Ultimate Motorcycling

2018 Suzuki VanVan 200 Review: Fun, Fun, Fun

2018 Suzuki VanVan 200 Review: Retro Dual-Sport Motorcycle

I’m frequently asked what my favorite motorcycle is. That’s a difficult question to answer, as there are so many different kinds of motorcycles that I love. Now, ask me what motorcycle is the most fun, and I am very tempted to say the 2018 Suzuki VanVan 200.

With roots back to 1971, the Suzuki VanVan 200 successfully dispenses a heavy dose of nostalgia, and backs it up with a timeless practicality as a motorcycle. Yes, there are many limitations inherent in the VanVan. However, when you embrace it, the VanVan affectionately hugs you back.

One of the most endearing aspects of the Suzuki VanVan 200 is the reaction it gets from non-motorcycling passers-by. Smiles were constantly hurled in my direction, whether I was cruising around suburban downtowns, or riding through my neighborhood.

People see the VanVan and instinctively love it. Given that we’re always trying to get new people into the sport of motorcycling, that is a great thing.

Should a non-rider want to get started on a motorcycle, the 2018 Suzuki VanVan 200 is an engaging option. It weighs just 282 pounds with the 1.7-gallon fuel tank filled, and has an easily managed 30-inch seat height.

The reliable and docile 199cc air-cooled thumperette is simplicity at its finest, with EFI added for clean and efficient running. Electric starting makes the VanVan 200 even more enticing, with only a manual clutch being an obstacle to new riders.

There is no doubt the VanVan 200 is comfortable. The cushy tuck-and-roll styled seat is as pleasing to the rump as it is to the eye, while the tall and wide handlebar puts the grips in one of the most natural positions imaginable. The footpegs are where they should be for a truly neutral seating position, and you’re ready to run through the roughly 100-mile range without a stop.

With its fat Dunlop K180 tires sporting a classic dirt track knob pattern—and mounted on an unorthodox 14-/18-inch rim combination—the handling of the VanVan 200 is extremely forgiving.

The wide high-profile tires tolerate plenty of mistakes by the rider, and slow things down while putting plenty of rubber on the road. Cornering confidence is far higher than you would expect—I put that down to the huge rubber footprint on the pavement, as well as the safe and sane speeds the VanVan travels at.

The Dunlop K180s also work quite well in the dirt—especially soft dirt where the huge footprint can be used to your advantage. It was often tempting to do some urban dirt riding when the opportunity presented itself, without undue concern about the fun police wanting to step in.

Again, people like the VanVan and they actually smile at you when you’re having a good time, even if you are not following every single unnecessary government rule and regulation.

One traffic law you’ll have to put some effort into breaking is the speed limit. The Suzuki VanVan 200 seems to be happy at the posted speed limit on any city street.

You don’t feel like you’re poking, so you don’t have an insatiable desire to go faster. While it may be freeway-legal in your jurisdiction, the VanVan is not a great choice for that, save for short jaunts between exits in the far right lane.

You might notice that the VanVan 200 has passenger pegs along with that long, roomy seat. As it turns out, Ultimate Motorcycling President Arthur Coldwells went for a ride with a comely passenger, and she loved it. Again, it’s all about fun, and the VanVan delivers that commodity generously.

Not only is the 2018 Suzuki VanVan a dual purpose motorcycle, in that you can take it in the dirt as well as ride it on the street, it’s also appealing to both new and highly experienced riders.

The new motorcyclist can learn the ropes without being intimidated, while the veteran can simply enjoy an entertaining knockabout motorcycle when it suits his fancy.

Photography by Kelly Callan

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