First Ride: 2012 Suzuki Inazuma 250 review

Suzuki’s new commuter twin is a return to innocence

Posted: 19 December 2012
by Sachin Rao
The Inazuma holds its own in the urban jungle
Fat mudguard would suit the B-King better
Digital gear indicator is a nice touch
The 250cc, 24 bhp twin is suitably miserly on fuel
The Inazuma arrives at a railway station to save the populace from becoming commuter zombies...

THE long-neglected lower end of the non-learner motorcycle market is now starting to properly simmer, with Suzuki’s new Inazuma 250 turning up to the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja 300 party.

Compared to the other two sporty-looking bikes, you might be tempted to call it the Suzuki Unazzuming. Indeed, Suzuki announced its arrival to the public via a small picture on their website, and the media launch was one of the most low-key in a while. But that very simplicity and lack of frills is, in fact, the USP of the bike.

Lots of people ride small-capacity bikes and scooters to work everyday year-round and if your commute is not mostly a motorway blast, 250s are a good enough balance of enough power to not be left in the urban dust, four-limb involvement for a spot of fun, and low running costs and insurance. But it’s still an easy trap to dismiss them as not being big or sexy enough.

So to get into the right mental zone for this test, I undertook the most rigorous preparation possible: I commuted by public transport for a fortnight. Two dozen Tube, Overground and bus journeys later, I was not only considerably lighter around the wallet area, but far more sleep-deprived, weatherbeaten and frustrated. But I was also ready, nay, gagging, to jump on the Inazuma. That morning, as the key went into the barrel, the sun seemed brighter and the gleaming little twin represented freedom.

Though ‘just’ a 250, the Inazuma is a substantial-looking bike. Unashamedly copying the lines of the 1340cc B-King, the Inazuma looks muscular enough to demand a second glance. Even though its engine is a fraction of the B-King’s in size, it doesn’t look weedy, managing to pack the chassis in a fairly respectably.

The jury’s out on the ‘shoulder pads’ housing the indicators and bulking out the front, though – they look okay from afar, but look wierder the closer you go. The bulky theme continues with the oversized front mudguard and higher-than-average-profile front tyre. And while the headlight’s bug-eyed looks make for a face only the B-King could love, it does have a strong, wide throw of light.

Twin exhausts are a classic look – though on the flipside you’re guaranteed to damage at least one if you have a prang. They also steal a few inches from a tight parking slot (been to Westminster lately?).

Sat on the Inazuma, it feels big enough. Though at 5’7” I’m a certified shortarse, I still expected both my feet to be flat on the ground, but my heels were just a few mm off the ground, thanks to the width of the seat rather than its 780 mm height. For pillions, that width translates to comfort, but for me, as a short rider, it was a minor gripe. Anyone 5’8” or above will be fine, though.

Looking over the 13.3-litre tank (and those shoulder pads), the straight, high clip-ons and comprehensive instrument console (digital gear indicator, digital speedometer, etc), it feels like a bigger bike, not only physically but also in terms of build quality, with plenty of aluminium bits. Budget bike it may be, but it really doesn’t look or feel cheap at all.

Starting up and setting off is underwhelming; with a soft, airy engine note and a short first gear, you want to change up to second almost immediately. The 248cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine is not very interested in life below 4,000 rpm. Though the first two gears will take it up to 30 and 50 mph respectively if you’re the redlining kind, under more normal usage, you’d either want to burble along sedately in second gear (which is comfortable for the 8-26 mph band) or try to maintain a bit more momentum, in which case the rowing between the bottom three gears in dense city traffic can get tiring after a while. It's a good thing the clutch action is ultra light and the gearbox smooth. 

The important thing, from the point of view of a commuter machine, is that the Inazuma never feels overwhelming or intimidating. The riding position is natural and the power delivery predictable, and thanks to the bike’s visual heft, other motorists give you a bit more ‘proper biker’ respect, which always helps.

On clearer stretches and on open roads, the Inazuma becomes a bit of a ’Zuma, zipping along merrily as it gets a chance to flaunt its 24.6 bhp. Between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm is when it’s on song, and staying in that zone using fourth and fifth gears makes progress down A-roads briskly satisfying. Sure, motorways are not the natural environment for a 250, but it’ll sit at 70 mph quite comfortably all day in sixth gear. Right up to the 85 mph indicated top, the 183 kg Inazuma feels stable and planted. Of course, being a naked, it’s your comfort levels against windblast that will determine how sustained your higher-speed journeys are.

