Raising the bar with Suzuki’s 200cc screamers

Putting aside the confusing nomenclature of Suzuki’s model range in the 1960s and 70s, the 90mph X5 200cc two-stroke sports twin and SB200 commuter variant were cracking little bikes that needed to be kept on the boil to get the best out of them, writes Steve Cooper.

Assuming that you’ve been following our Japanese 175-200 series of articles, you’ve probably spotted how Suzuki’s model nomenclature was sometimes so apparently random that it made no sense at all – and here we go again, with another new motorcycle that plagiarised the name of a much older machine.

A lively engine, well-padded seat and conservative styling made the Suzuki SB200 a desirable commuter machine.

Ladies and gentlemen, Suzuki brings you the all-new X5, which is nothing like the original X5, which also had two other names. Oh, and the new machine has at least two model IDs as well.

If you’re confused, try to imagine what it’s like for journalists to dissect this unholy mess. So we’ll have a brief recap: from 1967 until 1969, Suzuki made the T200, which was
also known as the Invader
and/or the X5. Suzuki then ceased making 200cc twins until 1973, when they introduced the GT185, aka the Adventurer, that ran until 1978 when it was renamed the RG185.

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And finally from 1979 until 1981, an all-new machine was sold entitled the X5 GT200. Simple seamless logic obviously… and then of course there was the commuter version of the X5 GT200 which, quite rationally, was named the SB200!

Once again, the new 200 was aimed at those who wanted performance without the size, mass or insurance premium that went with a full 250. Suzuki’s stylists knew how to sell the bike by styling it in a very similar vein to the new and
all-conquering learner-legal X7 that just so happened to be the fastest 250 out there.

Read more in the May issue of OBM – on sale now!

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