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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

What I Want: Suzuki GW250 Inazuma

It's not the coolest-looking thing, I'll admit. With its headlight reminiscent of Cobra Commander's helmet and oversized mud guards, the Suzuki GW250 Inazuma has a look that reminds me of Johnny Cash's song "One Piece at a Time" – as if the bike were made from bits they had lying around the factory. Its 250cc engine is equally unlikely to inspire envy in a great many people.

Nonetheless, this, amigos, is the bike I presently have my heart set on. This is the bike I would like to be my first. A commuter bike to its core, I imagine it to be the ideal machine on which to gain full confidence before moving up to something sexier and more powerful.

The riding style is upright, which appeals most to me. Sport bikes just aren't my thing and I can't imagine being able to physically tolerate being bent forward for long stretches of time. Well, I could tolerate it – I'm not that old – but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it.

The Inazuma's 250cc engine, meanwhile, sips fuel. Suzuki claims more than 85 mpg. Reviewers have suggested the actual number is about 10 mpg less, but that's still impressive. It is a bike that is cheap to run, and cheap to buy.

I don't know if money will allow such a thing (probably not), but if possible I'd like to buy my first bike new. Yes, that means I'll be triply stressed about dropping it, but I feel it would be worth it for all the advantages that buying new entails – in terms of reliability, warranty, etc. I don't want to have to be learning how to make major repairs to a bike at the same time as I'm trying to just get comfortable riding one.

The Inazuma comes with a two-year warranty and one year of roadside assistance (1). Most appealingly, it costs £3,408 (US $5,370), which makes it the second-cheapest 250 I've found – the Hyosung GV250 is listed as costing £9 less.

And, all importantly, the Inazuma is thin enough to fit through my garden gate.

When I imagine my first year or so of riding, I picture a series of short trips – many through city congestion – with the occasional jaunt to a spot no more than 50 miles away. It seems to me the Inazuma is built for purpose in such a scenario and will instill in me the confidence and experience to move on to bigger and better things.

What do you think? What would you choose as your first bike?


(1) For those of you living outside the UK, we have several companies that are like AAA but they aren't shit – they actually fix your car on the roadside rather than simply towing you to a garage where you can get financially raped.


  1. I suppose I would choose the Suzuki 250 in the UK, considering the laws on beginners with motorcycles. I personally like the look of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R instead. But in the USA, I would go for something more mid-range, like a 600 or 650. I'm one of those guys who hates buying and selling bikes, I'd rather hang on to a bike and build a connection to it.

  2. My first bike was a Hyosung 250. My sweetheart surprised me at Christmas but by Easter I was ready to get a bigger ride. I sold the 250 and got a V-Star 650. I've been on it for almost 2 years and if I can get the scratch together, I'd love to move up to a 900 or so. I'm only 5 feet tall so I need something low. The wisest advice my sweetie gave me was to start on something that wouldn't terrify me and move up when I was ready. Good luck!

  3. Does Honda still make the 250 Rebel? I haven't looked in a while... Those are cool little cruisers.

    That Suzuki looks pretty sweet. Here's the big question: are you going to be OK with riding at, shall we say, a laid back pace for the next several years? Are you still going to be cool with minimal passing power three years from now? If so, go ahead and get the new one. As you mentioned, reliability and a warranty are very nice things to have.

    If not, buy a used Japanese bike and trade up when you get frustrated with it.

    Note that there is nothing wrong with a 250cc bike. A "starter" bike can also be a "keeper" bike. It just depends on your preferences. Little bikes are slow but, on the other hand, you can do a u-turn in a parking space...

    Also a note about sport bikes: once you've ridden one, you'll know immediately if they're your thing or not, and you might be surprised to discover they're very much your thing. I was. >:)

    Of course my standard advice, which is always correct when it comes to motorcycles is: go for the one that gives you the biggest, dumbest grin.

  4. I own an Inazuma for the last 4 months. Bought it new and it is also my first two wheeler, ever (and I am 58 years old). I cannot compare this bike with anything else, but in my opinion, it was the best buy I could make. I am predominantly a commuter and want to get through the traffic quickly. This bike does it with a smile (and a few heads turned). I have done two 300km rides at an average of 115kms p.h. It does a good cruise with no strain on the engine and more power is available when needed.
    Yes, I can see myself getting a second hand HD in the next few years (for show off weekends and long distance cruises), but my bike of choice for commuting will always be the Inazuma.
    If the Indonesians can use this bike as a police bike, then there's got to be something in it.
    Enjoy your ride.
    Tony in Cape Town, South Africa.

  5. well I bought the new 2013 Suzuki B-KING 250RR INAZUMA here in newzealand and am realy impressed with it in all ways.
    theres not much accessories out there for this bike but I can supply most items that Suzuki cant.
    have a look at my website on this bike and leave a comment thks all from hawk runningbear.

  6. A disclaimer....I am fairly new to motorcycles. With that being said I love this motorcycle. I previously started my journey on two wheeled motorized vehicles by building a motorized bicycle. I moved up to a cheap Chinese scooter, and then a 2007 Honda nighthawk 250. I purchased this motorcycle 3 days ago and I am well pleased. One of my biggest praises for this motorcycle is the fact that it offers sporty styling without forcing me to basically lay forward while riding. It has a very capable 248cc engine which allows me to commute back and forth to work in the up and down and windy Texas hill country. I love the styling and the host of features included at this price point. The fuel injection makes the throttle smooth, the gears feel solid and are easy to use, and Ihave just enough power to handle hills and passing without killing myself as a motorcycle newbie. I think this bike will be a hit for people like me who like motorcycle styling in an unintinidating engine and gearbox package with the fuel efficiency equal to a scooter. I would definitely recommend this motorcycle to anyone who loves riding but does not feel the need to get a sports bike for more acceleration or a cruiser with a huge engine attached along with a hefty price tag. By the way I am 6'3" and over 200 pounds. Great job Suzuki!

  7. Thanks for this review! tomorrow I'm going to get exactly this pedals. Any other suggestion or comment. Thanks,

  8. My advice is don't buy a new bike as your first bike. Not only because chances are you will drop it in a u-turn, but mostly because of the break-in of the engine and the wheels. It's seems like pain you could avoid. I would recommend buying a bike with 5k kilometers on the odometer. That way, the break-in is already done, so is the 5k kilometers servicing and, it's almost like new.


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