We welcome our latest project bike, the 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250 and race it in stock form.
STORY CONOR FRASER PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
With little to no news on a solid arrival date for the 2019 Suzuki RMZ 250, this bike had dropped somewhat off buyers’ radars following its launch back in November last year. After 8 years of what were only minor changes for the RMZ250, the 2019 model presents as a brand-new package from the ground up, and is now available in Australia. Can a new generation frame, paired with some impressive KYB suspension, dual injectors and a redesigned cylinder head/intake, thrust this bike from what was considered an out-dated class filler, back into contention as one of the better bikes in the 250F mx category? Lucky enough to get our hands on one of the first production units into the country, we headed to the Goulburn Metzler Amcross for our first impression on the new model.
It’s been around 4 years since I picked up a brand-new bike from a dealership, so to say I was a little excited for the RMZ’s arrival was an understatement. The team at Suzuki arranged an expedited delivery to a local dealership where I picked the bike up just 24 hours before departing for its maiden outing. With a very busy week of magazine deadlines and the organisation of a handful of upcoming events, I decided to race an entirely stock bike, to gain a better understanding of the platform. A quick adjustment of levers, shifter and brake pedal was followed by the hasty installation of a holeshot button that I found in my toolbox the night before the race.
SO, WHAT DID I THINK?
Short of my inconsistency on race day and highly evident lack of fitness, the Suzuki performed surprisingly well and is a great choice of motorcycle for a lot of riders. Compared to the previous model (one of which I own) the engine is incredibly responsive and quick off the bottom; this was especially noticeable on the exit of the tighter turns on the Goulburn track. The bike pulls hard through second gear (an increased ratio for 2019), however seems to sign off a little earlier than its competition at peak RPM. The start straight at Goulburn was reasonably short, which I think benefited the bottom end nature of the Suzuki as in the 2 of 3 races that I didn’t hit the gate…. I managed to round the first corner in the top 5!
The new model has copped a lot of flak in both local and international media about the unusually heavy spring rates that come stock in the new KYB units. Given that my previous 250 has been gracing the back corner of the shed in favour for my 450 (due to the fact I am close to tipping 3 digits on the scales), this bike is actually sprung almost spot on for myself in its stock setting. My largest issue with the stock suspension is finding a front to rear balance that feels natural. The bike has a tendency to stinkbug (rear end sits higher) causing weight to transfer aggressively to the front end on deceleration, resulting in twitchy feedback on corner entry.
I ended up running 116mm of race sag to try and balance the chassis and avoid this, however this had a negative impact on the rough straights where it was difficult to get power to the ground as the shock was sitting so far into its stroke. Balance issues aside, there is no doubt that, the 2019 RM-Z250 holds strong to Suzuki’s heritage boasting an amazing “lean in” feel on corner entry and mid turn.
Stay tuned for our second update!