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Suzuki MkII Hustler 250cc

Suzuki T250-2 Hustler

Motorcyclist Illustarted September 1970

You have probably read the previous reports of the Mk II Hustler. We have, and were a little disappointed, and very surprised to note the apparently low top speed of the machine-somewhere around 85 mph. Not so very long ago, this would have been regarded as creditable, extremely so for a little Trike but experience with other 250s, and more pointedly, Suzukis' other 250s, and the T200 made us suspicious.

Before we accepted delivery of the Hustler, the speedometer had been replaced by a serviceable unit, but as was proved later, the clutch had not. During high speed runs, maximum speeds deteriorated from a first time one way attempt of approximately 90 mph, down to 80 mph and less. Whatever the road speed though, the engine refused to co-operate and continued returning its own optimum performances, allowed to by a slippery clutch. Revs were piling up into the blood line (8000-9000 rpm) while the speedometer needle doggedly refused to do anything more than backslide at the slightest provocation.

Tall, American, or scrambles style handlebars had been fitted up to this time. Satisfied that the one way run top speed with them of 90 mph was all tnat could be expected of the 250 engine. I removed them and clamped in place a flat handlebar, and from then on the clutch slipped, despite painstaking attention to control re-adjustments required after the cable re-routing. Worth noting are the Japanese clean handlebar layout advantages and disadvantages. On the credit side, is the electrical control placing. Dip, horn and flasher switches are within an alloy casting matching the throttle clamp at the other end of the bar, which itself is drilled beneath the switch to take the wiring trunk along its centre, out of sight.

To swap bars therefore becomes a major task, involving careful attention to the wking system, and its subsequent re-connecting-the debit side. As the ckcuit is right out of the weather, though, and without the weight of its own trunk hanging free below the bars, tugged by the wind, the likelihood of failure is considerably lessened. The lighting and ignition switches are contained within one unit below the steering head, and the ckcuits are both energised by successive clicks of the same key. A good, and perfectly functional idea, but as I have complained previously on other machines, ensuring that emergency ignition cut-outs are impossible at speed. It only requires a stuck junction box slide, or jammed throttle cable nipple, and whoever you are, you're in trouble, whether it be of the riding or engine type. Fitting the new bars, required the tank and seat to be removed, an easy enough task, revealing the frame and its workmanship to full view. In the best Japanese traditions, the Suzuki's quality was confined to the working parts of the machine. They could not be bettered, and were above criticism, but the frame, fuel tank and some of the other cycle parts were obviously built down to a price. The welding for instance was ragged, but for all that, the components appeared to be no less robust than their British or German counterparts. ,

This time around East Anglia, up to the Fens and then home to London via Northampton and the A5. The wide, open roads and bends of Norfolk led into the wider and even more open bends of Holland, Lincolnshke. It takes some time to become so familiar with a machine that it becomes part of you, at least is does with me, so it was not until I reached Norwich that I was able to start evaluating, or truly testing the Hustler to its limits.

The Mk II Hustler is not so very different from the Mk I, but both vary from the Super Six in major as well as minor differences. Greatest improvement is the addition of an extra transfer port in both cylinder barrels. Low speed power always was good on the T20, but it is even better on the T250 Mk II. Maximum torque for instance comes in at the same revs as previously (7000 rpm) but with the addition of another 2 ft Ibs, resulting in 22.3 in all, claimed by the factory. Optimum power steps in at 1000 rpm above this, at a claimed 33 bhp, and this is a great deal more than the Super Six, which although perhaps the fastest in its class when hi production, turned out 29 bhp at 7500 rpm-a claimed performance of course.

Unlike the T200 and other machines I have ridden from Suzuki, and suspected of misplaced optimum power revs, I cannot harbour quite the same suspicions for the Hustler, although it too benefits from "over revving" although to a much lesser degree. The rev counter blood line begins from 8000 rpm, which I suspect is a thoughtless hangover from Super Six days, for how is it possible to obtain maximum speed from a motorcycle when maximum power can only be achieved by encroaching into the manufacturer's informedly danger zone'.' Optimum performance cannot be effected by riding up to maximum power revs, and then halting the engine just on the power dot for the next gear change; an action that can do no more than drop revs once more below the top power band. The thing to do was, and is on most two strokes, to ride by sensitive ear, seat, and right fist, and when either one or other of the two instrument needles start dragging thek feet, then change up again, and this, with a six speed box, as used on the Hustler went on for ever! It was like climbing a ladder on my left foot only. Wonderful stuff! In the lower gears of course, because less power was requked to propel the machine along, higher revs were simple. Right up and over the 9000 top danger limit with ease, in all gears. Such revs returned a top speed of 100 mph.

