This article was originally published in the June 2001 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Traditionally, Suzuki’s cruiser line has leaned toward the aggressive end of the styling spectrum. Just look at the Intruders and the Marauder. For the most part, the performance of these bikes has been in line with its styling. While the manufacturer had taken steps toward the fatter, more retro-styled segment of the market with the 1500LC and new Volusia, most riders still think of Suzukis as performance machines.

The GZ250 tries to strike a position between Suzuki’s fat and lean cruisers. With the widest front wheel in its class, delivering a classic feel and a turned up rear fender for a sporty look in the back, the GZ is fairly successful in finding the middle ground. In the lightweight cruiser class, it has a look all its own.

The 2001 Suzuki GZ250 has a look all its own with its turned up rear fender and wide front wheel.Dean Groover

The GZ’s engine is an air-cooled 249cc single that gets its displacement from a 72.0 x 61.2mm bore and stroke. The SOHC head breathes through two valves. The head also incorporates Suzuki’s Twin Dome Combustion Chamber (TDCC) which, not surprisingly, features two domes in the top of the combustion chamber to cause a high-speed swirling motion in the intake charge. All this will produce a faster burning fuel mixture and more power. A 32mm Mikuni performs atomization duties, while a sporty megaphone-style exhaust takes care of the waste products. The motivational department is handled by a five-speed transmission and a chain drive.

The chassis is a backbone frame construction. The steering head rakes out to 32 degrees for a laid-back posture. The fat (for this crowd) 2.5-inch by 16-inch front wheel wears a 110/90-16 tire under what is the biggest front fender in its class. Fork stanchions measuring 37mm connect the wheel to the pullback bar. The seat is 27.8 inches from the pavement. Twin shocks assure that the seat stays at that height. Above the 130/90-15 rear tire, the fender helps give the bike a sporty look. In fact, the styling is reminiscent of the Marauder, particularly in the tank design.

The engine puts out strong bottom end and midrange, but falls off in the top end. Hills encountered at highway speeds usually mean a downshift is in your future.Dean Groover

Riding the GZ highlighted how well Suzuki thought out this bike. The riding position was comfortable and ranked as the second favorite with the test riders, although those long of leg did get a bit cramped on lengthy stints in the saddle. Still, one tester said he’d recommend the GZ (along with the Virago) for taller riders looking at the lightweight cruiser class. Most rider comments centered on how everything—the footpegs, bar, seat, controls—were in just the right position. The only notable complaint was the location of the rear brake pedal which some felt required too much forward movement to apply effectively.

The GZ’s power delivery had it tied for second with the Virago. The 250 puts out decent power in the bottom end and midrange, making for a pleasant around town experience. However, the top end is a bit soft in comparison to the other 250s. Hills encountered on the highway usually required a downshift. Engine vibration was intrusive only at very high rpm. The thrifty engine will ask for reserve around 200 miles.

The GZ's front brake required the most effort of the comparison and felt somewhat spongy overall. Although bleeding the system might have helped, we suspect the single piston caliper to be the culprit.Dean Groover

When it was time to slow down, the front brake, while effective, felt fairly soft, requiring more effort than we thought was necessary to stop such a light bike. A couple testers also commented that they felt the steering was a little heavy when compared to its rivals, but this was never a problem.

Votes for the Suzuki’s looks were all over the map, ranging from “all right” to praise. One rider said the GZ was his favorite of the foursome, but he tends to like the fat-look cruisers. When we ranked the Suzuki for user-friendliness, it shot to the top of the list, rivaling the Virago, with one rider ranking it first and two others ranking it second. At $2999, the GZ250 strikes a good balance for an entry-level cruiser.