I’m a bit of an Apple fan. I admire the simplicity of their ideas and the sheer purity of their designs. I like the iPad. Like many others, I was aghast when Apple decided to introduce a smaller version of it. “Have they lost their minds? Steve said they’ll never introduce a smaller iPad and now Tim Cook is doing it. Oh, he’s sure gonna destroy the company,” I wailed, along with half of the internet.
It’s not just random fanboyism either. Apps optimized for one size sometimes fail to scale correctly to the other, as the fragmented Google Play store has proven. Some things are meant to work in one scale and one setting only, and tinkering with them invariably lead to disasters.
But then, I tried the iPad mini. And I loved it. It is just… perfect.
The Suzuki Inazuma is quite the same story. Let me explain.
When Suzuki introduced the B-King, it took the world by surprise. Here was a naked bike that had as much power as the fully-faired Hayabusa, an aerodynamic leviathan whose sole purpose in life is to defy the laws of physics. The styling was also brutal, more sinister than anything Suzuki has ever produced. It commanded respect. And it sold in droves.
But, like I said, the fact that a product has become an unlikely success doesn’t guarantee that its derivative, whether larger or smaller, will emulate the same success. So, it was with some trepidation that I approached the Suzuki GW250 Inazuma. And, I don’t want to give the ending away (we do depend on your clicks and patronage for our livelihood), but my apprehensions were completely unfounded. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, the Suzuki Inazuma is meant to do a particular job and, despite some hiccups, it does that remarkably well.
Design and Features
When Suzuki decided to introduce a naked quarter litre motorcycle meant for touring and commuting, especially in Europe and America where the starter bikes are mostly 250ccs, it went looking for inspiration to the B-king. They borrowed most of the design elements, subtracted the ones that won’t work well with a 250cc engine, and added the ones that will.
The result is a huge motorcycle that threatens to overwhelm the engine and powertrain. The headlamp is a smaller version of the B-King’s, and so is the fuel tank. But the redesigned front fender is still large, and, coupled with the plastic tank shrouds, dwarf the now-puny headlight and the thin telescopic forks.
The black alloys have a simple three-spoke layout that feels dated and uninspired.
Twin exhaust outlets emanate from the parallel twin engine, converging into a single cat-con below the six-speed gearbox, before exiting through dual exhausts, one on each side. While the twin chromed exhausts with matte grey end-caps give it a big bike look, their slightly conical design doesn’t gel well with the rest of the bike. Viewed sideways, the Inazuma does look striking, but it is not something that will win any beauty pageants.
Suzuki has wisely decided not to put on any stickers advertising the size of the engine, and the only decals you will find on the bike are the Inazuma name on the tailpiece and the chromed Suzuki badging on the fuel tank.
Instrumentation and switchgear quality is top-notch, and every bit feels as solid as you’d expect on Suzuki’s litre class motorcycles. Our only grouse was that the protruding part of the kickstand is located right below the footpeg, making it extremely cumbersome to reach with your heel.
Engine and Performance
Suzuki has intended for the Inazuma to be an out and out commuter and tourer and this fact is nowhere as evident as the construction of the engine.
Powering the Inazuma is a single over cam, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled parallel twin 248cc engine that puts out 24PS of peak power at 8500rpm and 22Nm of maximum torque at just 6500rpm. The figures themselves might not seem like much, especially for an all-new modern 250cc engine, but it is in the way the Inazuma delivers it that it shines. Thanks to a long stroke of 55mm, the Inazuma has an undersquare engine, unique in its category. This helps the bike feel responsive and torque straight from the go, with the bike surging forward for most of the rev range, in any gear.
It is only when you reach the upper limits of the rev range that the limitations of the oversquare engine show up. This is no screaming, wailing sports bike. There is a distinct drop in powerband once you cross 8500rpm, and the power tapers off till the 11200rpm redline. Not that you would notice it redlining though; it is that vibe-free-even at the top of the rev range.
From standstill the Inazuma sprints to the 60kmph mark in 3.80 seconds, adequate for it’s power and size. The 100kmph mark comes up in 11.2 seconds – also adequate – but then it tops out at around the 133 kmph mark. It doesn’t feel stressed; it just isn’t built to hunt down cars on the highway. What it does best is buzz along between 6000rpm and 9000rpm, calmly and silently.
Keep riding in the same dignified manner and you will see the Inazuma meting out 29.5 kms to the litre. Coupled to the fuel tank capacity of 13.3 litres, this gives the Inazuma a range of roughly 400kms between fuel stops.
