2019 Suzuki Gixxer 250 road test review
The quarter-litre segment is an important one in a market like ours and realising its importance, several manufacturers have entered the space in the recent past. Of course, 250cc motorcycles offer a premium feel while being light on the wallet, a combination Indian buyers dig. The segment has witnessed a paradigm shift recently though. Earlier, manufacturers offered faired sportsbikes but the 250cc segment is witnessing a steady influx of commuters and naked streetbikes, like the Yamaha FZ25 and KTM 250 Duke, both of which came in two years back.
Suzuki is the newest entrant to the segment but has entered the ring with a two-pronged approach. Having launched the fully-faired Gixxer SF 250 a few months back, the Japanese bike maker has now launched the Gixxer 250 naked in the hope of carving a bigger niche. The SF 250 has proved to be impressive, but does its naked version impress as much?
While the SF 250 is a fully-faired motorcycle that tries to straddle highway abilities with everyday rideability, the Gixxer 250 naked is obviously targeting buyers who ride more in urban conditions and perhaps head out for a weekend ride sometimes. It uses the same (revised) chassis as all the others Gixxers on sale while using the Gixxer SF 250's powertrain, in the exact same state of tune.
Style and Build
The Gixxer 250 looks exactly like the smaller, Gixxer 155, which recently received a much-needed makeover and as we discovered in our road test review, the bike does impress. Coming back to the Gixxer 250, its identicalness to the smaller one the all-LED headlamp unit, instrument cluster and fuel tank are straight off the smaller Gixxer is a positive and negative too. While the similarity of design gives it a familiar appearance, the identicalness also robs the 250 of a more premium feel, something that buyers upgrading from the smaller Gixxer might look for. That said, the 250 gets matte-finish paint jobs only, while the Gixxer 155 can only be had with a glossy paint finish.
I do wish there were more distinctions between the two motorcycles though, given their different positioning and price points. The build quality is premium and is line with other Suzukis and fit-finish levels are excellent all round. And despite being thrashed on Mumbai's rain-battered, crater-like roads, there were no rattles whatsoever, which speaks volumes about how well the motorcycle is put together.
The rider triangle is relaxed but compact, so while the bike is accommodating for all, riders with a larger frame might just want a roomier feel to move around. Footpegs are midset, though I wish the seating position was slightly more 'knees-up'. Reach to the handlebar is easy, though shorter riders might just need to crouch forward slightly. I do like how forward-biased the overall posture is, with just a slight hint of aggression. Rear view mirrors offer good visibility, thanks to the adequate length of the stalks, though the instrument cluster is placed at the bottom edge of the rider's field of vision as it sits very close to the triple clamp and in effect, it's almost like riding the Nimbus 2000, like Harry Potter!
The now familiar 249cc, oil-cooled single cylinder engine feels as smooth on the naked as it does on the SF 250, though refinement could have been half a notch higher. Outputs are identical too, at 26.5PS (produced at 9,000rpm) and 22.6Nm (produced at 7,000rpm). These numbers are certainly impressive, more so when compared to the Yamaha FZ25 which offers 20PS and 20Nm, though the numbers are lower than the KTM 250 Duke's 30PS and 24Nm.
The highlight on the Gixxer 250 of course is the eager power delivery and strong bottom-end grunt. But more importantly, the performance is a good balance of easy-going nature and aggressive response. This helps when riding in traffic, which is where the Gixxer 250 is expected to spend most of its time. Precise fueling helps matters as well, allowing excellent throttle control at all times.
It does not disappoint on open roads either and feels quick to build speeds. As for the numbers, the Gixxer 250 managed the 0-100kmph dash in 9.21 seconds in our acceleration tests, which is impressive. Of course, the motorcycle's 156kg kerb weight helps matters too. In keeping with its positioning, most of the power is concentrated at low to mid revs though and the top end is relatively weaker. Performance tapers off sharply around the 130kmph mark, but cruising at 90-95kmph is a piece of cake for the bigger Gixxer.
The six-speed transmission works well by way of offering precise shifts, though it calls for more effort than I would have liked. Of course, gear ratios are tailored to the same effect too, which isn't surprising considering the bike's positioning. Intriguingly, the Gixxer 250 returned better efficiency in city than it did on the highway in our tests. That isn't surprising when you consider the relative ease with which power is put down at slower speeds though. The bike returned 36.11kmpl in city and 34.19kmpl on the highway and both numbers are reasonably good.
Rideability and Handling
Weight management on the Gixxer 250 is excellent, thanks to which the bike offers a very agile feel. Of course, as mentioned earlier, its light kerb weight is an advantage here as well. The Gixxer 250 thus feels light on its feet, allowing quick directional changes in a confident manner. So maneuvering through traffic is a breeze and in that sense, Suzuki has hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of the Gixxer 250 being a city slicker. The combination of its eager power delivery and nimbleness both allow quick progress on commutes, making it fun to ride in urban conditions.
On the flip side, the bike can feel a little too flighty at higher speeds due to its light weight, especially on undulated roads. This takes away some confidence when riding the bike fast on open roads.
That said, the suspension setup is on the firmer side and impresses around corners, as do the MRF Zappers 110-section at the front and 150-section at the rear. The bike felt confident tipping into corners even in pouring rain, egging me to carry higher speeds and I can only imagine the confidence it will offer on dry, well-paved roads. At the same time, the Gixxer 250 also offers a likeable ride quality, soaking up most ruts and potholes reasonably well. Sharper bumps however can be felt though, especially at higher speeds, but overall the ride quality is pretty good.
Priced at Rs 1.87 lakh on road Mumbai the Gixxer 250 sits between the Yamaha FZ25 and KTM 250 Duke. The pricing is slightly expensive in our opinion, but there's no denying that the Gixxer 250 is a very well-packaged motorcycle. It has all the right elements in the right places including a good build quality, likeable engine performance and good dynamics. On the contrary, if you are looking for the 250 Duke's sporty and engaging nature but feel it is out of your budget, the Gixxer 250 can be a good alternative.
And if you're a first-time quarter-litre buyer and were planning to go in for the Yamaha FZ-25 (Rs 1.59 lakh on road), we would suggest the Gixxer 250 over it for its higher performance levels, more playful character and also the six-speed gearbox on the Suzuki.
Photography - Rajeev Gaikwad
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