Words and photos by Brendan Lutes
Video by Donn Maeda
Ever since Suzuki introduced the newest generation of the RM-Z250, we've been fans. The bike is easily one of the best handling machines in the class and produces excellent power. For what ever reason, though, it hasn't received many changes over the past couple years, but for 2013, Suzuki decided to make some very focused and effective updates to the motor, suspension, and chassis.
Last week, Suzuki invited us out to their private Supercross test track--tamed down of course--for the introduction of the RM-Z450. This week, we returned to the track for the RM-Z250. Being that the track was so tight and confined, we really weren't able to fully put the bike through its paces. We were, however, able to get a good idea about how it performs. But before we get into that, check out what's new on the RM-Z250.
There weren't a ton of changes done to the motor, but each change was designed with a simple goal: more power. For this, this RM-Z got a new lighter piston and piston pin to improve motor performance and reduce weight, which Suzuki claims is three percent lighter than last year. From there, the exhaust system was updated to better meet the increasingly stricter sound regulations. Perhaps the biggest change to the motor, though, was the new gearbox internals, which are said to smooth out shifting, making the bike more reliable and easier to ride.
The chassis on the RM-Z250 received the same changes as the RM-Z450, as the frame and seat rails have been refined for better rigidity and improved handling. The most significant change to the chassis, however, was the addition of the Separate Function Fork. The new fork is larger in diameter than last year--47mm to 48mm--and is the same second generation SFF fork as the one found on the 2013 RM-Z450. Complimenting the new fork is new valving in the rear shock.
OUT ON THE TRACK:
As we mentioned, being that this initial impression was on a tight Supercross-style track, we really weren't able to truly put the bike to the test and see how it performs on a standard outdoor motocross track. With that being said, more testing will come later, but for now here's what we thought of the new bike.
The motor improvements were noticeable. The bike has always had great useable power and this year is no different. The power came on strong right off the bottom and revved out while still producing power. We tested the three different ignition couplers that come with the bike--rich, lean, and standard--and it was easy to see a difference in power delivery. The leaner coupler gave the bike a much harder hit down low and better power all throughout. On the slick SX track, though, it made it more difficult to keep power to the ground. The richer couple mellowed out the power delivery, making the bike much slower, but easier to ride on the slick track. In the end, for the track that we were on, the standard coupler was a nice compromise between raw power and useable power. We also need to mention the new gearbox, which worked very well. Previous RM-Z250 models have been difficult to shift at times, but the new gearbox is silky smooth and we never had any issues with missing a shift.
Handling-wise, the RM-Z was stellar. Every year we rave about how well this bike turns, and so far in our testing, we can say that this year's bike was much the same. The bike turned on a dime and handled chop and jumps remarkably well. We also really liked the new SFF fork. It's stiffer than last year's fork, but in a good way. While stiffer, the forks aren't harsh, and being that they offer much more adjustability, any rider can get them dialed in just right.
WHAT WE THINK:
In spite of the fact that we have only ridden the bike one day on a tight SX-style track, it's pretty easy to see that Suzuki has produced a very solid bike once again. The power is excellent, the new suspension works well, and the handling of the bike is spot on. It's definitely going to be an exciting 250cc Four-Stroke Shootout this year. Don't forget to check out a future issue of TransWorld Motocross for an in-depth review of the bike.