2015 Suzuki RM-Z250 First Ride Review

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Highs
  • Strong mid-range power
  • Athletic, predicable handling
  • Wide range of suspension adjustment
Lows
  • Chassis demands precise suspension set-up on rough terrain
  • Brakes could offer sharper feel

For 2015, Suzuki chooses to stick with its existing RM-Z250 platform in the 250 motocross class.Refreshed two years ago, the $7599 RM-Z continues to excite with its extreme agility and potent mid-range engine power.

Over the years the yellow bike has developed a reputation for its exquisite handling manners. Simply put: This is a great handling dirt bike. The chassis is pinpoint accurate and predicable—maintaining a linear trajectory throughout the arc of a turn—whether it be a tricky inside rut or sweeping berm. However, it does comes at the price of straight-line stability in the fast stuff on rough terrain. Here the chassis can get a little flighty—especially when the suspension isn’t set-up optimally.

(Top) The RM-Z’s engine is simple to light whether hot or cold. We also how easy it is to modify the powerband/fuel map with the ‘white’ and ‘gray’ plastic couplers. (Center) The RM-Z ergonomics are well proportioned and we love how light the bike feels in motion. (Bottom) The RM-Z250 continues to employ a generation two separate function fork by Showa. The right leg houses a coil spring and the left leg the damping cartridge. The fork offers a wide range of adjustment (based on rider weight/speed) but a narrow set-up window.

Achieving proper balance through the position of the suspension is key and helps mitigate headshake. Thankfully, the RM-Z’s Showa-sourced suspension offers a relatively wide range of adjustment. Heavier and/or faster riders will value the RM-Z250’s robust spring rates, which are heavier than other 250-class machines. The fork houses a 1.0 kg/mm spring in the right fork leg and a 5.5 kg/mm coil on the shock.

The RM-Z’s five-speed transmission has a short throw between gears. Although the gearbox feels sticky we like how precise engagement is.

Like last year’s bike we preferred a higher than standard preload setting on the fork, which helps maintain proper attitude in motion. The action of the fork can then be manipulated through the compression and rebound damping clickers on the left fork leg. At the rear we like Suzuki’s recommendation of 105mm sag. Although the RM-Z’s fork can be a little tricky to set-up, once a good baseline setting is achieved you hardly have to move a clicker. We also like its consistent and organic feel, contrary to the air forks employed on other models.

The RM-Z’s disc brakes are capable but could offer more feel and initial braking bite from the levers.

In the stopping department the RM-Z’s twin wave-style disc brake set-up get the job done, but they could stand to have a higher degree of feel and bite at the end of each lever.

The 250’s ergonomics are proportioned well but aligned more toward those that stand around 5’9” tall. The bike is slim through the mid-section, and the seat is easy to slide across during acceleration and corner entry.

RM-Z250 Suspension Settings

Fork

  • Preload: 4 (Turns in)
  • Compression: 8 (Turns out)
  • Rebound: 9

Shock

  • Sag: 105mm
  • Low-Speed Compression: 12
  • High-Speed Compression: 2
  • Rebound: 10

As usual, we love the powerband of the RM-Z’s water-cooled quarter-liter mill. Hot or cold, the engine is simple to fire and rewards with its snappy throttle response. Through the aid of short final drive gearing (13/49), the 250 engine spools up quickly off idle and rewards the rider with a thick spread of mid-range muscle. Although power tapers off a little early at high rpm, simply grab a gear and you’re back in the meat of the power where the engine responds best. The transmission offers a short throw between each of its five gears. Although it’s a little sticky feeling, we love the secure and precise engagement which breeds confidence behind the handlebar.

The RM-Z is one of the best steering bikes made. Though in the rough stuff its suspension demands careful set-up to avoid instability.

The character of the engine can further be tailored via two plastic couplers that are included with the purchase of the bike. Fitting the ‘white’ coupler (with wired loop hanging off the back) allows the engine to operate with a leaner fueling condition. This heightens throttle response and makes the engine pull harder through its rev range. Conversely, the ‘gray’ coupler richens the fuel map. This equates to slightly reduced engine response making the motorcycle friendlier to ride in a less-experienced rider’s hands, or, for use on slippery terrain. It’s also worth using when operating the engine at high rpm for a long duration i.e. off-road desert riding. Overall, we preferred the stock setting as it gives the best balance between the two optional settings.

Though it’s a couple years old now, the RM-Z offers a well-rounded package. It inspires confidence through predicable handling and its punchy and fast-revving engine. Another plus is that its MSRP holds steady at $7399 giving it a slight edge in the class.

2015 Suzuki RM-Z250 Technical Specs

  • Engine: 249cc liquid-cooled four-stroke, Single, DOHC
  • Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 53.6mm
  • Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
  • Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
  • Clutch: Wet multi-plate, cable actuation
  • Transmission: Five-speed
  • Final Drive: Chain; 13/49
  • Front Suspension: Showa 48mm Separate Function Fork; adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment; 12.2 in. travel
  • Rear Suspension: Showa gas charged shock with adjustable spring preload; low-speed and step-less high-speed compression and rebound damping; 12.2 in. travel
  • Front Brake: 240mm disc, double-piston caliper
  • Rear Brake: 240mm disc, single-piston caliper
  • Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar 672-01-bend
  • Tires: Dunlop Geomax MX51 80/100-21, 100/90-19
  • Curb Weight: 235 lbs.
  • Wheelbase: 58.1 in.
  • Length: 85.4 in.
  • Width: 32.7 in.
  • Ground Clearance: 13.6 in.
  • Seat Height: 37.6 in.
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.7 gal.
  • MSRP: $7,599

(motorcycle-usa.com)

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