Suzuki TU250X, Piaggio MP3 500 long-termers arrive at Hell For Leather office

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We’ve just taken delivery of our first two long-term test bikes, a Piaggio MP3 500 and Suzuki TU250X. Initial impression are that the MP3 feels a little weird, but is lots of fun, while the Suzuki is surprisingly capable for a 250cc four-stroke. We’ve got big plans for both bikes — adventures on the Piaggio, customization for the Suzuki — so stay tuned for updates over the next few months. It looks like it’s going to be a summer for riding fast on slow bikes.

  • Enthusiast

    Keep an eye on the water pump (mp3 500). Sometimes they leak water from the pump side, sometimes they leak oil on the shaft side.

  • robotribe

    I’ll take one of each, please.

    For the Suzuki specifically, please proceed here and abuse that credit card: Smokin’hot goodies

    That TU250 is begging for it.

  • contender

    Long-term testers?? HFL is all growed up. I’m so proud.

  • aoelus

    250? Scooter? Humph. I expected a Bimmer S1000RR
    for Wes to take to the limit on the Bronx Parkway.

    • Wes Siler

      Maybe next summer, but probably not in the Bronx.

  • will

    I adore the TU250! Will stay pert for updates. Are we doing suggestions? isn’t a bad place to start.

  • jwinter

    That’s your office? I live like 5 blocks away. Can I come by the office for a beer?

    • Wes Siler

      We use the term office loosely. You can usually find us there on Monday evenings following a race.

      • jwinter

        Hmmm, I may drop by. I wanted to pick some people’s brains about photo stuff relating to racing.
        Sorry, off topic.

  • Sid

    I think the MP3 looks like some kind of creepy demonic parrot.

  • dave

    Ohh…. TU 250 eh?

    Nice… I’ve been waiting for one to hit the floor of our local ‘zuk dealership. When asked about it the other day, I was told they wouldn’t be getting any, b/c “no-one wants those kinds of bikes.” WTF?!? Okay, a**hole… I guess I won’t be buying ANYTHING from you guys…

    BTW, said dealership is FULL of sportbikes and Big Heavy Cruisers. Oh, and Trikes. LOTS of trikes..

    • Kevin

      Dave, don’t give up, look for another dealer. I got my TU250 in July from a very accommodating Suzuki dealer, and the next day there was another one prepped and on the showroom floor. It’s a GREAT bike, well worth seeking out. I’m really enjoying mine! From the first moment I sat on it, I knew I wanted it …

  • SJY

    I would like to see a bike just like the TU250 but with bigger cc. Like a TU 500 or 750. The design of the 250 is timeless.

    When I saw the reaction of a couple old timers at the dealer show they said, “it looks like a REAL motorcycle”. That impression stuck with me.

  • ISellMotorcycles

    We didn’t order the TU250, but the MP3 does look like Big Bird with down syndrome. Braaap

  • Tim

    So how’s the road tests going???

    I’ve had my MP3 500 since OCT and have put 2100 miles on it so far in snow, ice, rain, and now heat.

    It really seems like a good solid scoot but I’d like to hear from someone who’s got more miles in the seat than I.

    If you guys need any input, or benchmark road tests, let me know!!!

    • ken

      I have had my 500 for 13 months—10,300 miles with no problem. I replaced the rear tire at 8500 miles. The two front tires are still good. I added a top case and windscreen from I drive ts almost everyday on the freeway at about 75mph and get 57+ mpg So far I have had no problems. It startes first time every time. I recommend it highly.

      • john

        Hi, not a very active forum, but I’ll give it a shot. Just bought a used (480 m) mp3 500 today. Could you update us on your experience or is it not riding weather yet? Thanks, john

        • Grant Ray

          John, this is a rather old feature, so feel free to do a search on “MP3 500.” Or you can just read our review.

  • noobracer

    Would love this to be my first bike but is it really safe to ride this (or any other 250 for that matter)in traffic? I’m worried it won’t have enough “pep” to get me out of a sticky situation. Any advice from veteran riders that started on a 250 would be greatly appreciated!

    • Kevin

      Noobracer, in answer to your question … I replaced my Kawasaki Vulcan 500 Ltd with the Suzuki TU250 and am very pleased with the ‘zuk. It actually feels like it has more torque off the line than the kwak, and the power delivery stays even as the revs go up, making it easier to ride in traffic. Maneuverability is much better, with a lighter, crisper, faster feel than the kwak, so I think it is easier to get out of trouble; certainly I’m more confident of accident avoidance maneuvers. To borrow a phrase my from British sports car days, the TU250 is ‘tossable’. If you’re at mid revs, then, yes, the 250 is not as quick in a straight line sense, but so far this has not been a concern; I think it has enough oomph. In case you’re interested, I have had it on the interstate, indicated 75 mph, and a feeling that there was more to be had, but didn’t want to push in during the break in period.

      Haven’t timed it, but 0-60 feels like it’s in the 9-10 second range, so it could be quicker. On the other hand, you’re less likely to lose control in a moment of stress/adrenaline, which strikes me as a good thing when you’re on the early part of the learning curve. Surprisingly, I’ve haven’t yet felt like I was out of the pace of traffic leaving a light. I’m usually well out front in the 0-40 range.

      Bottom line: with the fuel injection, great clutch, and good gearbox, I think you’ll be surprised by how solid is the TU250′s performance. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better bike for a beginner, or anyone just looking a have some nice, lighthearted fun. I’m keeping mine!

  • Matt

    I bought my TU250X about a month ago and have already put on 1100 miles. Any excuse to ride the thing; from commuting to work to running to the store. It’s an awesome bike. The 250 feels like it’s a larger engine and i suspect that’s the fuel-injection. I love it and will keep this bike for a long time.

  • YzPlayr

    Suzuki TU250 – looking to buy one soon, but the pathetic numbers delivered to MT long ago sold. Might have to wait until the 2011′s are delivered around July. This little bike is ripe for transformation into a cafe racer with minimal modifications. Question: Does anyone have a recommendation for providing a bit of a performance bump by replacing the stock muffler and/or the air intake? Not looking to spend a fortune to do it, but there must be a solution out there. I just can’t seem to find it. Thanks!

    • Jay

      Kind of easy and cheap to get the cafe racer look. I have a fantastic photo from the web, but don’t know what site it’s from. Rear seat off and different bars. $30 if you are smart. I’d leave everything as is otherwise, parts are hard to find and expensive. You can find lots of parts from Japan, but expect to pay double of what the prices are here.