In this article we look back at the short lived but memorable Suzuki T250 Hustler which dominated the quarter litre scene in the early 70’s.
In the early 70’s Japanese manufacturers were competing across the classes to have the best in each.
Suzuki had launched the T500 in 1967 but the tide was turning and customers were turning to four-strokes for their bigger road bikes.
However, there was a significant penchant for two-strokes in the smaller capacities as they often had bigger performance than their capacity suggested.
In 1966 the T20 X6 Hustler was released and it was generating a reputation for being light and quick and hitting 90mph on a good day.
However, the T20 was very much a 60’s machine with dated features. Suzuki knew they needed to progress the Hustler forward to capitalise on it.
So in 1969 the Suzuki T250 Hustler was ready to go, taking all the best bits from the T20, throwing on a modern styling package and a more powerful, solid engine.
The new Hustler would dominate until 1972 when it was then replaced by the GT250.
Suzuki T250 Hustler Review
In the engine department the T250 featured an updated T20 motor; a 180 degree, piston-ported, two-stroke parallel twin, capable of 33 horsepower at 8,000rpm.
Constructed with alloy heads and barrels with cast iron liners, it was a robust unit that would send the most capable riders up to 90mph and perhaps a little beyond with some finesse.
Twin 24mm Mikuni carbs delivered the fuel; they were enlarged to 26mm in 1971.
It also featured the Suzuki Posi Force system, an automatic oiling system which lubricated the engine, by injecting oil to all the important places.
For 1970 this was updated and renamed CCI and went some way to reduce exhaust emissions by recycling excess oil.
A six speed gearbox was navigated by a wet multi-plate clutch, the new bike had bigger gears than the T20, which meant gear changes were smoother and more reliable.
To ride the little unit is somewhat lacking below 5,000rpm but after that there is plenty of acceleration right up until the 8,000rpm red line.
The Hustler will pull at 4,000rpm but it does feel a little lacklustre, so sitting in traffic around town won’t be much fun until you get your speed up.
The six gears were very smooth to run through and it all equated to a happy cruising speed of 70mph, but with plenty of power to shoot past that mark.
When it came to the chassis Suzuki deployed a slim twin down-tube steel frame. The frame was taken off the T20 but it was increased in rigidity and strength for the new model.
It wasn’t dissimilar in design to the legendary Norton featherbed frame and this design wasn’t missed by reviewers or the public at the time.
It was a winner and despite being lightweight (145kg dry), the quality of the frame led to a very stable ride at speed.
A standard swingarm with twin shocks and 38mm front forks made up the suspension on the T250.
Suspension on early 70’s Japanese bikes was notoriously rubbish, and the T250 was no exception. The twin shocks on the rear would throw you around if you hit a bump on the road.
The setup certainly wasn’t the worst ever, but it wasn’t great, if you are riding one now, you can expect to absolutely notice the difference to a modern bike.
Drum brakes equipped the Hustler and they did the job, not amazing but provided the necessary stopping power relative to the lightweight chassis and 250cc engine.
The GT250 which superseded the Hustler was fitted with disc brakes, which were shockingly poor in the rain.
The Hustler’s drums however, worked in all weathers so that was a worthy credit to the braking system, particularly for riders in the UK where wet weather plagues the nation.
Suzuki made a few changes to the T250 during its production, including a teardrop tank which was adopted in 1970, upgraded forks and new instrument panels.
There was also a scrambler model with high up exhaust pipes.
The bright blue and orange paint schemes, some with candy flaked paint on the later models made for a bike that was a joy to look at.
They sparked happiness in riders, and were overall a great looking motorcycle with a performance to match.
Sure the RG and RGV250 models that were to follow into the 80’s embrace rebel youth a little more than the T250, but the Hustler was a blast at the time and one in good condition to ride today will be sure to put a smile on your face.
The later 250’s from Suzuki make you smile but also spark a flame of panic when you open them up.
Suzuki T250 Specifications
Engine and Transmission
- Engine – Two-stroke, parallel twin
- Capacity – 247cc
- Bore x Stroke – 54 x 54mm
- Compression Ratio – 7.5:1
- Cooling System – Air-cooled
- Induction – 2 x Mikuni carbs
- Max Power – 33 horsepower at 8,000rpm
- Max Torque – 30.2Nm at 7,000rpm
- Clutch – Wet, multi-plate
- Transmission – 6 speed
- Final Drive – Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame – Twin downtube
- Front Suspension – Telescopic hydraulic fork
- Rear Suspension – Swingarm, twin hydraulic shocks
- Front Brakes – Drum, internal expanding, leading shoe, double cam, 180mm
- Rear Brakes – Drum, internal expanding, leading shoe, 180mm
- Length – 1,990mm
- Width – 870mm
- Height – 1,070mm
- Wheelbase – 1,290mm
- Ground Clearance – 160mm
- Seat Height – 785mm
- Dry Weight – 145kg
- Fuel Capacity – 12 litres
Suzuki T250 Top Speed
The Suzuki T250 was capable of speeds in excess of 90mph.
How much is a T250 worth?
T250’s are harder to find than the later GT250 models but that is not to say they don’t exist because they definitely do; there are just fewer on the market.
Prices in the UK vary from £3,500-£8,000. This is largely down to the condition the bike is in and how much of the bike is actually original.
With museum worthy collector pieces being low mileage, original bikes sitting at the high end of the scale. Good quality restorations can also fetch good money.
Bonhams auctioned a T250 off and it went for just £690. It was in need of some work, but that is an absolute bargain, admittedly it was a few years ago but who knows maybe another steal will come up if you keep an eye out.
Prices in the US tend to vary from $1,800-$4,000.
Cycle Trader has a few options available including this one priced at $3,850 with just over 4,000 miles on the clock.
I am unashamedly proud to say that any motorcycle called ‘The Hustler’ you can sign me up for one. It is destined to be cool, especially a hustler from the 70’s.
Now that little statement aside, which says more about me than the bike; the T250 is a brilliant 70’s two-stroke with plenty of usable power to get you into trouble if you go looking for it.
It was a super funky design that many manufacturers are trying to replicate now with their modern retro series and as the old adage goes original is always better.