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Suzuki GT250 K Test

Suzuki GT250K

Motorcycle Sport 1973

The latest version GT250K has just improved to make a further model worthwhile. Ram-air cooling and disc brakes. The frame, the six-speed box. the controls and just about everything else. Not that we would want to be changed on the lively little Suzuki or past experience has shown us that, quarter-litre two-stroke twins go, the descendant of the T20 and Hustler has reached just about the summit of its development. As we have said before, once this peak has been reached it is the devil's own job to stay there; often, in the eternal search for that little bit extra, the machine can ac­tually go downhill. In a way that is what has happened to the Suzuki but only to a very small degree. Silencing, for example. In the past the decibel output of the 250 Suzuki was beyond criticism and we well remember Barry Smith whispering around in the TT a few years ago on a Suzuki and winning friends every second of the race. The GT 250 is still well within acceptable limits with its silencing but the exhaust note now has just the faintest edge to it.

Then there is the performance. Top speed has remained fairly constant, with the claimed 90/95 m.p.h. being, more realistically, about 85. It is difficult to see how much more can be forthcoming as 85 m.p.h. equals 7,000 r.p.m., which is the claimed maximum power. It is difficult to be certain about this but we have the impression that, over the years, the Suzuki has become slightly more docile. It depends upon one's point of view whether this can be considered a good thing or a bad. If one puts manners above perfor­mance, which on occasion we do, then the extraction of the same performance for fewer revs can only be to the good.

Naturally Suzuki have retained most of the features on the GT250 that helped to make it a best-seller. The CCI automatic lubrication. So efficient and economical that during the 600 miles of the test only one pint was used. Even so the machine had a slight blue exhaust haze when used hard. We shall never tire of praising the dia­phragm fuel tap. Why doesn't every manu­facturer fit one? The frame remains a full cradle with the top tube along its length to the top of the rear suspension.

The duel-seat was very comfortable and needed to be, for the rear suspension was very firm and rattled our teeth at the slightest provo­cation. The front forks, much more sub­stantial looking than before, were just about right. Which brings us to the new disc brake. Now just about every tester has slammed the drum brakes, or the linings, on the larger Suzukis but we are bound to say that we never had any real complaints about the 2 Is drum brake as used on the 250s.

The question is, does a medium-performance touring 250 need a disc brake? Of the brake we can have nothing but praise when it is used in the dry. Its hydraulic operation was sensitive, light and efficient. Then we took the Suzuki out in the wet. Did we get a fright! It was all right at first, not too grabbing, but it just happened that we went for a few miles without needing the front brake. Approaching a set of lights as they changed we braked in good time. Nothing. We braked harder, as cautiously as we could. Still nothing. We braked very hard, caution thrown to the winds. Everything. We didn't fall off but a large dent in the tank suggested that a predecessor may have been less lucky. As far as we could see, there was nothing actually wrong with the brake and we imag­ine that the pads are at fault. Something ought to be done about it. Quickly. We heard the story of a Northern dealer who sold five. Four returned with the same wet-weather brake problem. He reckoned that the fifth hadn't been out in the rain.

Now for the ram-air cooling system. It is a pretty high-faluting name for a metal deflector shield on top of the cylinder head but we are not going to quibble about that. It does what it is intended to do, which is to keep a stream of cooling air aimed in the right direction. The engine benefits from this, for after half an hour of determined riding it was still possible to place one's hands, briefly, upon the cylinders, while the head plate was almost cold.

It is always fun to ride the 250 Suzuki. First, because it never feels as though it is a small bike one is riding. Indeed at 322 Ib. "dry" there is a great deal of motorcycle More art. The Suzuki is posed at Westminster Bridge and the hour is midnight as the claimed maximum horsepower is at 7,000 (although the red line it as 8,000), we suppose we ought not to be too critical.

Apart from the worrying wet-weather front brake, the GT 250 Suzuki is still right at the top of the tree when it comes to the 250 class. Whether one chooses this in pre­ference to a Honda or Yamaha has little to do with quality or performance; it is more likely to be how the machine strikes one, for all offer more or less the same thing with small differences rather than large ones (bearing in mind that the difference between a two-stroke and a four-stroke is basic). Every few months we have the chance to try one or the other of the Japanese quar­ter-litres and we are never disappointed but, as time goes by, we find we are having to look very much harder at the machine's faults for fear that we will become blase.

The GT250K sells at £392, although the underneath one, for a 250, and one aspect of this is that a short rider has a job to reach the ground. Starting was most un-Suzuki like for, from cold, one had to take the utmost care not to give even the merest whiff of throttle or it would never start. From warm it was its usual immaculate self. We suspect that the cold-start mechanism was on the blink for we never have starting trouble with Suzukis! These early starting problems, before we discovered the secret, brought home to us that the left foot kickstarter on the Suzuki was fine until we had to work a little, then it was increasingly awkward.

Readers may recall that a few years ago we compared the 250 Suzuki very favourably with the old touring 500 type of motorcycle. Nothing has happened to make us change this view. The 250 offers, at 55/60 m.p.g., perhaps slightly less economy but has, to balance the picture, more initial perfor­mance. As the years go by we become in­creasingly unsure of the need for a six-speed gearbox. One could travel, in varying degrees of frenzy, at 30 m.p.h. in any one , of the gears. In first it would be at 6,500 r.p.m., in second 5,000, in third 4,000, in fourth 3,200, in fifth 2,700 and in top 2,500.

As one can see, the margins between the top three are fine on a racing motorcycle but maybe just a little over elaborate on a touring one The handling of the GT250 was exemplary. The firm rear units had tightened the rear end up a little but from a touring point of view it is doubtful if the benefit of this means much. It would seem churlish to criticize mirrors as they do not appear on road-test machines as regularly as we should like, and this machine had two but they were just a little too small to be really effic­ient. Granted, they were better than nothing at all but another inch on the diameter would have made all the difference. They did serve as in indication, the only one, that there was a little engine vibration. It was insig­nificant until the tachometer was indicating 7,000 r.p.m. when it became quite fierce but, The tester found the left-mounted kickstarter easy to use at first, awkward for repeated kicking. Note the "ram-air" cooling cowl atop the cylinder-head finning; it helps to maintain a consistent, lowish engine temperature.

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