Suzuki TS Motorcycles
Image courtesy of: motorbike-search-engine.co.uk
For many motorcycle buyers, the lure of a motorcycle that could perform two functions – commuting and off-road riding – was very tempting. So much so that manufacturers developed a range of such machines to meet the market need.
Yamaha was the first to mass produce a dual-sport machine (as they became known) with their DT range which was introduced in 1967/8. However, many motorcycles had been used over the years for more than one purpose and Triumph could claim to have produced the first dual sport with the Mountain Cub.
Following shortly after the introduction of the Yamaha was the Suzuki TS250, a machine based loosely on the company’s MX machines which would go on to win the world championships in 1970 with rider Joel Robert. The TS was a single cylinder 2-stroke with a 70.0 x 64.0-mm respectively bore and stroke, giving an actual capacity of 246-cc. (Interestingly, the works MX machine’s had reverted to this bore and stroke combination – they originally used 66 x 73-mm – to give a better spread of power).
The TS250 was considerably heavier than the DT1 Yamaha (280 lbs compared to 230 lbs) but was, nonetheless, a capable street or off road bike. The Suzuki engine produced 23 hp which was fed through a 5-speed gearbox to the rear wheel.
Early versions of the Suzuki used a flywheel magneto and points system for lighting and ignition systems, but this was changed to fully electronic ignition (CDI) from the 1971 R model onwards. However, the early versions did have the popular posi-lubrication oil system known as Crankcase and Cylinder Injection (CCI).
The TS250 is a reasonable all round classic motorcycle today. The engine starts easily from cold (not all the bikes from that era did!) after selecting the manual choke lever. The engine carburates cleanly throughout the range.
The gearbox is typical Japanese – clean selection with well-chosen ratios – and progress through the gearbox is brisk if not particularly fast. The relatively tall top gear (5th) is well suited to highway travel where the little bike can hold 55 mph easily all day. For street use, the suspension is good offering well damped long travel.
However, off road the Suzuki is best suited to forestry fire lanes or any section without too many bumps. Typically the bike will display a tail happy riding experience wherever lose ground is encountered.
Brakes are basic but were adequate for the time. The single leading shoe front and rear brakes work well in the dry but suffer (as do most brakes of the time) in wet or muddy conditions.
Specifications of the 1969 TS250:
Engine: Piston ported single cylinder air-cooled 2-stroke. Bore 70-mm x stroke 64-mm. Produces 23 hp at 6,500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed wet multi-plate clutch to chain final drive
Front Suspension: Oil damped telescopic forks
Rear Suspension: Twin coil-over shocks with pre-load adjustment
Front Tire: 275 x 21”
Rear Tire: 400 x 18”
Ground Clearance: 9.5” (240-mm)
Seat Height: 34.6” (880-mm)
Dry Weight: 280 lb’s (127 kgs)
Prices for an early example in excellent condition are relatively low at $2,000 compared to an equivalent Yamaha DT1 at $4,200 which would suggest the Suzuki is due for a price increase if the current popularity of early dual sport bikes continues. Parts availability for the Suzuki is reasonable with most mechanical parts still available.
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