1972 Suzuki T250 Hustler
1972 Suzuki T250 Hustler
Photo by Roland Brown
Years produced: 1969-1972
Claimed power: 32hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 90mph (approx.)
Engine type: 247cc two-stroke, air-cooled parallel twin
Weight: 146kg (322lb)
Price then: $699 (U.S. 1971)
Price now: $1,000-$2,000
MPG: 50 (est.)
I was halfway out of the door of the classic bike dealership, heading for home, when the little blue Suzuki in the corner caught my eye. It was unrestored, slightly dusty and clearly hadn’t been ridden for ages.
The bike was still instantly recognizable as a Hustler, the 250cc two-stroke twin that enjoyed a fearsome reputation in the early 1970s, and I couldn’t resist asking if there was any chance of a ride.
Half an hour later, my head was tucked down between the raised handlebars, and my eyes were glancing back and forth between the road and a slightly faded speedometer whose needle was creeping towards the 90mph mark. Down below, the two-stroke engine was revving almost to its 8,000rpm redline as I prepared to snick the six-speed gearbox into top gear. But I had every confidence the T250 wouldn’t let me down, almost 35 years after it had first burbled out of a showroom to make some youthful owner the king of his local roads.
Way back when …The Hustler was one of the bikes that put Suzuki on the map in the early Seventies — perhaps more than any other model. Its capable big brother (the T500 twin) had been around for two years when the T250 was launched in 1969, but the bigger two-stroke never quite captured the imagination of a motorcycling public that preferred four-stroke engines when it came to larger road bikes.
On the other hand, most riders regarded two-stroke engines as a perfectly acceptable way of obtaining high performance from a smaller package, and the T250’s predecessor, the T20 X6 Hustler, had already established a sound reputation in that regard. Launched in 1966, the 247cc two-cylinder T20 was light and quick (good for over 90mph, it was even raced successfully), and its six-speed transmission was a first for a production machine. But the T20 was very much a bike of the 1960s, with dated features that included a chromed gas tank with rubber knee pads and an optional, accessory tire pump that clipped to the frame in bicycle fashion.
Suzuki’s achievement with the T250 Hustler was taking all the good bits of the T20 and bringing them screaming into the 1970s with a modern styling package, combined with a more powerful and robust engine. Even the T250 designation was much more logical than “T20.” And the Hustler name — dictionary definition: “lively or energetic person; disco dance with a variety of steps” — was perfectly suited to a bike that required plenty of rider input (including quick footwork) and responded with giant-killing performance.
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