The speedometer proved to be seven mph fast at top speed; three mph at 60 mph, and as near accurate as dammit at all speeds below that. Maximum gear speeds were: 1st (20.8:1) 29 mph; 2nd (13.40) 52 mph; 3rd (10.37) 60 mph; 4th (8.04) 80 mph; 5th (6.97) 96 mph; 6th (6.34) 98 mph; This requked 9000 rpm on the clock. Two stroke engineers have one big point to thek advantage, at least, multi cylinder two stroke engineers have. Whereas a four stroke requkes a big flywheel to smooth out the"power impulses, a two stroke engine, by enjoying twice the number of impulses per revolution, returns a much smoother power delivery, and against the thumping big single so beloved by many motorcyclists, offers a "false" low speed torque, when in fact very little power indeed is being produced by the engine, but because of the multitude of firing strokes, keeps the engine turning smoothly, long after an equal cylindered four stroke would have given up the ghost. Suzuki have made the most of this. Strong power, the real bhp only comes in at highish revs, from somewhere above and between 5500 and 6000 rpm, but below this quite enough is churned out, combined with a good smooth power delivery and torque, to keep the wheels turning, and even results in very creditable acceleration. Of course, 30 mph in top gear was, although possible, not practical, and moreover, with the multitude of close spaced gears just below, unnecessary. Around town, solo, bottom gear could be ignored, and second used for take-offs fast enough to leave the turgid four wheeled mess so far behind they had no time to even feel envy. Once on the move, only the next two gears were required for all town work, assuming of course that speed limits were reasonably acknowledged, if not to the letter.

The gear box, one time, perhaps the achilles heel of the Suzuki 250 range, has been improved and strengthened, but not at the expense of the delightfully light, sensitive, and utterly reliable gear change. Once the first change had been made (because of the wider gap between the lower gears than the higher ones) then, as is fast becoming Suzuki practice, the clutch could be ignored, providing of course, the resultant gear changes were pursued with this in mind. Up or down, the trick seemed to be to get the engine revs above 3,500, and then with scarcely more than a hint of movement on the throttle to relieve the gears of their load momentarily, snick to the next ratio as quickly as possible. Personally,

I found the gears to be ideally chosen, especially top, when, sitting bolt upright at 90 mph (flat out) 8,000 revs registered on the revcounter. Such a speed could be held indefinitely of course, so near to the engine's peak efficiency speed was it. Against a strong headwind, or particularly steep hills, top speed was higher in fifth gear by a couple of mph, but nothing more. Two reasons accounted for this. Firstly, the wide power spread of the engine. Unlike the Kawasaki Mach HI say, when unless 6000 rpm was pulled it all gasped to a growling halt in top gear, the Hustler kept purring out power enough to keep speed up in top, right down to the rider's whim. Then of course was the fact of the well chosen final ratio. Fine for me, but Nick Barnes of Suzuki (GB) at Snetterton found it necessary to drop from the standard 41 tooth'rear sprocket down to 39 for his high speed runs, for the Hustler with his eight stone aboard was running out of revs as it topped the three figure mark. He registered a top speed of 102.3 mph electronically timed. Alan Aspel, on the lower standard gearing, but wearing Harbour suit, and two stones heavier, 98 mph, and myself, leathers, 12'/2 stone, exactly the same speed. Which only goes to grove how important, and relevant are a multitude of extraneous circumstances. Had I attempted for instance to discover the machine's top speed with the high gearing, and wearing a Barbour suit it would have in all probability resulted in no more than 85/90 mph.

The clutch, once replaced, behaved itself perfectly. The fust one had been maladjusted, the new unit however, was light, sensitive and smooth, never grabbing or slipping regardless of (normal) provocation through heavy traffic, or fast starts. While talking clutches, and gear changes, and what-have-you, I thought it amusing enough to mention the simplicity with which if not tunes, then quite definitely, varying octaves can be coaxed from the engine by the delightful and simple method of quickly singing through the top four gears. I discovered that by holding the throttle at a steady 4500/5000 rpm, and then running up and down through the gears, allowing them to find their own rev level, brought.a succession of notes from the engine that could nSt have been bettered by a fioog synthesiser. Doesn't prove a thing really, except that giv4n enough practice I would at least have mastered one musical instrument, One moreoever that would take me to the concert.

The frame is the same as before, but with stronger gusseting around the steering head. Suspension too has not altered, except for the trendy discarding of fork shrouds. The action of front and rear systems are well matched. Both are soft and lightly damped, offering great comfort at lower speeds, and sure footedness under most conditions at high speed.

