Everyday motorcycles that promise to be great at one thing are one of the biggest compromises ever! Don’t get me wrong. All motorcycles are fun, and they teach you something, but if you want to sharpen up your skills, an everyday motorcycle often runs out of breath. Or so I thought. You see, recently, I had the pleasure of riding a couple of Suzuki bikes for a few days, and they were very persuasive in changing my opinion. The two motorcycles in question are the Gixxer SF 250 and the V-Strom SX. Both these motorcycles are priced under the Rs 2 lakh mark, with the V-Strom SX being slightly more expensive. After riding these motorcycles for a few days, I was left wanting more. Here’s why…
Heart of The Matter
At the core, both the Gixxer SF 250 and V-Strom SX use the same 249cc single-cylinder engine, which makes about 26bhp and 22Nm. Interestingly, this motor uses neither liquid cooling. Instead, it’s air-cooled but with a twist. A small radiator cools the oil, which flows into the engine, but the engine has no visible fins to dissipate heat. Suzuki has been extremely clever in this case, as they not only managed to have a good engine but also to keep the costs down. As for the engine, it is one of the best 250cc motors out there – not in terms of power or torque but ride experience. Twist the throttle open from a standstill, and it simply darts for the red line. And you quickly find yourself shifting into second. It’s all so linear (read ‘friendly’) that someone upgrading from a smaller displacement motorcycle can easily extract all that power even while riding it for the first time.
Now, one might think that an engine that is eager to rev hard all the time and doesn’t feature liquid cooling will eventually start running hot in traffic, but it doesn’t, which is extremely important for a motorcycle that you ride daily. The one thing that does dampen the ride experience are the vibrations through the pegs – they are more intense on the V-Strom SX than on the Gixxer SF 250. Now, we rode these motorcycles wearing riding boots, which helped dampen out vibrations to an extent, but if you plan to ride these motorcycles wearing regular shoes, the vibrations can be a bit of a bother at higher rpms.
In terms of transmission, both motorcycles get a 6-speed unit, which works smoothly for the most part, although, the gears do get stuck sometimes, especially when you downshift a couple of gears in quick succession, and more so when you downshift hard. However, it’s not apparent when you ride at a leisurely pace. On the other hand, the clutch is light and a breeze to use.
Most people will use these motorcycles for their daily commutes, which means that they must offer good levels of comfort. Let us start with the V-Strom SX, as it is more suited for everyday riding, given its ADV stance. The handlebars fall to hand quite effortlessly, and your upper body stays upright. The seat offers plenty of cushioning, and the suspension soaks in the imperfections of the road with enthusiasm. You do, however, feel a little surprised with the height of the foot pegs, which can put some strain on your legs. I found that extending them fully once in a while helped minimize the discomfort. Another concern for everyday riders could be its seat height of 835mm. If you are under 5 feet 5 inches, you may find it a bit difficult to balance the motorcycle at a standstill. For anyone taller, there is nothing to worry about. The V-Strom SX can take on a pillion passenger quite comfortably as well, and the huge metal rack at the rear that acts as a pillion handhold, can also be used to strap luggage to the motorcycle.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Gixxer SF 250. Sport tourers have a bad reputation for not being everyday commute friendly, but the Gixxer SF 250 proved to be an exception. If you have even an iota of flexibility in your body, you will find that it can handle the daily grind well. Longer rides may put some strain on the rider, but it’s nothing that a light fitness routine can’t fix. The seat height is also friendly, and even shorter riders will find that their feet remain planted on the ground at a standstill. The windscreen, however, is a hoax and barely does anything to keep the wind at bay. A pillion passenger will be relatively comfortable on the Gixxer SF 250 as well but only on shorter rides and not on long highway rides. Also, if you want to carry luggage, we suggest you look at alternatives such as tank bags.
Both motorcycles also come equipped with the Suzuki Ride Connect System. It’s a smartphone application that can be connected to the instrument cluster to give you a slew of data. It can even reflect your notifications on the instrument cluster. The cluster is the same on both motorcycles and is neatly laid out, offering a bunch of information. The only drawback is that it looks a little basic, but, then, I prefer that.
Which One is the Better Teacher?
The whole point of picking one of these motorcycles is that they are easy to use as a commuter, fun to ride, and, at the same time, they can also be used to hone your riding skills. To that end, the V-Strom SX is like your basic language teacher who teaches you how to make words out of an alphabet. This means that the V-Strom will help you learn throttle control, body position, braking, etc., but once you are up to speed, you will start feeling a little limited. For instance, the V-Strom SX gets dual-purpose tyres with a block pattern, but it is not an out and out ADV. So, you you can do mild off-roading but on dirt, the V-Strom SX will run out of things to teach you very quickly.
The Gixxer SF 250, on the other hand, is like a literature professor who teaches you how to put mundane and everyday words to literary use. The Gixxer, in this sense, feels more than the sum of its parts. The biggest advantage it has over the V-Strom SX is that it can corner much harder while remaining surefooted. And for those who enjoy riding motorcycles, isn’t that the dream? It also is a great motorcycle to get your body positioning right, and I can vouch for that. It’s so friendly in the way it behaves that you never hesitate to find the right setting for yourself and, then, try it out on the motorcycle. And even if it’s not the right one, the Gixxer SF 250 will gently let you know what you are doing wrong.
Ultimately, the Gixxer SF is the better teacher, and it costs less than the V-Strom SX. However, what you save in money, you will have to spend on your fitness, for the Gixxer does ask that you be fit – a good reason to hit the gym, eh? As for the V-Strom SX, it will work better as an everyday commuter and won’t demand much from you. Plus, occasionally, you can even let it loose over the rough stuff.
- Suzuki Gixxer SF 250
- Suzuki V-Strom SX
Engine: 249cc / Single-cylinder /AIR-cooled
Transmission: 6 Speed
Power: 26.1bhp @ 9300rpm
Torque: 22.2Nm @ 7300rpm
Price: ₹2.03 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: a high-revving engine and a great handling motorcycle.
• Linear power delivery
• Intuitive handling
• Braking power
Engine: 249cc / Single-cylinder / AIR-cooled
Transmission: 6 Speed
Power: 26.1bhp @ 9300rpm
Torque: 22.2Nm @ 7300rpm
Price: ₹2.12 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: It does everything right, along with mild off-roading.
• Relaxed riding position
• Ride quality
• Engine vibes
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