2018 Suzuki GSX250R Review | Ready For The Streets
We first got a look at the Suzuki GSX250R at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. At that time, it was dubbed a Katana and a 2017. As sometimes happens in these just-in-time manufacturing days, the GSX250R was delayed and it arrives as a 2018.
There are many assumptions you can make about the 2018 Suzuki GSX250R based on spec sheets, but there’s nothing like riding it to find out that numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
1. Suzuki has daringly put a 250 in the 300 class. Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki all have 300s in the faired sport bike class, so the 2018 Suzuki GSX250R is definitely at a displacement disadvantage with just 248cc. The closest of the three in displacement is the Honda CBR300R, which has a 286cc powerplant. The Yamaha R3 is a 321cc, giving it a 29 percent advantage.
2. The 2018 Suzuki GSX250R is a 250 for a reason. It’s a world bike, and Suzuki decided to save money by not investing in the R&D needed to make it a 300. That allows Suzuki to sell the twin-cylinder GSX250R at the same price as the single-cylinder Honda CBR300R.
3. The twin in the GSX250R is fairly low spec. Its 300-class competitors have DOHC motors with four valves per cylinder. The GSX250R is a SOHC design with two valves per cylinder. The GSX250R’s motor is also a tad undersquare, rather than a short-stroke revver.
4. You wouldn’t know it was a quarter-liter bike by looking if the graphics didn’t tell you. The GSX250R isn’t physically smaller than a midsize bike, and nothing about the styling suggests this is an entry-level bike.
5. While it looks like a serious sport bike, the 2018 Suzuki GSX250R is primarily an urban motorcycle. Although the fully faired GSX250R has more than a passing resemblance to the GSX-R line, the bike is aimed at the in-town rider. Suzuki claims the motor output is designed to favor speeds 55 mph and below. That takes the freeway off the table, for the most part.
6. The 31-inch seat feels shorter than it is, making the GSX250R accessible to a wide range of rider inseams. The seat narrows as it butts up against the tank so the rider’s legs have a straighter line to the ground. Newer riders need the confidence that comes from being able to get their feet flat on the ground at stops.
7. The GSX250R’s ergonomics are comfortably sporty. There’s room to move around on the seat and the clip-ons have a slight rise that keep the forward-leaning riding position from being extreme. You can sit up enough in the saddle for a view of surrounding traffic, or push back against the stepped up passenger pillion when you take the bike into the hills.
8. Novice riders will quickly learn to shift. Since the real power of the GSX250R is in the higher rev range—despite its valve train and undersquare construction—you’ll be shifting up to 5th gear quickly to get to a busy boulevard pace. The six-speed transmission shifts smoothly, but can be a bit fiddly clicking into first if you’ve sat in neutral at a light.
9. Friendly brakes on the GSX250R will not surprise anyone. There’s no nasty bite at the five-way adjustable front brake lever, just the right amount of free play before the linear engagement kicks in. The single rotor up front is standard for the class, and adequate for the expected use of the 392-pound bike. The rear brake has good feel and is a useful supplement. There is no ABS option.
10. The bike’s narrow physique makes it easy to maneuver in tight conditions, so it’s a natural commuter in busy urban environments. Despite a 56.3-inch wheelbase that is long for its class and a relaxed 25.6-degree rake, the tame motor and light weight make the GSX250R easy to ride in the toughest traffic. The bars and mirrors aren’t wide, so you can make your way through the smallest of opportunities.
11. You’ll be revving the GSX250R to pull away smartly from traffic if you’ve split to the front of the line at stoplights. It’s not particularly powerful right off idle, so get the revs up and slip the clutch a bit to break free of the pack.
12. The suspension may be budget, but it is dialed right for the urban tarmac it’s expected to encounter. The suspension is firm, and takes up the harder bumps you’ll find on the poorly maintained streets of Los Angeles.
