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Suzuki TU250X LAMS Review – Retro nimble city 250

Words by Peter Elliott, Photos by Geoff Osborne


In its base configuration, bog standard out of the box, this little Suzuki TU250X looks like a wee cracker. Its retro styling is a nod back to seventies cool, even down to the wide, square brake pedal with rounded knurls and a narrow gauge gear lever.

Suzuki TU250X
Suzuki’s TU250X offers a small capacity retro themed ride that stays true to the original concept

I love the candy gold tank, black shiny guards and chrome wheel rims. Very 1972. I was reminded by a friend who like his ratbikes – the rustier and worn the better – that the Suzuki TU250X was actually a cool little bike in it’s own right.

Suzuki TU250X
The TU250X is the ideal canvas for a bobber or street cruiser

However I suspect much of this was down to the fact that many a bobber and stripped back little street cruiser has started life from this base machine. All the good basic detail is there, a single cylinder, 249cc air-cooled, four-stroke motor, coupled with the SDTV (Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve) injection system, which delivers a solid, if not lightning fast, commuter machine.

The single cylinder, 249cc air-cooled, four-stroke motor offers reliable, solid commuter performance
The single cylinder, 249cc air-cooled, four-stroke motor offers reliable, solid commuter performance

The split seat looks kind of cool, but at a 770mm seat height is a little close to the ground for my longer legs, and generally I found the bike very compact. This makes it an enticing prospect for learner or returning riders, where its directly aimed.

The wheelbase is 1375mm and it’s a nimble little traffic bike, with slightly narrow bars that make lane-splitting a less fraught exercise than it can be on bigger machines. It is light too, at only 148kg – this is an easy pick up, if it gets knocked over in town.

The 770mm seat height is low and ideal for beginners but may feel too low for the larger framed, while a 1375mm wheelbase ensures nimble handling
The 770mm seat height is low and ideal for beginners but may feel too low for the larger framed, while a 1375mm wheelbase ensures nimble handling

Taken out for a blast in traffic, I had a ball, zapping comfortably about with plenty of inner city zip. But if you are heading onto motorways it may take a little more fortitude.

It will do 100km/h with a decent handful, but with a weighty rider, a dash of uphill, and a stroppy afternoon headwind, that drops to about 80-85 and you need way more throttle to hold it there.

A top speed of 130km/h was achieved although the more comfortable 100km/h can be a struggle uphill with a strong headwind
A top speed of 130km/h was achieved although the more comfortable 100km/h can be a struggle uphill with a strong headwind

I managed to get the bike out to 130km/h on a short patch of motorway, but that was absolutely top whack. It’s no racer, but it will deliver you safely on and off the motorways and to be fair, that’s all it needs to do.

Suzuki’s of the seventies used to have names, like ‘Stinger’, ‘Gaucho’ and ‘Rebel’ and I think the TU250X is desperately in need of a name, rather than a model number that makes it sound like… well… a dog biscuit, frankly.

There was pulsing through the lever from the front brake, although no warping or high spot could be seen on the disc
There was pulsing through the lever from the front brake, although no warping or high spot could be seen on the disc

There were a couple of issues which got my attention fairly quickly. On the test bike there was a pronounced vertical bouncing vibration of the front wheel, of about 1 to 2cms at 50km/h, but I suspect the front wheel had flicked a balance weight off. It evened out above and below, but at commuting speeds was annoying.

The other niggle was that under braking the front disc pulsed through the lever, I had a look at the disc surface but found no obvious high or flat spot.

I did think the final drive ratio could do with a wee rethink for general road use, generally we don’t idle along in first for very long, and that first gear ratio is silly, its barely worth the effort, but taking off in second is not for a beginner either.

Gear ratios could also do with a tweak for a more commuter friendly experience in first and second
Gear ratios could also do with a tweak for a more commuter friendly experience in first and second

Looking at a couple of forums on the net I discovered that others had found the same issue, and a recommended fix was taking the rear sprocket from the standard config of 41 teeth to 43 or going a tooth larger on the front sprocket. It would be the first mod I’d make were it to find a home in my garage.

