SUZUKI RGV250 (1987-1997) Review

Published: 09 December 2009

"A bike that looked just like the RGV500 Kevin Schwantz rode in 500cc Grand Prix"

Suzuki RGV250

"A bike that looked just like the RGV500 Kevin Schwantz rode in 500cc Grand Prix"

  • At a glance
  • 249cc  -  56.6 bhp
  • 30 mpg  -  112 miles range
  • Insurance group: 15 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Medium seat height (766mm)

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Back in the late 1980s and early 90s the two-stroke RGV250 was the closest thing you could get to a Grand Prix bike on the road. If you were lucky enough to own what we regard as the best RGV250: the ‘N’ model, complete with its twin, piggy-back exhaust cans, upside down forks and a banana swingarm, here was a bike that looked just like the RGV500 Kevin Schwantz rode in 500cc Grand Prix.

The RGV250 ran from 1987 to 1997, but they were only officially imported into the UK from 1989 (RGV250 K) to 1994 (RGV250 R). It was a crime against motorcycling when Suzuki decided not to bring the beautifully curvy 1996/97 RGVs to our shores (or the 1991 SP version), which included the fantastic limited edition SP model, complete with a dry clutch, ram air and 70bhp.

Back in the day 250cc race replicas were the sharpest handling, most frenzied, maddest things you could buy on two wheels. Nowadays the RGV250 is a modern classic and is probably a bit slower and softer than you’d remember. It still looks good, sounds amazing and the smell of burning two-stroke oil will take you right back. Put simply, it’s still sensational. 

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Compared to the best sportsbikes of today, with their fat tyres, stiff frames and racing suspension, the old RGV250 can seem a bit ‘woolly’ by comparison. But, with a good set of tyres and well sorted suspension the Suzuki will keep up with the best of them on tight B roads. The beefy aluminium frame and swingarm is more than a match for the power on tap, so the trick with the RGV is simply never to let off for the corners! Later models handle better than the early ‘K’ and ‘L’ bikes, but are 11kg heavier (up from 128kg to 139kg) thanks mainly to the heavier ‘banana’ and braced swingarms.

Engine 5 out of 5

From the RGV250K to the RGV250R (the officially-imported UK models) the liquid-cooled, two-stroke, 249cc 90°V-twin remained fundamentally the same. Although they made around 55bhp@10,500rpm, give or take, the motors didn’t have to push much weight along so the Suzuki was still blindingly quick. Like any fast two-stroke, despite the power valves, there’s not much going on at low revs, so you’ve got to keep it revving to get anywhere fast.   

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Left unmolested, well-maintained and fed with good-quality (read ‘bloody expensive’) two-stroke oil, RGV engines are pretty reliable. Any deviation from this can spell a whole world of trouble. The chassis parts are all well-built, but the overall finish is lacking, so unless fastidiously looked-after RGVs can look tatty very quickly. Stay well clear of ex-race examples.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Depending on the age and model, a good RGV is going to cost around the £1500-mark, although they don’t come up that often. If you do manage to find one in good condition, it’s a little amount of money for a lot of fast, sexy, mental, stinking, two-stroke history. Find a Suzuki RGV250 for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The RGV is an unashamed lightweight no-frills package, there’s no electric start here, you have to kick it into life yourself. But in its day, the ‘M’ and ‘N’ models had lots of technology from 500cc Grand Prix, like upside down forks, 17” wheels, a braced ‘banana’ swingarm and fully adjustable suspension. Compare and buy parts for the RGV250 in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their SUZUKI RGV250 (1987-1997) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

1994 RGV 250 R VJ22

06 February 2011 by steelsey

I love this bike so much! Although mine is now 17 years old, it's no spotty adolescent! Yes it has it's tantrums from time to time but it's what you should expect from a feisty 2 stroke! Straight out of the box the bike is not ideal for the UK... Read more market! Designed for 7 stone Jap riders the springs in both the forks and shock are too soft and give the bike a wooly ride. But with the many many upgrades available for the RGV (especially the VJ22) it doesn't take too long to sort out and bring the bike into 2011. Some people (like my self) opt for utilizing the fork internals from a 94 ZXR400! With a small 20mm spacer the internals from the ZXR forks drop straight in giving the RGV stiffer springs and adjustable rebound damping. On the rear the shock can be serviced and improved but I would recommend replacing it with an Ohlins if your budget can stretch! With these areas sorted the bike will handle fantastically and always deliver a smile as you out brake a chubby 1000cc bike into the turns. Other upgrades available such as improved heads, exhausts and power valves (the bane of the RGV and a must to improve for all owners) all contribute to increasing the bikes performance and reliability. Being a 2 stroke they are very easy to work on, repair and maintain. With a bit of knowledge, time and a steady hand you can tune the barrels and eek out more power from the small 250cc engine. Although not a bike you want to go touring on the RGV is a race bike on the road and fuel economy is not great especially when you are addicted to the power-band surge that all owners live for. To me the power-band on all 2 strokes is what I love the most (after the smell) I love the sense of power kicking in from a powerless bottom end to a steady climb to a sudden punch in the gut sensation. Once you hit the power-band you live to stay in that zone and as a result the bike makes you work really hard to maintain your speed. You can't brake hard, mess up a corner and use all your horse power to put you back on track like on a 600 for example, you need to be precise each and every time, and when you are no other bike will make you feel so good than a 250.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 1 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1987
Year discontinued 1997
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £38
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 56.6 bhp
Max torque 29 ft-lb
Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 30 mpg
Tank range 112 miles
Specification
Engine size 249cc
Engine type Two-stroke V-twin
Frame type Aluminium beam
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 766mm
Bike weight 128kg
Front suspension Fully-adjustable (M-R model)
Rear suspension Fully-adjustable (M-R model)
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs
Rear brake 210mm disc
Front tyre size 110/70 17 in (M-R model)
Rear tyre size 150/60 17 in (M-R model)

History & Versions

Model history

1989 – RGV250 K. The RGV is officially imported into the UK.
1990 – RGV250 L. Bigger 34mm carbs and fully-adjustable suspension.
1991 – RGV250 M. Facelift model, including a new 17” rear wheel, upside down forks and ‘banana’ swingarm.
1992 – RGV250 N. Detail changes including a shorter seat unit and gold-coloured forks. The best RGV250 officially brought into the UK.
1993 – RGV250 P. Banana swingarm replaced with a braced item.
1994 – RGV250 R. Colour changes.

Other versions

Various other Japanese-spec models, including RGVs built from 1995-onwards, ‘SP’ versions and the naked 1989/90 ‘Wolf’ model.

Photo Gallery

  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250
  • Suzuki RGV250