Everybody likes to pick on the little guy, and motorcyclists are no exception to this. Beginner riders often opt for 250-300cc bikes, with very few actually opting to splurge on a sport bike as their first. We decided to step away from what’s popular, the Honda CBR300R (reviewed here) and the Kawasaki Ninja 300. Our friends at Suzuki Canada set us up with what they believe to be one of the best beginner bikes around, and we used it to commute for almost a month, trying to determine whether or not this is the perfect choice. It may not have the looks of a sport bike, but the 2016 Suzuki TU250X is definitely stylish at first glance.
Powering the little TU250X is a 249-cc air-cooled single cylinder engine. There are very, very few bikes now available with a one-cylinder, but this is one of them. The estimated numbers are about 14 horsepower and 11.3 lb-ft of torque. It’s not meant for power, but Suzuki has implemented things like fuel injection and electric start, features that are not to be taken granted for cheap starter bikes. Riding around the city, we became fans of how easy this little runabout is to toss around. It soon became the choice commuter of our editorial team, with multiple writers taking spins on it just for fun.
The TU250X seriously excels in the city thanks to its weight of just 326 pounds wet. It’s not fast by any means, but wringing out the power and taking it up to redline helps considerably with regards to keeping up with traffic. Its cheap and cheerful nature means it is narrow and the tank isn’t cumbersome to position yourself around. The TU isn’t in its element on the highway, but it gladly held speeds of up to 120 km/h when asked, and longer highway rides were far from scary. Those with highway commutes will want to opt for something a little bit more substantial, but for the urban commute, this little single-cylinder is a small beast.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the TU is almost reminiscent of the Triumph Bonneville (reviewed here). It has a classic, vintage look and was the subject of many questions from passerby. I’ll actually go as far as to say the TU250X is pretty – it doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard to be cool, like many entry-level bikes these days. It’s forthcoming about its nature and that’s an attractive feature. The instrumentation is simplistic and just as classic as the rest of the bike. The speedometer, neutral light, and turn signal indicators are all easy to find.
The TU250 isn’t without its weaknesses though, and its simplicity, as advantageous as it can be, contributes to this. The bike lacks an actual fuel gauge, which comes in handy when your tank is just 12 liters. There is a reserve light, but entry level models from other manufacturers offer a full gauge, which isn’t a lot to ask in 2016. Additionally, the mirrors are a bit wonky to adjust and vibrate far too much to be useful when actually riding the bike.
What I would do with a TU250X is add some knobby, aggressive tires, and try to run it on some mild courses like a dual-sport. The suspension is modest, but with some light upgrades it also has great potential. With a starting price of $4,499, the 2016 Suzuki TU250X is affordable enough to lightly modify and not break the bank. We highly recommend it to anyone looking for an urban commuter motorcycle with plenty of character.