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Period Roadtests

1969 Suzuki T250 Hustler (Two Wheels December 1969)
Thanks to my daughter (monique) for the typing

With the accent on the big bore machinery these days, a few of the manufactures have brouht out a completely new model in the medium class. The T250 Suzuki Hustler is a case in point. The styling and colours have changed but basically it is the same motorcycle realised a few years back.

Power is up slightly to 32 bhp, but this is the onlymajor mechanical change. The biggestchanges have been in the styling department. Certainly the new tank shape and new colours make the Hustler among the moststriking of motorcycles. And the six-speed gearbox make it one of the most facinating. Playing with the gearbox is a lot of fun, but looked at rationally the sixth gear is almost useless.

A five-speed gearbox would do the job just as well. Sixth is strictly a dead-level, no-headwind gear. The first sign of a hill means a change down to fourth, so why have to change down two gears? But that six-speed box has marvellous pose value.

Riding the Hustler is pleasent under almost all circumstances. So long as the engine is kept on the boil- and the excellent gear box ensures that it is- the Suzuki has more than enough power for touring. It handles and brakes well and it is light enough to throw around.

At around 300 lb, the machine is heavy for a 250.
Actually this is a fairly common failing with Japanese 250s.
A quick look at the respective dry weights of the sports 250s on the market is quite interesting.

Weight = LB's
Suzuki Hustler
Yamaha DS6
Montesa Impala
Ducati Mk III
Bultaco Metralla

So the Hustler is actually the lightest of the current crop of Japanese 250s. It is still 55 lb heavier than the heaviest of the Europeans, most of which is a penalty for having gone the more complex, heavier twin route as against the singles of the Europeans.

However, for everyday riding the weight difference is of little importance, and the Hustler is certainly a better all-round machine than the Continentals.

It is very easy to start, and once started idles smoothly and quietly. The Suzuki's town manners are faultless- it has power enough to cope with all traffic situations. Even two up, nothing is going to run over the Hustler. Pottering along in stop-go traffic is as easy, if not plesent. The T250 idles along without snatching or overheating.

Away from the city traffic the Hustler shines. It is fast and smooth, and very quick point-to-point. No, I'm not repeating myself; some cycles can be very fast without being fast point-to-point. Straight-line performance is an indication of a cycles potential, but it is not an indication of how quickly one can travel on the road.

Handling and braking are also important, and perhaps most of all the rider must feel confident in his machine. One can not feel happy travelling fast on a tight winding road riding a machine that feels as if the centre of gravity is about a foot above one's head- and there are motorcycles that give this feeling.

The Hustler, however is a confidence-builder and after a few miles on it one can begin to travel quickly.

The machine will cruise happily at around 70 mph all day with little rider discomfort. Above this speed the handlebars, which require an upright seating position, cause the body to act as a wind sock and it becomes very tiring.

The machine can be zipped through bends with safety and its 7 in. Double-leading-shoe brakes will pull the machine down to manageable speeds with the proverbial "giant hand."

A TWO WHEELS road test consists of riding the machine for as many miles as possible, over as many different road surfaces as possible, in as many different conditions as possible, as hard as possible.

We do not subject the machine to a series of crash stops from 100 miles an hour to test the braking efficiency.

Such information is no doubt of interest to an engineer, but after all how many crash stops in a row does a normal rider make? So long as the machine works and works well (we believe in gaining an impression of the machine from a potential rider's point of veiw) under normal road conditions, pushed a good deal harder then the average rider is ever likely to, we will say that it is a good machine. If it does not work we will criticise it.

The Hustler is a good machine. over a week and a half of testing, including some longish trips into the country, the T250 gave us no cause for alarm.

Acceleration is amazing. The engine must be revved hard for maximum results and when moving we pulled 9000 in the lower gears without effort. We had little trouble matching the Suzuki against the Norton Mercury in acceleration. In fact, even at fairly high speeds where one would expect the bigger capacity machine to out-accelerate the 250, the Suzuki stayed happily with the 650.

The rider is well catered for on the Suzuki. The seat is long, wide and soft, which makes up for the firm suspension. Carrying a pillion passenger is no trouble ar there is adequate room.

The handlebars are well positioned for normal riding and are fine for average touring. I found the foot pedals well positioned and both the gear lever and the brake light to use.

The headlamps are fine. Low beam is good for suburban running and the high beam excellent for touring, with a particularly long throw. The horn makes a noise.

Finish is fine. The test unit was finished in a rather beaut colour revelling in the name of Mesa Orange (complete with a black racing stripe (?) on the tank) with black quilted seat and black frame.

It has as standard equipment a set of very legible, matched tachometer and speedometer. This is a feature of practically every Japanese motorcycle these days and it is amazing that a tach should be fitted, considering the price. They are seldom on European machines costing over twice as much.

The gearbox, in spite of my earlier remarks is superb. Missed shifts are a rarity, the lever is light and and gear selection positive. The ratios of the four lower gears are well chosen and are suitable for most riding. The top two ratios are fine for fast cruising on the flat, but almost useless on hilly country or around town.

The gearbox is well matched to the 32 bhp at 8000 rpm power plant (up from 29 bhp at 7500). For best performance the engine should be kept within the 7000/9000 rev band, but it pulls slowly from low revs and can be idled along at low revs in first and second gears.

Clutch action is light and positive and showed no signs of slip, even after a number of hard acceleration runs.

All in all, the Suzuki Hustler T250 is a very good motorcycle. It has only 250 cc, so that it qualifies for the low NSW registration/third party fees, but is possessed of the sort of performance associated with only the hot 650s a few years ago.

It is a well-finished, comfortable, safe tourer which can be used equally as an everyday about town motorcycle. At $595 it must be one of the best bargains going in motorcycles.

Test machine supplied by Hazell & Moore, Campbell St, Sydney.

If you need work done on your classic machine, from basic service to full rebuilds, contact me, I can help.

Period Roadtests

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