First Impression: 2002 RM250

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Let’s face it: last year’s RM250 was pretty much the slowest bike in its class, though many praised its quick handling and light feel. Tired of being laughed at for a lack of gusto, though, Suzuki engineers have been pulling their hair out for the last year trying to figure out a way of coaxing some more ponies out of their premier-class offering.

For 2002, the RM250 received a boatload of engine tweaks, including a revised exhaust port for more mid-to-high power, a new single piece exhaust valve, an improved crankshaft, reduced piston-to-cylinder clearance, and a new exhaust system with a shorter silencer. So did all of the little changes make the RM the obvious horsepower leader of the 250cc class for ’02?

To be completely honest, no. Suzukis will still be the most popular bikes at every aftermarket engine tuner’s shop in the country this year, but in all fairness to the poor engineers, the bike is definitely improved. Low-end power is lacking in comparison to the rest of the bikes in the 250cc class, but the bike does have good mid-range. This is not an explosive, thrilling motor, but instead a smooth, easy-to-ride powerplant. In fact, the ’02 RM250 is such a blast to ride, we almost forgot it was a little down on power!

Handling on the new RM is even better than it was last year, and in an age of stiffening, back-breaking frames, the Suzuki has just enough flex to make it responsive as ever but still rideable when the track gets rough. Cornering is unbelievable as well, and every test rider who took a spin on the ‘Zook raved about the bar-dragging yellow bike.

On a rough track, the ’02 keeps coming back for more, and that’s what we loved about the RM. What we disliked about it was that we found ourselves clutching the crap out of it in nearly every corner on the track. With handling this good, though, and a fleet of aftermarket shops drooling at the chance to make the RM fast, we wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest to pick up Suzuki’s latest 250. Just plan on spending a little money again if you want holeshots!