Essence of a Motorcycle: Heiwa’s Suzuki ST250 scrambler

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
Kengo Kimura is one of the world’s most versatile bike builders. He can create high-end customs that win ‘Best In Show’ prizes at Mooneyes.

He can also build wild concepts for the likes of BMW. And then he can take a humble commuter bike and make it look like a million dollars.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
This elegant little scrambler is based on Suzuki’s ST250, an anonymous but competent single launched in the mid 90s and sold around the world under several different names—including TU250 and Volty. In the US, the second generation TU250X has been a slow but steady seller for over a decade.

The original bike had vaguely retro styling, but Kimura-san has amped it up to the max here.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
He’s used a 2004 model ST250, and with a set of relatively minor changes (aside from a new fuel tank), turned the humble Suzuki into a lightweight go-anywhere machine.

The vibe is classic English scrambler, stripped to the minimum but with practical touches like hand-rolled fenders. The most obvious custom fabrication is the new fuel tank, which is sleeker than the jelly mold original—and minus the heavy Triumph Bonneville-style seams.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
Kimura has also removed the subframe and built a new one to accommodate a classic tuck-and-roll seat, which is plush enough to merit retaining the stock rear shocks.

The forks are lowered by 50 mm though, to level out the stance. The new rims are 18-inch F&R 6061 aluminum items, now shod with rarely seen Dunlop K950 vintage trail tires.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
To ramp up the scrambler vibe, Kimura has fitted offroad bars, plugged them with Amal-style grips, and stripped away all unnecessary controls. There’s a tiny analog speedo offset to the left, a mirror to the right, a 4.5-inch retro style headlight in front, and that’s it.

With around 20 hp on tap, the ST250 isn’t going to be pulling arms out of sockets. But Kimura has freed up the breathing with a free-flowing intake filter and a high-riding, handmade exhaust system. And given that the ST250 weighs well under 300 pounds dry, that’s enough power for an entertaining if not exhilarating ride.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
For someone like Kimura, this is the work that pays the bills between the big commissions. But it also reveals his uncanny skill in making relatively few mechanical changes that completely transform the vibe of a bike.

A vintage BSA or Matchless scrambler is probably out of the reach of most of us right now, and the maintenance alone would be a separate headache. So a simple, bulletproof Japanese single with a few clever tweaks is a much more appealing proposition.

Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa
There’s no ABS here, or traction control, or unnecessary farkles. It’s just a go-anywhere bike that won’t break down, won’t require huge servicing bills, and should provide hours of unintimidating fun. In short, it’s the essence of basic motorcycling … and a bit of a looker too.

What’s not to like?

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Suzuki TU250 scrambler by Heiwa