T350 Road Test
A comfortable, dawdling commuter or a
hair-raising hot-rod, a six-speed gearbox which
transports you from a conformist 30 miles-an-hour
to a rebellious ton! These are the delights
of Suzuki's new 350 two-stroke twin, aptly named
There is very little difference between the
250 Hustler and 350 Rebel in appearance as cycle
parts and accessories are identical. It is in
the actual performance of the two bikes
where the Rebel is obviously superior.
The bottom-end power from those extra ccs,
actually there are only 315 and not a precise
350, is quite surprising. With 3500 rpm showing
on the tachometer, the Rebel would accelerate
rapidly when the taps were opened.
This meant useful performance between 3500
and 5500 rpm without having to scream the motor
to its 8000 redline peak. By keeping to these
intermediate revs, mechanical and exhaust noise
was kept to a minimum. On the other hand, if
you made use of the 6000 to 8000 front-wheel-lifting
rpm band, the motor took on a semi-racing yowl,
emitted clouds of blue smoke from the exhaust
and the Rebel took off like a scalded cat.
The six-speed gearbox also meant that if you
used all the revs and brake horses available,
there was no chance of finding an "out-of-power-band"
ratio. Consequently, rapid cog-swapping was
the order of the day when accelerating hard
or braking rapidly for a junction.
Fortunately, the gearchange was so light and
positive that cog-swapping was a pleasure. It
also allowed virtually all cog changes to be
made without use of the clutch. With slight
pressure on the lever, up or down, the momentary
slack in transmission as one closed or
opened the throttle allowed the gear to slide
Obviously, this method of changing gear isn't
to be recommended to all, as bad changes can
easily wreck a gearbox. In our case, we attempted
it just to prove how good the Suzuki is in the
Starting the Rebel proved no problem, even
when covered in the last of winter's snow. A
minimum of two and a maximum of eight prods
on the kickstart, with "easy start"
lever depressed on the twin carbs, were all
that was needed to bring the buzzy two-stroke
Half a minute to warm up and the "easy
start" lever could be raised. However,
a few more minutes' riding were necessary before
wide throttle openings could be used without
signs of protest from a semi-warm motor. Quite
loud piston slap was apparent during this warming-up
period, but this improved once the motor had
reached the normal running temperature. However,
there was still quite a lot of piston ring rattle
on the over-run when decelerating at high rpm.
High-frequency vibration also made itself apparent
at engine speeds over 5500 rpm, but the thoughtful
Japanese had accounted for this on instruments
and the handlebars by rubber mounting these
components. But it didn't stop the tingle through
rider's and passenger's feet.
Apart from this vibration, another sound reason
for keeping revs down was fuel consumption.
Used gently, this 350 would be quite reasonable
with a happy 65 to 70 mpg. But use the revs
and performance and just over 40 mpg was the
However, this isn't common only to this particular
motorcycle, for all two-strokes seem to suffer
this same thirst for fuel when used hard.
As already mentioned, performance from the
Rebel is very good and it is a fact that the
front wheel lifts off the ground in both first
and second gear if hard use is made of the throttle.
Consequently, it is necessary to treat the twist-grip
with extreme care.
A combination of greasy London roads,
Japanese tyres and lively acceleration leaves
nothing to the imagination when we say it is
possible to become involved in tricky situations
if care isn't taken in the wet.
Fortunately, adhesion proved no problem in
the dry and in spite of excellent ground clearance,
it was found that the prop stand was grounding
on tight right-hand bends.
Handling for average road speeds was good,
but when forced the Rebel protested with a pitching
motion. Damping appeared too light and failed
to take the bounce out of the springy suspension
at front or rear. The suspension would bottom
when carrying a pillion passenger and riding
over bumpy roads. The pillion passenger accommodation
was also cramped for anybody but a small person.
The steering lock was very good for about-town
riding. It was possible to manoeuvre in the
tightest spaces, and with a reasonably low saddle
height a small rider could easily touch the
ground with both feet when at a standstill.
The riding position was good with all controls
within easy reach of both feet and hands. A
pleasant feature was the flashing indicator
control, which was sufficiently positive to
be able to operate effectively even when wearing
gauntlets. This definitely makes a change. Foot
controls for rear brake and gearchanging were
good, but one criticism here is thefootrests
which are so shaped as to rub against the heel
of the rider's boot when changing gear or braking.Consequently,
boots suffered with patches of leather being
graunched from the heel.
The Rebel, similar to the many other models
in the Suzuki range, has Posiforce lubrication.
It is one of the new breed of two-strokes introduced
by the Japanese a few years ago, which seem
unaffected by revs and can outpace four-strokes
of almost twice their capacity The Posiforce
system is one of the two-stroke improvements
which make this possible. Posiforce feeds
oil directly to the main bearings, big-ends
and cylinder barrel without having to be diluted
by petrol. The oil is also controlled and fed
into the motor according to the load placed
on the motor by the amount of throttle being
This is a marvellous system which not only
provides far superior two-stroke lubrication,
but a large saving on oil consumption.Posiforce
also cuts out the petroil mixing, and pump attendants
still question the fact about putting neat petrol
in the tank of what is obviously a two-stroke
Talking of petrol, it is best to run the T350
on three or four star fuel to avoid pinking,
for although the compression ratio appears very
low, this is because it is taken by Japanese-type
measurements, which do not consider that compression
is taking place until all ports are closed.
In other words, a straight comparison between
Japanese and British figures is not possible.
So far we have mentioned almost everything
about the Rebel except possibly the most important
thing with regard to safety, and that's braking.
The twin-leading-shoe front brake is good at
low speeds, but could be improved for highspeed
use. The actual lever movement is soft and brake
response gradual, but it takes real effort
to get the front wheel/ tyre squealing. Perhaps
harder linings would prove the answer for somebody
who wishes to use all available performance
from the Rebel.
Anyway, apart from these few minor criticisms,
we found the Suzuki T350 Rebel to be a very
exciting machine to ride because of its true
heavyweight performance with lightweight
looks. It's a pity the chrome and weather protection
couldn't be improved to suit the British climate!
Engine: Twin-cylinder, piston-port,
two-stroke. Air cooled. Bore 61 mm. Stroke 54
mm. Lubrication by Posi-Force. Carburation by
two 32 mm Mikunis. Claimed power output 40 bhp
at 7500 rpm. Compression ratio (Japanese rating)
6.94:1. Cylinders, sleeved aluminium, forward
Transmission: Wet, multi-plate
clutch and six-speed constant mesh gearbox.
Overall reduction ratios from bottom up, 19.26:1,
12.40:1,9.59:1,7.48:1,6.45:1. Gears are left
foot, sver-operated return change
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