Nearing the end of this decade, just the second in this millennia, we look back to see so many new types of motorcycles breaking the market, to see the lines between the segments blurring out, and to understand that logic has the least say in what drives the sales of these vividly varied motorcycles. As an enthusiast I’m quite excited about the last eight years, but as a buyer, I could never be more confused.
This is where an age-old factor comes into play in making the final decision about whom to write the check to, the ‘trust’ factor, something that usually drives the decisions in India, something that makes you skip doing the due diligence on your own. And this is expected to have a positive impact on the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250, as its nothing more than a well-deserved upgrade to the trusted Gixxer SF 155.
The smaller sibling has been around us for about 4 years, and it is one of the few models that have gained an unchallenged popularity. The draped baby-Gixxer has been known for its easy-going nature, amicable design, smooth performance, effortless handling, and a reasonable price tag, all of which are the attributes of the Gixxer SF 250 as well, judging from our first date with it. We hung out for a while at the Buddh International Circuit at Greater Noida, and it was a cool date despite the 41-degree grin upon us.
In short, the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 is almost a literal twin of the good-old Gixxer SF 155, but with steroids. And that word ‘almost’ has further been blurred out by the introduction of the updated SF 155 alongside. The latter has just about all aspects as the Gixxer SF 250 covered, except for that obvious half a glass of cubic capacity.
Before we delve into the details, we’d like to cover some of the clichés. The Gixxer 250 is Suzuki Motorcycle India’s rebound bike in the quarter-litre segment, after the failed romance between the pre-maturely introduced Suzuki Inazuma and the then-conservative attitude of the Indian entry-premium market.
Despite the ginormous dowry of one-third the price of the bike, there were close-to-no takers. But one thing was clear; it was a well-admired motorcycle in the engineering sense, so much so that the same engine was expected to ride back into our market through the Gixxer 250. But all we got now is a single-cylinder, four-valve SOHC, oil-cooled 249 cc engine, surprisingly with no fins, that generates 26 bhp of max power at 9,000 rpm and 22.6 Nm of peak torque at 7,500 rpm.
This engine is brand new and has some serious engineering pumped into it, like the new Suzuki Oil Cooling System also known as SOCS, to try to make it one of the smoothest and most efficient engines out there. Coming to think of it, is there really a bad 250 cc engine out there, not counting the Chinese ones of course.
What differentiates the Suzuki’s newbie motor, that’s been developed specifically for India, from the rest of the 250 cc singles, is that this one is probably the most linear in terms of power delivery, and is enjoyably free revving.
The 250 weighs 161 kg, which is just 16 kg heavier than the 155. The company spokesperson said that being able to ditch the liquid-cooling system for their SOCS helped save weight significantly. They also mentioned that they have filed a number of patents for their SOCS. Consequentially, the power to weight ratio of the Gixxer 250 is impressive.
The engine never seems to be stressed out through the rpm range, and seems always welcoming of more twist to the throttle. But that comes at a price, you don’t get a stirring sensation of pull from the bike due to the linear acceleration, you only get a gentle and steady movement of the needle. This is good for the target audience of the Gixxer 250, who would be those who jump from serene 100 or 150 cc motorcycles and expect nothing more than higher top speed, similar smoothness and relatively same ease of maintenance.
If you ride the Gixxer 250 after owning the 155 for a while, you would never be able to go back to the chotu, as the 250 would be like all your dreams came true, when exchanged for free that is. But at Rs. 1.71 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), which is around Rs. 70,000 more than what you paid for the commuter-sized sibling earlier, you’d expect more than just extra speed.
In that perspective, you get (dual-channel) ABS on the Gixxer 250, but that’s also now available in the SF 155; though only single-channel in the latter it is still good enough considering its performance. There is not really much else to distinguish in the features department that would solely influence a buy.
The Gixxer SF 250 is built on a modified version of the steel down-tube frame of the Gixxer SF 155, and has a similar suspension setup with the standard 41 mm telescopic fork upfront and a mono-shock at the rear. The geometry of the frame has been tweaked not only to accommodate the bigger engine, but also to help utilize it better, by optimizing the ride and handling parameters like Rake Angle for starters.
The bike copes up well to swift cornering and hard braking, but we felt that it deserved better tyres than the MRF REVZ-C for a more planted feel and shorter stopping distance, giving all the hard work that has gone into the engineering of the Gixxer 250 to be an agile motorcycle. But for everyday use, these tyres are indeed good.
Yes, end of the day, this is not a track tool; its objective is to just appear to be, but not actually be. Its destiny for the most part is going to be all about plying between home, office, gym and café, on some of the busiest roads of the world, and for that, the Gixxer 250 is a fun upgrade to the 100s, 125s and 150s of the motorcycle space. What we are curious to see is how many are actually going to upgrade from the Gixxer / SF 155 to the SF 250?