If there ever comes an award category for the most gentlemanly highway bike of all time, the Inazuma would be it.
Ride and Handling
The Inazuma comes with clip-ons on high risers, giving it a slightly leaned forward posture, great for long distance jaunts. Footpegs are rearsets, but not too much so, and are rubber-damped to quell vibrations. Thanks to the gear-driven balancer shafts, there is none of the vibrations that plague most parallel twins. The broad single piece seat is well padded, negating the need to take frequent stops on long journeys to rest your posterior. The entire bike is so well damped that you cannot feel even the slightest hint of vibration until the redline.
So is the front telescopic shocks, skinny as they are. It is just so well set up that it absorbs the absolute worst one can throw at it, yet never bottoms out when surprised. It does have a tendency to dive under hard braking though – a compromise you just have to pay. The 7-way adjustable preload directly mounted monoshock at the rear is also in the same league. Working in tandem with the front end, this has got to be, by far, the most comfortable 250cc motorcycle we’ve ever seen in India. Whether riding solo, or two-up with lots of gear, you just glide over minor bumps and potholes, and even large ones don’t give that backbreaking jolt that high-strung sports bikes are notorious for.
The Inazuma rides on IRC Road Winner tubeless tyres, 110/80-17 at the front and 140/80-17 at the rear. These are the same make and model that you would find on many similar CKDs and CBUs, including the Kawasaki Ninja 250. These tyres have been chosen for their longevity and endurance, and we are certain they will prove their worth in the long run. But, as is the norm with all tyres, a longer lasting tyre also means a less grippier tyre. The IRCs provide adequate grip and, thanks to the sterling ride quality, most riders will be happy with the value they offer. But under heavy braking, or pushing the bike hard through twisties in less than perfect road conditions, we were left wanting for a better pair of tyres that can truly exploit the abilities of that suspension.
Slap on a pair of good dual terrain tyres onto it, and the Inazuma will be ready to go to the ends of the earth with you.
Part of the reason for the Inazuma’s big-bike feel is the long wheelbase of 1430mm. For the sake of comparision, that’s 25mm longer than the Ninja 300, and 60mm longer than the KTM 390 Duke. The bike thus feels solidly planted at all speeds and imparts confidence in corners. It is not especially quick to turn in, what with the high handlebars affecting your ability to countersteer, but once you’re in the turn, it gives just the right amount of feedback.
Braking duties upfront are handled by a twin-caliper single disc setup while the rear is taken care of by a single caliper disc. Suzuki states that the Inazuma shares its brake components with the mighty Hayabusa, and it doesn’t feel like just marketing gobbledygook. The bike stops on a dime, with good progressive bite and feedback throughout. The only slight disappointment was the front forks diving and the tyres squealing a bit. But that’s a small price to pay for that ride quality.
The Suzuki GW250 Inazuma is made in China and imported to India, making it the first Suzuki offering to land on our shores via the CKD route. That is a costly way to sell a bike here, compared to the competition which comes from Thailand, with whom we have a free trade agreement. Not to forget the fact that more and more manufacturers are setting up production of quarter liter and above bikes here in India, which means that the Inazuma has serious competition to deal with.
The obvious solution would be to manufacture the Inazuma right here, but then again, it wouldn’t be financially viable when we are talking quarter-litres. There just isn’t that much demand for these bikes in the country that would offset the cost of production.
Initially launched with an exorbitant price tag of almost INR 3.5 lakh, Suzuki recently slashed prices by almost one and a half lakh, bringing it down to INR 2,14,966, ex-showroom, Pune. It is still a tad on the higher side, but if you are one of those who is plain tired of the crop of fully-faired high-revving sporty 250ccs and just want something dependable and moderately fast for daily use, the Inazuma is where the buck stops. It can also cruise for miles and miles in comfort, utterly shielding you from the worst of our potholed roads. And it probably is the only 250cc bike in India where the pillion will be as comfortable as the rider, if not more.
If the B-King is a big bad bruiser, the Inazuma is its Eton-schooled brother. It might enjoy wearing most of the clothes that its elder brother bought for himself, but prefers to keep a dignified distance from the shenanigans if it can help it. But make no mistake, cross it the wrong way, and it wont need big ol’ bro to tidy you up. The Suzuki GW250 Inazuma can make its own way in the world.
Photo Credits: Suchit Prabhu Photography