I KNEW the Suzuki Inazuma 250F reminded me of something and then it came to me: Godzilla.
Remember the monster from the early films? Supposed to be scary but just silly, with a fat bum, legs and head? Look at the Inazuma 250F and tell me it doesn't share a touch of that disproportion and misalignment of shape.
When I saw one last year at the NEC bike show, a man from Suzuki politely described the styling as 'challenging'.
It's vaguely comical. And it was with a sense of comedy that my road test of the new-for-2015 model began. Despite having seen it before, I was astonished by the height of the handlebars when the mechanic wheeled the bike out of Suzuki's workshop.
The naked Inazuma 250, on which this is based, has clip-on bars mounted above the top yoke. On this new fully-faired Inazuma 250F, they have been swapped for a conventional, wide bar which rises more than six inches above the top yoke. It's completely incongruous with the ambitiously sporty paint scheme.
The suspension is soft and lightly damped. It's like riding on an under-inflated airbed.
The brakes are spongey and the single front disc and twin-pot sliding caliper lacks power. The span-adjustable lever needs a firm, four-fingered grip, and even then it lacks bite.
The parallel-twin engine is flexible and agreeable though. There isn't much below 6,000 rpm but it pulls earnestly and linearly between there and the 11,000rpm red line. Claimed peak power is 24hp and torque 16lbft.
The modest figures make the Inazuma 250F easily fast enough to keep up with traffic, even on the motorway. In sixth gear, an indicated 80mph equates to about 9,500rpm and the bike will hold the speed consistently with a bit left in the bank for a rainy day. It doesn't feel or sound particularly stressed. It's not vibey, aside from a tickle through the pegs.
An indicated 90mph is achievable. At that speed the Inazuma 250F still doesn't feel particularly stressed but the needle tells you it is, brushing the red line. It hits a rev limiter at about an indicated 92mph.
It also pulls well from 50mph in top, so there's no need to ring out the performance with frequent gear changes. Just sit back and relax.
The bars and fairing may look silly but they make the Inazuma 250F comfortable, with an upright riding position and good wind protection for the rider's body. It feels spacious for a 250, with good leg room, the rider's pegs positioned slightly closer to the front of the motorcycle than the seat.
It's pillion-friendly, with generous leg room for your passenger. The seat is very large and a single unit for rider and passenger...