which is just as street capable, but also quite good off-road (or wait for the inevitable CRF300L). In house, the upcoming Burgman 200 should be close to the same price (especially if you consider the cost of adding a top box to the GW250) and performance, with scooter practicality.
GAJ   October 24, 2013 01:18 PM
How can the last one to the party manage to miss every performance measure vs. the competition? How can a twin produce less power than a single of the same engine size? I love my DRZ400SM and would have thought Suzuki would have done better with this bike. With the Honda 250 soon to be replaced by a 300cc version Suzuki has a sales floor slug on their hands sadly. Wait for the fire sale I say if you're interested in this bike.
neo1piv014   October 24, 2013 07:00 AM
I think the Ninja 300 and CBR 250 comparisons are natural just because of the price point, though you could just as easily compare it to the KLX250 or the CRF250L. Unlike the Ninja 300, you probably won't be seeing this at a track, but that's not remotely why they made it. A reliable machine that is cheap to purchase, insure, fuel, and maintain is the kind of bike that many city dwellers would want.
kz1000st   October 24, 2013 05:03 AM
Here we go again. How will it stack up against a Ninja or CBR? Who cares? There are a lot of people who DON'T need hyperactive thyroid bikes to curl them up into uncomfortable tucks and test their man...personhood. Re-read what you said here. An able commuter bike. Something to ride to work and back without looking like a refugee from a racetrack. Here's the most important part. "it definitely fills a niche as the lone standard naked of the quarter-liter ranks in the US."
JSH   October 23, 2013 07:34 PM
A newly introduced beginner bike without the option of ABS? Someone needs to tell Suzuki that the year is 2013 not 2003.