Given the bike’s purpose, it’s unsurprising that handling is decent but not brilliant. The softly-sprung Inazuma is happier soaking up bumps than hustling through corners; that said, the RoadWinner tyres that seem to be par for the class are grippy enough to retain confidence on winding country roads at 60-65mph. The 290 mm front disc does enough to keep you out of the way of idiots who don’t understand the purpose of turn signals, but a few dabs of the rear 240 mm disc are often called for as well. An ABS option would not go amiss.

Economy being one of the key planks of a commuter machine, the Inazuma is frugal with fuel. Despite a fair bit of thrashing, including motorway stints and lots of redlining for speed runs, it returned us 140 miles from 10 litres of fuel, or 63 mpg. It would certainly give a more mindful owner 70-75 mpg, for a real-world tank range of about 220 miles. The fuel warning indicator comes on quite early, with a good 50 miles left in the tank, so don’t panic when you see you’re down to one flashing bar.

Finally, what’ll it cost you to ride away on an Inazuma? A £3,408 tag makes the Suzuki offering the cheapest major-brand 250 around, on par with the Hyosung GT250 (£3,399) and £548 less than the non-ABS CBR250R (though you do get a fairing for the extra dosh). For anyone looking for a cheap and uninhibited way to commute, the Inazuma 250 is a sound introduction to the simple joys of motorcycling. 

Do you own an Inazuma 250? Add your reader review here.



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Discuss this story


aw
that front mudguard looks terrible!

Posted: 19/12/2012 at 13:42

It's lardy, the fuel economy is rubbish, and you're only kidding yourself about its road presence. That typically fat Suzuki seat will make you feel like there's much more between your legs than you're actually packing.

If you have a new A2 license, probably obtained on an NC700S, you'd be a mug to not spend the extra £1900 to *get* the NC700. No? Better fuel economy, longer service intervals, and good luck selling or trading in that "cheap" Suzuki in 2 years when nobody has a 25kW license any more.

The Inazuma might sell a few to people who can't do the sums, but it's essentially just a tartier Yamaha YBR 250, which only ever sold in small handfuls.

Read all this in the context that I like low capacity bikes for local larks and run a GPz 305. But that cost me less than the ride-away depreciation on the Inazuma, it weighs 20kg less, has a larger tank and 1/3 more power.

If you do for some reason want one, and you can find a dealer who's got one in stock, offer £2500. When they laugh, tell them that - if they're still in business - you'll be back in 2 years with the exact same offer for the exact same dusty, unregistered bike and see if they still think it's funny.

I'm going off on one here because I *like* Suzukis, but Suzuki UK is in a dreadful state, and the dealers must be clinging on by their fingernails. This is the wrong bike, at the wrong time, and the wrong price. Suzuki UK desperately needs a bargain 125, not a 3rd or 4th choice 250 that will barely even justify them importing parts for it.

Posted: 19/12/2012 at 14:45

Extra £1900 over £3400 ? Yes, I agree, a much better choice, but people buying a £3400 bike do it because it's £3400. If this has the best fit and finish over the other cheap bikes, then it'll sell. I've seen a two-year old YBR - rusty exhaust headers and bolts, pitted and rusted fork stanchions... will the Suzuki be any better ? It's made in China... so who knows...

The review is "interesting" - you took public tansport so you can appreciate riding... but wouldn't a 150cc scooter seem great ? Indeed, just about anything ?

One thing about reviews for commuter bikes is that the testers never mention the steering lock. Dirt bikes have fantastic steering lock so you can literally ride circles around cars in traffic.

So for me, I'd say spend the extra and get a Thai-made CRF250L. Sales of that bike have been very good, because it is a very good bike.

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 01:53

It seems like a very sensible, practical motorcycle.. but very few riders buy motorcycles for purely practical reasons.

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 03:08

...the rowing between the bottom three gears in dense city traffic can get tiring after a while...

For the commute i would go for a Twist n' Go scoot
I have a Yamaha 250 X-Max for those exact duties, and for that exact reason...

As for a bike, i would of gone for a more dirt bike / supermoto style - for the sit up and beg riding position, better visibility and road presence, plus they are better built for the knocks and maybe the odd drop...

Oh well! - each to there own...

