GT250 K Test
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
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
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
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