Images: Jason Critchell
What better place than the UK’s premier bike show at the NEC in Birmingham to launch a new commuter friendly bike? With much of the country cut off by floods and more heavy rain forecast this was likely to be a ride where we’d need waders but thankfully much of the day stayed dry and we only had to ride through one bit of flooded road.
If you cut the new Suzuki Inazuma in half lengthways you’d see the letters C.O.M.M.U.T.E.R running through it’s steel core. This bike is lightweight, low to the ground, nimble, fairly powerful and frugal too, with a claimed 85.87mpg – as measured using the Worldwide Motorcycle Testing Cycle (WMTC). All great attributes for a bike that’s primarily designed as convenient transportation for the masses. The accessory catalogue helps to make the bike even more practical, it includes a 26 litre top box, tank bag, small screen, a centre stand, engine protection bars, an outdoor cover and a tank protector. A larger screen would be a useful addition though to keep the rain and cold at bay but no doubt we’ll see one at a later date. To help make this bike even more attractive Suzuki have priced it to sell at £3408 and have a low rate finance deal on it as well, so the bike could be yours for just £85 per month, which is a figure you can’t really argue with. Just compare it to a months worth of public transport or car parking costs and it’s a no-brainer.
The Inazuma is an all-new machine, built in the Chinese Suzuki factory to help keep costs down as much as possible. Don’t let its country of origin put you off though because quality, fit and finish certainly haven’t suffered as a result. The bike features a new long stroke 248cc parallel twin engine, it’s liquid cooled and fuel injected and comes with a balancer shaft to reduce vibration. The engine is designed to produce good levels of mid range power and it makes 24bhp @ 8500rpm, plus a good dollop of useful torque (16lb.ft to be precise). The bike also qualifies for the new A2 licence, which will come into force in January so it’s perfect for new riders, or somebody looking to downsize to a more practical bike, or maybe a returning rider looking to get back into biking. I expect a fair few training schools will be running them too. The engine is wrapped in a semi double cradle frame, with a single tube splitting into two to save weight and show off the engine a bit. It runs on KYB forks (better known as Kayaba) and has a rear mono shock with 7-step preload. As you’d expect the bike also comes with front and rear disks.
The bike is designed to appeal to the commuter so styling is plain but well executed, nothing too fancy to attract the wrong kind of attention when it’s parked up for the day but everything you need is there, including a nice clear LCD instrument console, complete with gear selection indicator, two trips, fuel gauge, time, service intervals, etc. There’s also an analogue tacho and all the usual idiot lights, all laid out in an easy to read format.
Our test ride was over a 63-mile circular route taking in dual carriageway, twisty country roads, the flooded town of Stratford and even a bit of motorway. Sitting astride for the first time as we prepared to ride out of the NEC show the Suzuki feels comfortable enough and the low seat height means it’s accessible to everybody. The bike pulls away fairly well and the gearbox is nice and slick, so no grumbles there. It quickly becomes apparent that the engine really is built for mid range but you can leave it in sixth gear as you pootle through a village at just less than 30mph, wind the throttle on again as the speed limit changes and it pulls away without lag. It really is a lazy sort of bike that will just pull and pull, in fact the twin cylinder engine always feels like it wants an extra gear, a cursory glance at the gear selector avoids those unnecessary stabs for an imaginary seventh though! If you want to accelerate a bit quicker you can always drop the bike down a cog or two of course and it will pick up speed quite quickly, it starts to make it’s power at around 7,000rpm so keep the needle around there if you want to have a bit of fun. On the motorway the bike feels well planted and stable and we saw just over 80mph on the clock, with a bit more to come given space (we’re told it has a top speed of around 85mph, so that’s £85 a month, 85mpg and a top speed of 85mph). The Inazuma comes with 17” IRC Road Winner tyres as standard, they aren’t a brand we see too often these days but I used to use IRC’s all the time on my scooters during the early 1990’s, the tyres offered plenty of grip during our road test, despite it being cold and damp and I was confident in them whilst cornering and during heavy braking. Talking of brakes, the disks offer plenty of bite but aren’t over powerful which will be perfect for the kind of rider the Inazuma will attract, after all this isn’t a machine aimed at the track day enthusiast. The bikes suspension was also more than adequate, even on the standard settings, although you may just want to add some preload if you’re taking a pillion.
After a good blast around Leamington Spa, Stratford-Under-Avon (it was under whilst we were there) and a few well-heeled towns and villages in Middle England it was time to head back to Birmingham, five riders on identical bikes, all enjoying a cold afternoon ride. Even though the bike is aimed squarely at the commuter market the ride back showed just how much fun you can have on a bike of any capacity if you’re in the mood for a blast. The Suzuki goes around corners well, has enough speed to overtake at will and even when we got back to Motorcycle Live after just over 63 miles the tank had only lost two bars so it certainly won’t cost a fortune to run. This is bargain basement biking but it’s enjoyable nevertheless. If you’re looking for a commuter bike and fancy something new the Inazuma comes well recommended. They’re in your local Suzuki dealership now, don’t forget to tell them that 2Commute sent you…