The TR using the engine design of Masanao Shimizu first emerged in 1967 as part of a factory effort for the TT of that year but its development dates back to the year before. The US received the first of the X6 race machine, heavily based upon the latest road going 250 of the same name, and a first in motorcycling because of its 6-sopeed gearbox, in time for the 1966 Daytona 100 race. Dick Hammer brought the new Suzuki home in 2nd place behind Gary Nixons Yamaha TD1B, it was close however and Hammer, starting from the back of the grid, did pass Nixon only to drop back when a brake lever broke.
Following on from developments stateside, the decision was made to use the basic engine and chassis set up to create a full-blown racer that could be mde available to all as a production racer. The result of this work, the TR250, wasn’t an instant success and problems were common, seizures and other such top end failures being the main reason for lack of success. The new racer appeared in time for the 67 TT with three machines entered for the 250 event, two of the trio, Rex Butcher and Kevin Cass, failing to finish. These were not full factory machines but rather supported by the UK importers, and as such the first Suzuki racers to be based upon road machinery, the factory keen to withdraw from racing to reduce costs and doing so fully at the end of that season.
After the TT the machine were sold off to dealers and Eddie Crooks acquired one of the three, TR250 chassis number 10022. Frank Whiteway, riding that year for the Crooks team in the production TT on a T20 Suzuki, , and returned with it to Crooks of Barrow in Furnace and quickly set about sorting out the unreliability problems that had beset the Suzuki twin. The cause was narrowed down to piston and ring failures not helped by wandering timing and very high compression ratios. With the TR250 sorted Frank rode the machine at the Manx GP of that year.
At the end the 1967 season, a handful of machines were assembled using the remaining stock of parts from that season. In total around …. were made available, at a cost of £495 and Crooks Suzuki purchased the machine seen here, chassis number 10026. In the off season, Malcolm Uphill approached Eddie Crooks for support for the following season, and came away with 10026, which he ran in the TT of that year finishing 4th in the 250 race, the first non factory machine home, and 10th in the junior. Uphill enjoyed good success all season with the Suzuki before returning it to Crooks, where it was then sold on for £420 to Eddie Johnson from Newcastle. Whiteway continued the stunning form of the now sorted TR250s by winning the 250 Manx GP, he had a new TR250 at his disposal, one of a batch brought in that year by Suzuki GB, but, after a less than pleasing practice on the new machine, chose to ride 10022 and to great effect.
In 1969 Crooks once again entered a brace of TR250s for the 250 TT, this time in a higher state of development, and with Frank Perris on board, the twin lapped faster than the 4-cylinder works Suzukis had in 196….going some way to showing just how potent the TR250 could have been with some serious input from the factory. Whiteway, was also drafted into the TT team, finishing a creditable 5th and winning the R.B.Westover trophy for the best newcomer that year.
Back stateside and the US Suzuki team had the resources to develop the TR250 further still and continued to do so until the end of the1970 season but never could compete with the year on year influx of more modern Yamahas
History will remember the Yamaha series of machines more favourably than the rest, arguably the Yam became the best bike due to the numbers produced and the amount of private development that went into them.
Like the TD1 series, it was left to private individuals to make the TR into a real racer and that they certainly did, but on a much smaller scale and with it considerably less success. Eddie Crooks and his team soon discovered the main reason for the first TR failures the compression was way too high and the pistons and rings too weak, leading to failures.
Once sorted, using Wiseco pistons and rings, the Suzuki TR showed its full potential albeit for a brief period before the plug was pulled on the project
Never quite as quick as the multitude of highly developed Yamaha TD1s but for the lack of investment from Suzuki it certainly could have been.
Once sorted the TR was generally faster than the Yamahas especially once in sixth gear where the top speed on the longer road circuits could be used to great effect. Factory Yamaha fours generally 20mph quicker but there tenure at the sharp end of the race was closing fast as the rule changes to be implemented in 1970 saw the factories ceasing development well before that point.
The Tr was an advanced design when compared to the early 60s thinking of the TD series. Yamaha were a good few years before they adopted the horizontal crank case design and 6 speed gear box that eventually grew into the TZ series of machinery. If Suzuki had stuck at it and not been distracted by the T500 twin then who knows what could have been.
Suzuki TR250 Specifications
- Engine – Air cooled, piston port, parallel twin cylinder, 2-stroke
- Capacity – 247.34cc
- Bore & stroke – 54 x 54mm
- Compression Ratio – 7.0:1
- Carburetion – 2 x Mikuni VM29
- Max Power – 35bhp @ 9000rpm
- Torque – 20ft-lbs @ 8000rpm
- Ignition – Kokusan magneto
- Transmission – 6-Speed, wet clutch, chain final drive
- Frame – steel twin loop
- Suspension – 34mm telescopic fork twin shock rear
- Wheels – 2.75 x 18 2.75 x 18
- Brakes – 200mm twin-sided single-leading-shoe, 180mm single leading shoe
- Wheelbase – 1230mm
- Weight – 112kgs
- Fuel capacity – 16ltrs
- Top speed – 130mph
Suzuki TR250 Gallery