As I said previously, it takes me some time to really fasten on to a new bike, so it could have been that, but I suspect, that it was in fact the normal Japanese practice of pandering to the well fed bottoms of our Atlantic cousins that prompted the rear units to start surrendering to high speed cornering once I was into Lincolnshire and rounding the Wash. Maybe by that time they had warmed up, but according to the manufacturer, that should make no difference, for they are helium filled under pressure. The theory being that the pressurised, inert gas inhibits damping fluid frothing. Maybe it does, I expect so, but in that case the damping itself should exert a more powerful influence on the handhng of the machine. As the Hustler is such an ideal little touring bike, absolutely begging for loaded panniers, sunny holidays and a blonde on the pillion, to clamp in a set of fierce racing units would be a pity; it doesn't deserve such harsh treatment, for the speeds that beat the units cannot often be realised in this country—for a good many reasons, mainly to do with the law. For the rider demanding the ultimate in handling, most good Suzuki dealers offer alternative equipment, which if ordered as original equipment on a new machine is in most cases less expensive than buying at a later date.

Braking comes into this category. The rear one is fine, and so is the front one up to a point, but using it hard at high speed and under load to its limit resulted in not exactly fade, but certainly a disappointing relaxing of the initial grip. Like all tls units, its fkst bite was a strong one, and suggestive of greater things; even a little daunting in the wet, but smooth and utterly controllable for all that. Like the roadholding, braking was more than adequate for everything except the limit of sensibility.

Lighting was good. The headlamp, a funny little angular squashed up unit that I liked for its logical size (who wants more than is necessary), gave a light enough for 65 mph night riding, but the 12 volt alternator turns out enough power for at least a 50 w bulb, so why not use one instead of the present 35 w power? Flashers were valuable during night rides especially, and high speed riding during daytime, but required thoughtful consideration otherwise. The switch was too close to the left hand, and too small and easy to accidentally knock into operation, for my complete satisfaction. But I aint grumblin'. I am all for them. They are the greatest safety contribution to motorcycling since the crash helmet.

The massive paper air cleaners also effectively silenced induction roar, which would, I suspect from some rumbling undertones during acceleration, have overpowered the well silenced exhaust note. The silencers are huge, and vital to performance. A notice stamped into them states that any tampering is strictly forbidden and will hinder the engine's (to my mind) quite extraordinary efficiency.

Petrol consumption worked out to a final all round figure of 38 mpg, but that was under extremely hard riding conditions. More gentle handling provided an increase of approximately 8 mpg more. Many riders could improve on that, but I found the temptation to wind on hard irrisistible.

Finish of the "bike . . .? Who knows. As I have said previously, only a long term owner can comment. It looked good though, in brilliant yellow, black and chrome.

Lastly the tyres. The Japanese apparently think we are being a bit silly about our insistence on Dunlop or Avon tyres, and quote their American replacement orders. Most riders ask for the same again and only a few buy British. It is not surprising. Avon and Dunlop are small people in the USA; no bigger than any one of a dozen Italian or Japanese companies. Of the few American riders who know anything about hysteresis rubber and its advantages, most no doubt consider it to be nothing more than advertising blurb. Few of them ride regularly in the rain. Why should they bother with tyres that claim to grip in the wet. If our climate was a dry one, we would not use the grippy rubber, even had it been invented, and that I doubt. 1 shall never forget reading one of the American magazines' serious claim that riding a Vincent in the wet was bordering on lunacy. It probably is for them It s an everyday occurrence for us. Believe me, Suzuki. British riders have more experience in wet weather riding than probably any other motorcyclists in the world. Anyway, discussions are now taking place between the Japanese, and British Suzuki companies regarding the possibility of supplying T500 Mk Ill's with British tyres. In a few months time.

To sum up. From tick over at 1700 rpm, through the power band up to over 9000 the engine could not be faulted. Smooth, silky power all the way. Oil tight, gas tight. Nearly 300 mpp of oil used by the Posiforce system only. White exhaust pipes at the end of it all. And most of all, a couple of very impressed, supremely satisfied journalists

  • Engine: bore and stroke; 54 x 54 mm.
  • Compression ratio; (corrected) 754:1. Four star petrol used throughout.
  • Power; 33 bhp at 8000 rpm.
  • Torque; 22.3 ft Ibs at 7000 rpm.
  • Lubrication; Posiforce pump injected oil to cylinder walls and crankshaft bearings.
  • Gearbox; six speed, constant mesh.
  • Clutch; wet, multi plate, geardriven on r.h. side machine.
  • Electrical system; 12 v crankshaft mounted alternator. Twin coil contact breaker ignition. 35w headlamp.
  • Wheels; front, 18 x 2.75 in., rear 18 x 300 in. Brakes; front 7 in. tls. rear; 7 in. sis.
  • Fuel tank; 2% gall. Tap; vacuum operated diaphragm type.
  • Weight; with full tank and oil 315 Ibs. Pctee; £338.

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