2015 Suzuki RM-Z250: FIRST RIDE

Cycle News Staff | September 1, 2014

Of all of the big players in the 250F class, the Suzuki RM-Z250 is the least changed of the 2015 model year. In fact, it’s not changed at all, except for graphics. Even then, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference if you’re not an RM-Z connoisseur, so we won’t go as far as to say that the RM-Z even gets “bold new graphics.” New maybe but not really bold.

Luckily, the RM-Z250 is already a very good bike. In 2013, it got a fairly extensive makeover and Suzuki is again relying on that makeover to squeeze out at least one more year from the yellow machine before it gets another redo, which we’re assuming it will get in 2016. Remember, the 2014 RM-Z didn’t get much of an update either, but it still held its ground against the other bikes in the class. But will it again? That’s the big question. Since 2013, all of the other 250Fs in its class have taken on some important upgrades, especially the Yamaha YZ250F.

Our first ride on the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z250 felt just like our last ride on the 2014 RM-Z250. There is no difference, but like we said, that’s not a bad thing. The RM-Z already has a lot going for it, like a strong fuel-injected DOHC four-valve motor. It’s already known for its robust bottom end and instant response when you twist the throttle. The bike explodes out of the turns and pulls well into the middle of the powerband where things taper off a bit before coming alive again on top. It has excellent over-rev and is an easy motor to control, though our faster test riders felt that it is almost too easy and want a bit more excitement from the RM-Z’s motor. That’s where the RM-Z’s pre-programed mapping couplers come in handy. Our fast guys preferred the more aggressive (leaner) coupler to the stock coupler in most situations. They preferred they harder hit and improved midrange of the leaner coupler. It just seemed to wake the bike up a bit. Overall though the RM-Z has a good motor that our testers like, though they feel it will have a battle (in terms of outright power) on its hands compared to some of the other 250Fs out there that have been updated over the past couple of years, like the YZ250F and Kawasaki KX250F. But it’s not all about the power. The RM-Z has a smoothing-working and positive-feeling transmission. It takes little persuading of the shift lever to select any of the RM-Z’s five gears while wide open. Clutch pull is also very light and offers excellent feel.

Even though the RM-Z isn’t the lightest (235 pounds claimed) bike in its class, it always feels as though it is. The Suzuki has a narrow profile and feels light and agile between your legs. It’s very responsive to rider input and inspires confidence on rough and fast tracks. We also like the bend of the RM-Z’s Renthal aluminum Fatbar handlebar.

Like its bigger brother, the RM-Z450, the RM-Z250 is a very good turning machine. Inside, outside, it doesn’t matter which line you take with the little RM-Z, it’ll go wherever you point it, even if you point into the ruts, where it always does a good job of holding its line. Suspension is good, too. The RM-Z still uses the Showa-made Separate Function Fork (SFF), which utilizes a tradition spring system (but in only one fork leg); it does not have the new SFF-TAC Air fork found on the new RM-Z450. The 250’s fork is very good but a little harsh right out of the crate. Like last year, we fiddled around with preload, compression and rebound a bit until we found that happy medium. Just like last year, the SFF fork is very sensitive to clicker changes. From our experience, it’s best to make small changes, one at a time, until you are happy. It’s easy to get “lost” when trying to dial in the RM-Z’s SFF fork. Once you do, however, you will be very satisfied with the RM-Z fork. The rear end is very good, too, but when you make changes to the front, don’t forget about the back to maintain a balanced feel with the factory recommended 105mm of sag. Overall, though, the shock is well sprung (but maybe a little on the stiff side), and valved for a wide-range of riders. In other words, there is plenty of room for adjustments.

Just like last year, the RM-Z250 comes stock without number-plate coloring, just all-yellow number plates all around, which at first seems lazy on Suzuki’s part but the reality is that you’ll be customizing your bike with your own backers, graphics and numbers anyway, so no big deal. Dirt Digits dialed in our bike with backers and numbers. Even though the RM-Z hasn’t changed much visually over the years, it’s still a good-looking machine. As we mentioned, nothing has changed with the 2015 RM-Z250, not even the price. It still sells for $7599

Check out of our CN test riders—Jason Abbott and Derek Kelley—in the above video giving the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z250 a workout at Glen Helen Raceway.

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