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 10:09

I'm inclined to agree with Rogerborg. It could have been a great second bike for commuting, but it doesn't look nice enough (although I like the instrument panel)and the fuel economy isn't that great. For the same price as a new one of these, you could get a 2 year old low mileage ER6F (which is what I did!) - ridden sensibly, it will return the same fuel figures as the thrashed inazuma (and you WOULD have to thrash it). For £1500 less than that, you could get a 2 year old Yamaha YZF-125, which has comparable top speed and fuel economy.

If Suzuki did a cheap solid commuter and a GSXR 125 to compete with the Honda CBF125 and the Yamaha YZF125, they'd be sure to grab some market share amongst the younger riders, commuters and learners.

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 10:28

Hmm, the NC700 is up a bit, so it's a clear £2K, and their 0% finance offer is gone. That makes it tougher, but even if you never need the ABS, or go out of town, and don't calculate your fuel usage or servicing costs, you'll be unpleasantly surprised come resell / trade-in time. The BMW G650GS would also give it a run for its money in ownership costs, as will the new CB500, which is slated to be mid-£4K.

By the way, I don't think that "Suzuki: the best bike that likes of you can afford" is really a winning marketing strategy. Although that does seem to be their de-facto one these days.

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 13:35

Hi everyone ,if there selling the izuama at £3400 where does that leave the ageing 125 vanvan at £3600.What is suzukis marketing strategy at the moment?

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 15:31

I will correct my last statement people ,Suzuki have dropped the price of the vanvan to £3149,wonder why?Still to expensive for a 125cc machine,when you have the so capable honda cbf 125 around £2500 and a better bike in my opinion.I do think manufacturers try it on with there pricing tactics at times no wonder sales dropping in the western world.

Posted: 20/12/2012 at 15:48

I regularly get 60mpg out of my SV650s and it has 70bhp. 2011 new price was £4600 with discounts.

I do see smaller capacity bikes being more popular in the next few years. But Suzuki seem to be struggling with sales and I think the CBR you will getting a bigger grin factor for the extra £500 probably worth it.

Posted: 21/12/2012 at 13:02

How it compares to KTM 390 Duke: 85 mpg, way better power 24 hp against Duke 44hp, way better handling, better suspension, better safety german ABS as standard, weight KTM 150kg wet vs Suzuki 200 kg??

Why anybody will buy Suzuki?

Posted: 22/12/2012 at 14:31

Nice to see some bikes coming out now at sensible prices. If I was still commuting short distances I'd consider something like this, but would probably go for the NC700 as the fuel economy is better and isn't quite so naff.N ot keen on the looks of this one though - it tries for the B king muscle cruiser look but to me just looks naff. Also not sure cruiser ergonomics good for commuters - they'd have been better making a mini-Bandit 'road-bike' IMO.

Posted: 22/12/2012 at 14:32

It looks a decent enough commuter and should sell if the price is right and there's a 0% finance offer. I like the comment about the front mudguard. If it can keep the rain and road filth off you and the rest of the bike (eg. do its job) it must be "oversized".
No wonder few bikes get ridden in winter, they're mostly impractical.

Posted: 22/12/2012 at 16:22

The idea is good, I think there is a need for small commuter bikes, Suzuki drop the price with £1000, add ABS and proper mudguards and I will buy one.

Posted: 23/12/2012 at 19:30

Rather have my 300cc scooter,85mpg and 95mph and descent build quality.But val 1 correct there is a need for motorway capable commuters.Not everyone wants or desires £10000 sport bikes=175mph= no license.Honda got it right i think.Suzuki,yamaha got it wrong in my opinion happy hols people.

Posted: 30/12/2012 at 17:59

By the way ,i will be very surprised if the finish lives up to a english winter.I have had 2 suzukis and they have corroded quicker than the titanic even with kate winslett at the helm.MCN or similar need to do a year long test and comparsion to get the true facts.

Posted: 30/12/2012 at 18:06

I am looking to buy a commuter bike for my trip into London (round trip about 60 miles per day). Would the Inazuma be a good buy, or should I go for the SV650S for a few more bucks. I have not ridden for many, many years so not up to date with the latest bikes and developments.

p.s. I used to ride Suzukis, hence the above Suzuki choices!


Posted: 02/01/2013 at 13:06

Hi Armand, i would go with the sv 650 or a kawasaki er6.Secondhand a good option, 60miles a day you would soon get tired with the limitations of a 250cc bike with only a top speed of 80mph.Both the sv650 and the er6 very user friendly low seat etc.

