The quarter-litre motorcycle segment has been gaining momentum for a while now and in the naked class, KTM and Yamaha were the first ones to bring it into India with the 250 Duke and the FZ25. But there is a new entrant now and it spells good prospects for the segment.
When Suzuki entered the 250cc class, it did it in two phases. First it brought in the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250, a bike we have already reviewed and then a couple of months later, we got its naked sibling, the Gixxer 250. The new naked bike promises to be every bit as fun and entertaining as the more sport-oriented SF while still allowing for comfort on the daily commute.
Let's start off with the looks first though. The Gixxer 250 is almost identical to its faired sibling, save for the front. Its gets a quirky little LED headlamp unit sort of oval, sort of flat. Then you take away the fairing and the whole bike is the same. The instrument cluster as well as the tank, the seat and the rear tail unit is all taken straight off the SF 250. The tail lamp too is an LED unit and it makes you wonder why the indicators weren't given the same treatment.
There also another thing to say about the design. Apart from the Gixxer SF, the naked bike is also identical to the smaller Gixxer 155. While the design is big bike like, it takes away from some premium-ness that comes with the price tag. There are a few differentiators though, like the instrument cluster and the end can design. Also, while the 155 gets a gloss paint scheme, the 250 gets the matte effect.
Coming down to performance, the Gixxer 250 gets the SF's powertrain in exactly the same state of tune. The 249cc oil-cooled single makes 26.5 PS of maximum power and 22.6 Nm of peak torque. These numbers are quite impressive when compared to its rival, the Yamaha FZ25. The performance from the engine feels just as smooth on the naked as it did on the SF 250, but we would have been happier with slightly more refinement.
What is nice though is that most of the grunt is offered fairly low in the rev band making riding in the city a breeze. It offers just enough pull to escape a pinch but is also just about easygoing enough that it does not scare you. This balance in power is something most people are going to really enjoy. But as exciting it is on the low-end, there are times when the top-end feels a little lacking. Then there is the buttersmooth 6-speed transmission. Shifting through gears whether up or down has a nice tactile feel making sure I didn't miss a single gear.
The chassis set up too is exactly like the SF. It offers good balance and rigidity on streets, even in the kind of streets we have in India. The suspension is a little on the stiffer side. So you do tend to feel the bumps on the roads. Braking, somehow, felt lacking. While the overall feel was good, it lacked that initial bite when you just sort of step on the brake. ABS too seemed to come in a little early, too, but it’s a fine pulse and doesn't feel very intrusive.
Now, about ergonomics. The Gixxer has a comfortable riding posture. You sit in a fairly upright position, and in a city where this bike will eventually spend most of its time, this is a good thing. The footpegs too are not rear set. However, they are not biased forward either, so it still feels like you're riding a big bike. The seat itself is comfortable and soft, so it offsets the stiff setting of the suspension. However, I do need to mention that extended time on the bike does get a little hard on the rear side, but the seat is big and wide so there is plenty of area to move around.
In terms of rideability, the bike is phenomenal. It offers the same amount of fun we had on the older Gixxers as well as the newer, bigger Gixxer SFs. It is extremely flickable, so cutting through traffic is a breeze. The turning radius, on the other hand, is a tad bit large, so if you are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it gets a bit tedious to manoeuvre between cars. At higher speeds and faster roads, hitting a corner feels just right. The suspension may be too stiff for the city but in the mountains or maybe even the track, it works like a charm. Mild bumps around a bend, too, couldn't throw me off my line and that impressed me quite a bit.
Overall, Suzuki has done a lovely job of the Gixxer 250. In the city, you can take through whatever pace you want, whether you're wading through traffic or cruising on the highway. Out on the open roads and in the mountains, too, the bike will not disappoint. You can cruise at top speeds on the straights and hit corners really hard. The Gixxer 250 toes the line between sporty and comfortable brilliantly and in that, beginners as well as people looking to upgrade will have gets their money's worth.