With the '04 bike as good as it was, Suzuki's goal for '05 was to simply refine the engine/chassis package that was already in place. Don't scoff at the thought of only minor improvements, friends! The '04 RM is a damn fine bike that is an absolute blast to ride, so minor improvements are quite possibly all it needs to keep it in the top spot for '05. If any of you critics are thinking that Ricky Carmichael is going to have an equipment disadvantage when he throws a leg over his factory RM250 at Anaheim 1, think again!
The power output of the RM was outstanding last year, and the few improvements that were made to the motor for '05 have without a doubt made it even better. How much better? Lets put it this way… We brought our modified 2004 out with us to compare the two bikes back-to-back, and the stock 2005 motor is even stronger. Yes, you read that correctly… The stock '05 motor is stronger than our modified ' 04, proving that minor changes really can yield big improvements. What are said "minor changes? A redesigned combustion chamber has improved power controllability; changes to the design of the cylinder ports have improved engine response; revised exhaust valve and sub-exhaust valve timing have improved low to mid rpm hit; and the crankshaft inertia has been increased by 3% for improved wheel traction, just to name a few. The result? An extremely powerful motor that pulls hard, smoothly, and predictably from top to bottom. In stock form, this motor does not lack anywhere. The jetting as delivered was solid, but we found dropping the main jet from the stock 168 to a leaner 165 to be ideal in the conditions that we were testing.
Some chassis changes were also made to the '05 RM, including new titanium footpegs, an updated swingarm design for increased rigidity and straight-line tracking, a new 47mm inverted twin-chamber front fork for improved travel and plushness, new aluminum handlebars, and detail changes to the brake system to reduce weight and improve overall stopping power. Did any of this make a difference? Of course it did. That's why they're called improvements, right?. Suspension action on both ends of the bike is excellent. The RM250 is plush, well-balanced, and instantly inspires great confidence in its pilot. Cornering is also very predictable, and thanks in part to the RM's great tracking ability, riders are able to push harder in and out of corners. In addition, all of our testers commented on how good the ergonomics of the RM felt. It offers an extremely comfortable riding position that promotes a positive feel for riders of all abilities.
Until shootout time, it's impossible to predict how each of the 2005 250cc two-strokes will stack up against each other, but we have no doubt that the RM will be among the front runners. The most complete package in 2004 is back, refined, and better than ever. Right out of the crate this bike is solid and race ready, even at the pro level. Here's betting that RC continues his winning ways in 2005 aboard yellow.
To see more from yesterday's festivities, click the video link at the top of the right-hand column. To view the video, you'll need Quicktime 6.x, which works for both Mac and PC, is availablle as a free download at www.apple.com/quicktime/download.
Video Specs: Running time: 2:48.29/File size: 7.6 MB.