Posted: 03/01/2013 at 14:43

Hi Woodworker,

Thank you for the sound advice. There will be some mileage on M25/MI before I get into London, so the 250 might have a bit of trouble keeping up, and also might be a bit tiresome.
I will look at the good value SV650S at the weekend, although the GSX-R600 looks pretty tasty! How would that bike commute?

Posted: 04/01/2013 at 13:23

Hi Armand cannot comment on the gsx,never had anything to do with them.Suzukis generally finish can be a issue ,so your have to clean it alot to keep its lustre.Other people may disagree but i think a upright riding position makes more sense than a semi crouched position,especially commuting.But then i am a [antique haha].

Posted: 09/01/2013 at 13:54

I bought the Inazuma late November, 2012, A$4800 (3160gbpd) ride away, two year warranty, 12 month roadside assist.

The purpose of this bike, was to replace both a 2005 Hornet 900 and a 2007 Virago 250.
With my build of 5'8" and 70 kg, I found the 900 a bit too top heavy and awkward (for me) in traffic and on broken surfaces. It weighed in at 194kg dry. The Virago was a nimble, fun bike to ride but I did not like the feet- forward seating anymore. On the highway, it could keep up to 100 kph traffic but would try to rip your knees apart in the breeze.

The Inazuma comes in at 180kg odd wet. It actually feels much lighter than this, way lighter and easier to push around than the Hornet - perhaps the centre of gravity is much lower. Some mention the NC700 but down here they weigh 211kg and I wanted lighter than the Hornet. (not to mention the 55% price premium over the Suzuki).

The Inazuma does look much bigger than a 250. When I parked it where the 900 was kept, the wife and kids didn't even notice any difference. My riding mates all were surprised by its road presence.
Yes, the front guard is a bit out there however it works very well, as does the proper rear guard. My rides in the country have taken me over new tar, over cattle crossings with the obligatory mess of cow pats, and over watered down dirt road works. None of the muck got onto the header pipes or into the radiator, or sprayed following traffic.
The side pods work a treat in deflecting the wind off the legs, with only a very slight buffeting of the ankles, riding into a headwind. While comparisons are made to the Hyabusha look, I think that's just a bit of marketing license at work, a type of upselling the look. To me, it's straight off the Vstrom.
The Honda 250 and the Ninja 300 have fairings and thin bum-numbing seats, a lay forward stance, all of which did not suit me. That is totally subjective of course. The TU250X, which I liked the styling of, worried me a little at highway speeds. The test ride on the Inazuma on the M1 motorway quelled any concerns of highway suitability.

She's done 1006k on 32.8L. The bike is used purely for leisure riding and the distance was spread over four trips. These were mainly on country roads, mountain ranges and semi-suburban roads. Strong headwinds were encountered on the last trip. There were only a couple of short trips in city traffic. This equates to 86.6mpg, real world:
Trip 1 219k on 7.05L, 3 hour ride involving mountain roads, limited to 75kph for run in.
Trip 2. 145k on 5.2L, 2 1/2hr, flat country roads.
Trip 3. 341k on 11.28L. 6hr ride, steep hills, winding mountain roads, flat hwy run home, hot as hell!
Trip 4 301k on 9.3L, 3hr ride, mostly in 80, 90, 100 limited roads, with a blast up to 120 (surprisingly fast and easy)

For me, the bike just feels right to sit on and ride, totally comfortable.
For me, it ticked more boxes than the others.

Going by the comments posted by others above, I will probably have the only Inazuma sold in the western world. So be it.
I'm just enjoying the ride!

Posted: 10/01/2013 at 06:17

Let me add that the write- up is pretty well spot on and an honest appraisel of the machine. Well done.

(The story about the subway is timely - just spent a couple of weeks using Osaka Umeda, Shinjuku and Tokyo stations enroute to Motegi. Crawling over a bed of nails looks easier!)

Posted: 11/01/2013 at 01:49

Bugger!

Just noticed a typo on the price there.
Should be $5800 AUD AND ??3809GB

Apologies

(Can't find an edit button?)

Posted: 15/01/2013 at 11:54

I have widened my search now and am considering the new BMW G650GS single cyclinder. I am not convinced by Suzuki's offerings and I think a 250 would not be up to a 60 mile round trip commute.
Looks like the BM sips fuel and has enough punch to keep ahead of the traffic.
Thanks to Woodworker and Ozinazuma for their comments

Posted: 15/01/2013 at 13:08

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