In 2013, the Suzuki RM-Z250 received quite a few changes, with the most significant improvements aimed at the chassis and suspension, as the bike was outfitted with Showa's Separate Function Fork and the frame received numerous enhancements. Throughout the course of our testing the 2013 model, every single test rider raved about not only the handling, but the power of the bike as well. And when the dust settled on the annual TransWorld Motocross 250cc Four-Stroke Shootout, the RM-Z sat on top of the podium.
Fast-forward to 2014, and rather than changing the bike just to change it, Suzuki has introduced a 2014 machine that is largely unchanged aside from bold new graphics, yellow side panels, and new ECM mapping for easier starting and a reduction in kickstart kick back. By and large, this year's RM-Z250 is the same bike as last year, but considering how much we enjoyed spinning laps aboard the 2013 model, the lack of changes aren't really a bad thing.
ON THE TRACK
There's a reason that this bike won our 2013 shootout--it's a very solid package. The engine on the RM-Z250 is easily one of the strongest in the class. It has excellent low-end grunt, great midrange, and it revs further than almost any 250cc four-stroke in the class. One of the major updates to the bike last year was a new gearbox, which was designed to smooth out shifting. And as you would expect, this year's bike again has the same great attribute, as it shifts well under power and exactly when you need to grab another gear without hitting a false neutral.
Complimenting the strong power of the RM-Z is excellent handling. This bike is very light and flickable in the air and is easily one of the best turning 250f machines we've ridden. No matter if it's a deep tight rut or a sweeping loamy berm, the bike doesn't knife or push and remains planted, powering through the corner without any troubles. As to be expected with a bike that turns exceptionally well, however, is the front end can tend to be a little nervous over high-speed chop. Be that as it may, it is nothing that can't be fixed with some focused clicker adjustments to the forks and shock, which is easier than ever thanks to the copious amount of adjustability on the Showa Separate Function Fork. But while we're on the subject of the SFF forks, we need to mention that even though our heavier and faster riders love them for the stiff feel and ease of adjustability; lighter or slower riders might find them too harsh in stock trim.
In spite of the 2014 RM-Z250 being the same bike as last year, you won't see us complaining any time soon. Last year's bike was exceptional; it won our shootout, and was the favorite of almost every test rider on staff. With some all-new machines in the 250 class, though, this year's shootout is definitely going to be interesting.