13. Although the GSX250R is optimized for city streets, it can keep up with moderate freeway speeds. You’ll be running the twin at the 9000 rpm range at 75 mph, but the bike feels stable due to its spacious geometry. There is little power left in reserve, though, should you need to accelerate quickly, so busy freeway commuting will probably be kept to a minimum—consider 65 mph to be a practical maximum for cruising. In comparison, a Yamaha R3 or Kawasaki Ninja 300 will run away from it on the freeway, and the single-cylinder Honda CBR300R’s power output is much closer on top. At the same time, the GSX250R is the most stable of the bunch.
14. Though the bike revs high, the mirrors remain still. The fairing mounted mirrors return a sharp image at all speeds, and give a mostly shoulder-free view behind the rider.
15. With a claimed 76 mpg, the GSX250R is easy on your fuel budget. The bike also has an oddly roomy four-gallon fuel tank, so you can ride quite a distance between gas station visits.
16. An enthusiastic ride in the hills can be had with an aggressive twisting throttle hand. For those looking to develop their sport riding skills, the GSX250R provides a predictable environment to accelerate hard—but not fast—and brake accordingly. The firm suspension will bounce the rider around on rougher roads, and sharp edges challenge the damping’s ability to respond. However, most GSX250R riders won’t be hitting the canyons with that much abandon, and within the expectations of a low-cost entry-level machine, the GSX250R does great in the twisties.
17. There’s plenty of cornering clearance. The IRC Road Winner tires are quite good, though certainly more oriented toward long wear than high performance. Likely GSX250R riders will never notice and be fully satisfied with the IRC’s performance and service life. If you loan your bike to a fast guy, he’ll come back with rubber recommendations.
18. With ease of riding a primary focus, the GSX250R has no bad habits to catch a new rider out. There are no hitches in the powerband, nothing nervous about the handling—it’s all about providing a no drama, fun experience. Like its larger cousin, the SV650, the GSX250R is about providing a stable platform for improving skills, rather than an overly responsive chassis that can get new riders into trouble.
19. The GSX250R’s dash is informative. Designed with practicality in mind, the easy to read, busy but well laid out dash has useful information on the white on black LCD panel. There is a programmable shift light, maintenance service reminders, and a gear position indicator.
20. The 2018 Suzuki GSX250R defies assumptions and stakes its place in the small-bore sport bike class. It is a roomy bike, but it has a small engine. It doesn’t have a lot of power, but the chassis is ready for a meatier motor. It’s an undersquare SOHC twin, yet it revs into five figures like a short-stroke DOHC design.
The GSX250R looks like a sport bike, yet its most natural habit is urban. This is a motorcycle that is more planted than you’d expect, yet still agile enough for commuting and tight twisties. The 2018 Suzuki GSX250R isn’t a wide-net motorcycle, but for the right person—a new rider who is larger and not likely to spend much time on freeways—it’s a competitive choice at an attractive price.
Photography by Enrico Pavia
- Helmet: Arai Quantum X
- Communications: Sena 10C
- Jacket: Alpinestars Eloise Air
- Gloves: Racer Guide
- Pants: uglyBros Aegis-K
- Boots: Tour Master Trinity
2018 Suzuki GSX250R Specs
- Type: Parallel-twin
- Displacement: 248cc
- Bore x stroke: 53.5 x 55.2mm
- Compression ratio: 11.5: 1
- Valve train: SOHC, 2 vpc
- Fueling: EFI
- Cooling: Liquid
- Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
- Final drive: O-ring chain
- Front suspension: Non-adjustable fork
- Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable shock
- Front tire: 110/80-17; IRC Road Winner RX-01F
- Rear tire: 140/55-17; IRC Road Winner RX-01R
- Front brake: Disc w/ Nissin 2-piston caliper
- Rear brake: Disc w/ Nissin single-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 56.3 inches
- Rake: 25.6 degrees
- Trail: 4.1 inches
- Seat height: 31.1 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 4.0 gallons
- Curb weight: 392 pounds
- Estimated fuel consumption: 76 mpg
2018 Suzuki GSX250R Colors:
- Pearl Glacier White No. 2
- Pearl Nebular Black
2018 Suzuki GSX250R Price:
- $4499 MSRP
2018 Suzuki GSX250R Review | Photo Gallery