The Suzuki worker who named this bike Inazuma must be a bit of a rogue. Inazuma is Japanese for lightning.
While this Suzuki Inazuma 250cc learner-approved motorcycle certainly looks the part, it’s by no means as quick as lightning. Still, it’s nimble and quick through the traffic so long as you are willing to work the gears and keep the throttle pinned.
This 250cc road bike is competing against some stiff competition in the LAMS commuter bike segment such as the new KTM 390 Duke, Honda CB500s and the top-selling bike in Australia, the Kawasaki Ninja 300. However, at just $4990 (+ on-road costs), it has a real price advantage. And if you’re quick participating dealers are doing free on-road costs until the end of June.
It might not be super-quick, but it has a Transformers style about it that will get the pulse racing. Up front is a Storm Trooper helmet-style small cowl with the indicators built into the fuel tank cover Down the side are aluminium-like side panels that resemble armour and up back are bright dual-lens tail and brake lights.
The rearview mirrors are designed especially for the bike and are nicely shaped. They integrate into the design, rather than being afterthoughts. However, I have to move my elbows in to get 100% vision of the road behind. The only practical drawback to the styling are the two chromed exhaust mufflers which look nice but are superfluous weight for the bike.
The Inazuma is powered by a smooth four-stroke, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled, SOHC engine. Suzuki doesn’t give power or toque figures, but its virtue is not its oomph, it’s in the refinement, rev-ability and smoothness. While many LAMS bikes are single cylinder and can be quite vibey, this is as smooth as silk. At high revs it tingles slightly, but otherwise it feels very refined.
The instrument panel has a gear selector indicator which is handy for beginner riders and a maintenance reminder which is also convenient. There is a digital speedo, analogue tacho and a screen that shows odo, two trip meters, fuel gauge and the clock if you click through the selector button located next to the screen. You don’t really even need the tacho as it quickly spins around to the 11,000rpm redline where it hits a very soft limiter. Keep the revs spinning in this stratosphere and you will make quite acceptable progress through the commuter traffic and even keep pace with the highway traffic.
The only problem out here is the lightweight 183kg bike does tends to shimmer in the wake of big trucks. However the wide handlebars allow you to steady the ship. They also help you perform tight turns and cope with twisty roads.
Soft is a word that comes to mind when assessing the handling, seat, brakes and controls. The telescopic forks chew up the worst of urban tarmac bomb craters without twitching and wanting to throw you off. There is also a hidden, seven-way adjustable spring preload rear mono-shock system so you can adjust for luggage and a pillion.
Rider and pillion will feel comfortable on the cushy, wide bench seat and there is a nice wide grab handle at the back plus plenty of tiedown points for luggage on the back seat if you don’t carry a pillion. The tank is made of metal so you can also throw on a magnetic tank bag for extra load carrying ability.
Out on the highway there is no buffeting, just a clear stream of air over the headlight cowl.
Most riders will feel comfortable with the low 780mm seat, but as a tall rider I was a little cramped in reach to the pegs. All the same, my knees tuck neatly into the recesses around the tank and reach to the bars is comfortable.
Brakes are also on the soft side, but it doesn’t have to stop a big weight, so they are quite effective even though it has a single disc up front. Gears feel mushy and vague yet all six engaged positively with no false neutrals and neutral easy to locate. Clutch has a very light feel and you could work these gears all day in traffic and not get cramps in your left hand.
If you need a stylish commuter that can also handle the occasional highway ash and won’t break the bank, give the Inazuma a try.
Suzuki Inazuma 250 tech specs
Price: $4990 (free on-road costs until the end of June 2014)
Warranty: 2-year, unlimited-kilometre
Engine: 248cc 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, SOHC Bore x stroke: 53.5mm x 55.2mm