2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 first ride review
The quarter-litre segment of motorcycles is one that I've wanted to see crammed with options. It's a space that makes a lot sense for a market like ours, but the segment started gathering steam only a few years ago. In fact, it's one of the hottest segments in the country currently, after the 150cc segment. And the Suzuki Gixxer and Gixxer SF are motorcycles that have helped Suzuki carve a sizeable niche in the 150cc segment. And now, Suzuki is hoping to take its Gixxer game to the next level, the 250cc segment. The Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 has just been launched in the country, priced at ? 1.70 lakh ex-showroom. We got to ride it at the Buddh International Circuit, alongside the updated, 2019 version of the smaller, 155cc Gixxer SF.
The Suzuki is the newest weapon in the Japanese manufacturer's arsenal to increase its market share further in the country, particularly in the premium segments
But first, let's understand the bike
The Gixxer SF 250 uses the same formula as the smaller, 155cc Gixxer SF. So the 250 is not a hardcore sportsbike but is a sporty, fully-faired machine intended to offer comfort along with usable, friendly performance. Interestingly, this time Suzuki has launched the fully-faired SF first as opposed to the 150, where it launched the naked first. The Gixxer SF 250 is a strategic product for Suzuki in India in that sense, as it marks the brand's return to the 250cc arena, its first product being Inazuma 250. Powered by a parallel-twin cylinder engine, the Inazuma was a motorcycle we appreciated for its refinement, comfort and handling but its sticker price and unconventional design hurt its fortunes. Which also explains why Suzuki has gone in for a more conventional approach for its return to the 250cc space, in the process, also building on the successful Gixxer platform.
The Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 looks like a higher capacity sportsbike from the sides thanks to the clean fairing design, the clip on handlebars and split seat
So how does it look?
The design is fresh, particularly the face which integrates a large full-LED headlamp unit and short flyscreen. However, it remains to be seen how the styling of the front end is received as the 250's mug isn't the most appealing face. The fuel tank is the same as the 150, but the 250 gets two-piece handlebars that make for a sporty stance. The instrument cluster is a full-LCD unit and in a way, is an updated version of the Gixxer and Gixxer SF's, and offers similar information. The seat is a split unit to add to the sporty stance while the rear is completed by split grab rails and an LED stop light. There's one chink in the SF 250's armour on the design front though. Its styling is exactly the same as the updated, 2019 Gixxer SF, which takes away the sense of premiumness, at least visually. The only distinction for SF250 is the stickering on its fairing, apart from which the 250 gets matte-finished colours while the smaller SF is offered in similar colours but with a glossy finish. Build quality and fit-finish levels are top notch, as we are used to seeing on Suzuki's products.
The rear end isn't overly sporty but looks good and also gets the Gixxer series's trademark double barrel exhaust
What about the powertrain?
The Gixxer SF 250 is powered by an all-new, fuel injected single cylinder engine and outputs stand at 26.5PS and 22.6Nm. Interestingly, the engine is oil-cooled and not water-cooled. Suzuki has developed a new cooling system called the SOCS (Suzuki Oil Cooling System) which uses an external, radiator-like unit for better efficiency. Suzuki tells us this was a conscious decision for weight savings and also for simplicity in terms of engine construction. The engine is mated to a new six-speed gearbox and clutch action at the lever light, while quality of gearshifts is excellent, just like most other Suzuki's transmissions.
Performance from the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250's single cylinder engine is adequate, while bottom end and midrange punch are particularly strong
Okay, all sounds good how is it to ride?
We only rode the Gixxer SF 250 on track and it remains to be seen how it feels on our roads but our track experience was interesting, as it allowed us to push the bike to its limits. The handlebar-seat-footpeg combination makes for a seating position that is comfortable yet sporty. Needless to say, Suzuki has tuned the engine for a strong bottom end and midrange punch and the SF 250 feels peppy from the word go. Many might want to argue that the power and torque figures are only par for the course, but acceleration is quick as power delivery is linear almost throughout the rev range.
However, I would have liked the engine to rev slightly quicker it feels restricted and a little less zingy than I expected. A slightly quicker revving motor would have made for a peppier feel. What did I like about the engine was the drive it offered out of corners thanks to its healthy midrange. The SF 250 impressed with its top end performance too, as I managed to see 151kmph on the speedometer down the 1.2km back straight at the BIC in sixth gear, just short of the redline. That hints at the fact that the bike should allow cruising at triple digit speeds without feeling stressed.
Strong bottom end grunt on the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 makes antics like wheelies extremely easy in first gear
How does it handle?
The SF 250 uses a new chassis derived from the 155's unit and gets a strengthened downtube. Suspension duties are taken care of by telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear and the Gixxer SF 250 offers a confident feel, be it at high speeds or when braking hard. On track I felt the suspension could have been a little bit firmer, though the setup might just offer a good balance between ride and handling on the road. The 250 also felt a little lazier than I would have wanted, be it when dropping it into corners or when flicking it from side to side around chicanes. I would have liked some more alacrity, especially since we've always liked the Gixxer SF 155 for its agility.
The chassis and suspension setup on the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 help in making it a confident handler, along with good grip from the MRF tyres. However, the bike could have been slightly quicker to change direction, particularly around chicanes
The SF 250 is shod with MRF tyres (110/70 R17 at the front and 150/60 R17 at the rear) and grip levels are good. However footpegs are not rear set too aggressively to ensure the seating position is comfortable, so grounding the pegs on track was rather easy. Slimmer tyres and slightly more rearset footpegs should make a big difference to the handling, apart from making the 250 nimbler. Expectedly, the SF 250 is equipped with dual channel ABS and it works well most of the time, but when grabbing a handful of the front brake lever to brake late for corners I could feel it intrude a bit earlier than I expected. All these virtues point towards the SF 250 being a more relaxed sportsbike and not a focused track tool, which as I mentioned at the start is a formula that has worked well for Suzuki with the Gixxer SF.
Priced at Rs 1.70 lakh ex-showroom the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 is an interesting motorcycle, be it for novice riders upgrading from smaller capacity machines or those wanting a well-built and reliable everyday sportsbike that's also comfortable enough for long rides
Priced at the Rs 1.70 lakh ex-showroom the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 is an interesting addition to the 250cc sportsbike segment. It may not be a hardcore sportsbike but is certainly one that's worth upgrading to for existing 150cc owners. In fact, the 250 has been launched four years after the Gixxer SF, which makes it the perfect upgrade for those who have been riding the smaller SF for a while now. It is a friendly machine and will not scare novice riders power delivery is linear and brakes offer a friendly feel, while handling inspires confidence. Suzuki has thus played it safe with the SF 250 and created a motorcycle that will be appreciated by most and packaged it such that the bike is not too expensive either. That also explains why Suzuki has skimped on bits like a different, more premium instrument console as compared to the smaller SF 155 and equipment like a slipper clutch not that it sorely misses one though. The only chink in its armour liked I mentioned before is the fact that it looks identical to the smaller SF 155. The bike has impressed on track overall, and it should be interesting to see how the motorcycle fares on the road.
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