Test Ride: Suzuki GW250F

front 3/4

In some parts of the world with a proper graduated motorcycle licensing system, 250cc is the maximum capacity motorcycle you can ride while learning. Many of those markets have recently changed or are about to change to a power-to-weight based system for exactly the reason the GW250F exists – most 250s are too small for big fellas.

Not this one though. Suzuki positions the GW as an affordable commuter bike for beginners of a certain stature. The 2015 Suzuki GW250F is very much a full-size bike, with a wee little engine for easy, fuel-sipping commuting.

The bars are high and wide, the frame spacious and accommodating, the seat wide and soft. Big 17-inch wheels add to the sense of size while also helping stability and the massive front fairing is wide to offer solid wind protection for the bigger riders. In fact, the GW250F is so accommodating that it was almost too big for my 5’6″ frame. The bars were too high and the seat too far back. Bigger riders who find most bikes too compact will find it fitting.

detail of front spring fork

Looking down on front fork

It’s only when you look closer you realize how little this bike is underneath. The spindly conventional forks are almost comically small poking up through the front section, as is the small single-rotor front brake. The GW250 in naked form is perhaps a more handsome bike, unburdened by the upright front cowling. But, many riders want full fairings, kudos to Suzuki for offering up both.

The little twin-cylinder 250 engine is a solid little piece which makes about-town commuting a breeze and happily slots into highway traffic without being run too hard. Our tester had a strange vibration that sounded loudest in the lower rev ranges and was even felt through the foot pegs, making the bike feel coarse.

The transmission is a little soggy feeling between shifts, but finding neutral couldn’t be easier and the clutch is appreciably light and easy to use.

Passengers will appreciate the wide and comfortable rear seat and rubber-padded rear footrests, riders with pillions will appreciate the clever rear pre-load adjustment – it’s hidden under the seat but with the seat lifted becomes extremely easy to access. You will still need the c-spanner to adjust it though.

side profile

The great thing about large-framed bikes with small engines is they’re usually very easy to work on and access, but the fairing impacts this. That and aesthetic reasons are enough to sway me to the GW250 sans fairing. It’s 6 kg lighter than this 189 kg fully faired version too, and crucially that 6 kg is all carried up high and to the front. The bike does a reasonable job of hiding the added heft but it was disconcerting to see such a big expanse carried way out past the triple clamps.

On a bike like this, stability and ride comfort are vital – happily the GW250F delivers on these fronts. Even massive potholes didn’t upset the chassis and the GW250F is a faithful partner to any trajectory you assign it. It’s not a sport bike, but it’s not meant to be.

Instead, it’s a simple, affordable commuter which adds just a touch more joy to the daily grind with less environmental impact and less of a hit to the hip pocket than any car. Motorbikes make even the snarliest of traffic jams a pleasant experience. Why? Because two wheels is more fun than four. That’s why.

gauges

Dashboard

The dash is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read with the regular display of idiot lights clearly visible even in bright sun. The mirrors are large and well-sized, giving great rearward visibility. The digital speedo is accompanied by a fuel gauge and clock, the former of which you’ll barely notice moving. I averaged 3.23 L/100 km during my week on the bike – about a third of what I’d use in a car.

With fuel efficiency like that this bike will appeal to the thrifty minded, who will likely also be drawn to its $4,499 price tag. Or, if you like a more conventional appearance, more convenient maintenance and a little less weight, you could get the naked Suzuki GW250 for $300 less than that.

The GW250 is probably the better buy, offering the same sizing with better value, greater simplicity and better looks. Still, if you want a fully faired, full-size bike that’s simple and cheap to run – the GW250F is a solid option.

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Jacob Black

Jacob Black

Jacob is a writer and a journalist who enjoys cars, driving and jokes. Sometimes he writes a series of jokes and loosely connects them to a car he was driving. Jacob Black is not a werewolf.