Suzuki VanVan 200 first ride

Published: 24 June 2016

Suzuki’s oddball VanVan 200 is nothing new. Both the VanVan 125 and 200 have been around since 2003, but with only the 125 so far available in the UK. For 2016, Suzuki have decided to treat us to the 200cc variant.

You’d be forgiven for not noticing any differences and, to be fair, there aren’t any important ones. The engine has been bored and stroked to 200cc and it has lost a gear, making it a five-speed. Everything else is the same; it retains the distinctive and simple design, that fat seat, diddy 6.5-litre tank and ridiculously large tyres, which look like they’ve been pumped full of Botox – all characteristics that make the VanVan stand out from the huge pool of 125cc competition.

And now, armed with an extra 75cc, Suzuki hope introducing the 200 to the UK will attract two more groups of riders, particularly A2 licence-holders stepping up from 125s and those looking for a fun second bike.

While the VanVan 125 makes a great learner machine, the 200 is probably not the best idea for those moving up a size as it’s still a pretty basic machine, while its performance advantage is only slight.

An analogue speedometer and three lights (petrol, indicator and neutral) form a bum-basic dash. The twin-pot front Tokico brake does a good enough job of stopping in a hurry, but the rear is old school drum and there’s no ABS. Both the front fork and rear suspension work well enough, but are basic at best.

For an extra £500 more than the 125, power is up by just under five horsepower and torque by 3.86ftlb, nothing to write home about there either. Coming from a 125, owners will expect and want more from their next bike.

However, the 200 is a far more attractive proposition as a second bike. The VanVan has a boisterous charm that turns heads everywhere, mainly thanks to its 180-section rear tractor tyre, which is more than a styling exercise and helps make the VanVan a truly versatile machine.

The grippy Dunlop K180s mean you can shoot up gravel tracks and fly over jumps and generally mess about all day long. The limit to the fun is the suspension, which quickly becomes overwhelmed off road, but as long as you keep within its limits the VanVan makes for a brilliantly capable and effortless machine.

The seat is so thick and wide it’d give a BMW R1200RT a run for its money on comfort. It’s incredibly light at 128kg and super easy to flick through traffic and around town thanks to the low 770mm seat height. It’s a great little commuter too. It’s only when speeds reach 65mph that the VanVan runs out of enthusiasm (top speed is 70mph), so motorways are best avoided.

Verdict

Suzuki’s VanVan 200 is the same loveable oddball as its smaller 125cc counterpart. An extra 75cc isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it does make it more attractive for those looking for a utilitarian, fun, versatile and capable machine.

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