The heart of the Suzuki PE 250 was a 250cc two-stroke motor with heavy flywheels and reed-valve induction.
There are some bikes which inspire awe and others which generate loathing. Mainly though, motorcycles are memorable merely because they are solidly unremarkable. These machines have a brief period of being fashionable and desirable in their own time, and then fade into obscurity.
Then, very rarely, there appears a bike which engenders affection - a motorcycle which is the true embodiment of the mechanical horse. The Suzuki PE 250B was one of these special machines.
The PE250B designation is both elegant and mundane. PE stands for "Pure Enduro" to show that the bike was first, last, and middle a dirt bike with only a passing nod to road use. Why "B"? Suzuki briefly had a flirtation with numbering model years by letter and "B" refers to 1977. This means that there never was an "A" model.
By 1976, Suzuki had amassed huge successes in Grand Prix motocross and had made a very passable dual purpose trail bike in the TS250A, which was more than competent off-road. However, the serious enduro market was still dominated by European manufacturers - KTM in particular, which sold under the Penton trademark in America. It was the Penton market for which the PE was targeted.
The heart of the PE was a 250cc two-stroke motor with heavy flywheels and reed-valve induction. The engine made only 28bhp @ 8,000 rpm but pulled like a freight train. Even regular PE riders were often amazed at how the PE could slog up the steepest climb, or through the most glutinous bog, with the reed petals clattering merrily away and the heavy flywheels keeping the motor turning.
Much as the Suzuki PE 250 won the hearts of its riders, the bike did not benefit from a serious and sustained development program.
At the other end of the scale, the PE was no slouch either. Using a large, 36mm Mikuni carburetor, a well prepared PE was good for in excess of 80mph on shale roads and the sweet, five speed gearbox and bomb-proof clutch meant the motor never tired, no matter how hard it was ridden.
Compared with the Pentons, Husqvarnas and Montesas the PE had a docile handling which was a handicap in tight going and on special tests. The plus side was that the bike flattered the most inept of riders. PE pilots had to go out of their way to crash the bikes - in stark contrast with the Pentons which spat their riders off at every opportunity.
The Suzuki was also incredibly rugged and well made, compared with the European opposition. Given a clean air-filter, a PE would cover 1,000 racing miles with nothing more than washing, chain adjustment and refueling. The forks never leaked, the brakes worked well after being drowned and the bike started first kick - hot or cold. The PE was almost indestructible too. Anyone who actually managed to bend a PE in a crash was sure to contemplate the error of his ways from a hospital bed.
Much as the PE won the hearts of its riders, the bike did not benefit from a serious and sustained development program. As the opposition produced faster, lighter, and more agile bikes the PE became increasingly outdated. By the time the "N" model had arrived, the PE was looking less like a thoroughbred race bike and more like a super sports trail bike. Even so, 30 years on, mention a PE to a rider who raced the first "B" model and watch the tears of delight well in his eyes: the trustworthy, loyal and willing iron horse personified.
For further information, contact Crooks-Suzuki www.crooks-suzuki.co.uk
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