It would take a capable and quite torquey single from useful to very good at absolutely minimal cost. It would also give the little TU a slightly higher top end too for a more relaxed motorway cruise.

Suzuki TU250X
A simple sprocket change would be a cheap and easy way of fixing up the gearing yourself of course

Apart from those teething niggles I thoroughly enjoyed bike, it’s the sort of machine which makes you grab your helmet and zip down to the shops to pick up milk and bread and a cake of chocolate, just ‘cos you can.

But it is as a first bike I believe this nimble wee Suzuki will come into its own. There are no weird foibles, the clutch is smooth and gear changing is slick and accurate. The seat height will allow people of all sizes and shapes to get aboard easily, and that cracker little Suzuki engine will pull forever.

A fuel gauge added to the instrumentation would be nice, with the retro theme keeping things basic
A fuel gauge added to the instrumentation would be nice, with the retro theme and price tag keeping things basic

Although the standard instrumentation will not baffle the beginner with its one gauge, displaying speedo only, without a rev counter – it’s a bit too spartan for me, and I think in the teen years of the 21st century, a fuel gauge is a bit of a must.

While I’m at it, the indicator light is anaemic in daylight and offers no discernible click as a reminder either, so it’s easy to forget, but this is a retro bike and frankly – at notch under $7k – it’s a head turner on a budget. 

Overall the Suzuki TU250X is a steal for just under $7000 ride away
Overall the Suzuki TU250X is a steal for just under $7000 ride away

Looking at the bike I saw a story emerging and I am not certain it isn’t deliberate by the clever folks at Suzuki. Bear with me… I reckon this bike is perfect for a first rider, the sort of bike that teaches you all the basic riding skills and increases your sense of joy and the freedom of motorcycling, while also whetting your appetite for a bit more of everything, as confidence and ability grows.

The TU250X is the perfect starting point for a beginner rider, allowing easy building of skills and performance
The TU250X is the perfect starting point for a beginner rider, allowing easy building of skills and performance

To that end, I reckon, dads will help the rider on to a ‘better’ bike, but decide to, “Keep it just in case,” in the garage. Then, over the course of a few months, or even a year or two, convert it to some gorgeous wee rat bike or bobber of their own. Go on… tell me I’m wrong. Good plan?

There's plenty of room for modification into a cool custom project too
There’s plenty of room for modification into a cool custom project too

Suzuki TU250X Specifications

  • Engine – 249cc air-cooled, SOHC, four-stroke single
  • Bore x stroke – 72 x 61.2mm
  • Compression – 9.2:1
  • Power (claimed) – 16hp
  • Torque (claimed) – 11.3lb-ft
  • Starter system – Electric
  • Ignition – Transistorised digital electronic
  • Fuelling – Electronic fuel injection with 32mm throttle body
  • Clutch – Wet, multi-plate
  • Transmission – Five-speed, chain
    Frame – Tubular steel diamond
  • Swing-arm – Tubular steel
  • Suspension – Conventional 37mm telescopic fork front; twin coil sprung damper units rear
  • Brakes – Single 275mm disc, twin piston floating caliper front; drum rear
  • Wheels – Wire spoke with chrome-plated rims
  • Tyres – 90/90 x 18 MC 51S front; 110/90 x 18 MC 61S rear
  • DIMENSIONS
    • Seat height – 770mm
    • Wheelbase – 1375mm
  • Weight (wet) – 148kg
  • Fuel capacity – 12 litres
  • Price – From $6990 Ride-Away
  • Warranty – Two-year, unlimited kilometre
  • Contact – Suzuki Motorcycles (link)
Suzuki TU250X
The Suzuki TU250X is available in Silver in Australia
Suzuki TU250X
Suzuki TU250X