With a year under its belt, the all-new Suzuki RM-Z250 now boasts smart phone tuning. We headed to Park4MX to put it through it’s paces.
STORY DANNY HAM PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
Has there ever been a time that a field of motocross bikes have been so evenly stacked? 2020 will potentially see the closest parity in a class that we’ve seen in many years, and in a class that is usually defined by horsepower, is there a manufacturer that stands out above the rest?
Suzuki still believes they have a winning package with it’s 2020 entry into the 250 class. The 2019 model saw a major overhaul of the entire bike with increases to power, changes to the chassis and weight reduction for optimal performance and while we don’t see any significant changes for the 2020 model, the bike still proves to be more than race ready for the task at hand.
A host of changes from 2019 carry over to the latest model that saw huge improvements to engine performance. The Dual-injected engine delivers excellent throttle response and peak power that is delivered to the ground at the most precise moment. The primary fuel injector is at the bottom of the throttle body and sprays fuel at the butterfly valve for outstanding fuel and air atomization. The secondary injector is positioned in the air cleaner inlet duct so the fuel and air have more time to mix and cool before entering the engine. At our test track the ground was well prepped and in doing so extremely heavy, more suited to the power of a 450 than the 250, but the smaller machine rose to the occasion. The usable power presents itself very early in the rev range and doesn’t sign off until the bike is screaming. As I am not the ideal weight to compete in the MX2 class this only made the bike work even harder. I found the bike only required the easiest of massages to the very positive feeling clutch to assist keeping the power in an optimal working range. The bike’s Traction Management System works well on the harder surfaces for those that are determined to try twist the throttle clean off the bars but I found the delivery its more than subtle enough when it needs to be for perfect throttle control. The bike does not feel nor sound restricted as the exhaust delivers a notable bark.
To get you to the first turn Suzuki’s Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) gives the rider three options easily selected straight from the bars. Mode “A” helps you launch off a typically hard surface like concrete or clay when controlling wheel spin is of upmost importance. Mode “B” dedicates a bit more drive to be allocated to the rear wheel and “OFF” of course brings it back to the rider being completely responsible for how brilliant, or not so, their starts are.
The big change for 2020 is the introduction of the new plug and play Suzuki MX-Tuner 2.0. Very much like the Yamaha, the smartphone WIGET app allows rider or mechanic to fine tune engine mapping and fuel delivery straight from their phone. A 36-point grid (compared to the 16 points of the Yamaha app) gives you even more control to enable the most out of you bike with ease. Several pre-installed settings are also included for you to try on race day.
Suzuki retains the race proven KYB 48mm spring front fork and KYB shock which offers a very positive feel on the bike. In standard trim the setup leans towards a harder feel, closer to what I prefer and feel comfortable as a race setup. The forks do handle the harder hits or sudden impacts quite well and the front wheel stays true, however this can also feel harsh if you are on the lighter side, or prefer a more plush setup. I even attempted that softer feel on the day to try it out (I am getting old) but found we were already as soft as we could go. Couple of clicks harder on rebound sat the front wheel on the ground a little more to bring balance to the ride.
The rear shock gives a huge amount of options to dial in the way your bike tracks (high and low speed Compression, high and low speed rebound). When I first jumped on the bike I struggled in the ruts (I only crashed once). Suzuki’s are well known for their ability to turn and first up I wasn’t feeling that. We went back in and found my ride height was at 110mm. This created a push in the front which in turn made it difficult to pick up the ruts. Suzuki’s prefer to sit in the 105-107mm area and was very noticeable change once we set the correct ride height. I played around with some compression and rebound, which had heaps of room to move, to even things out and by the end we had a package I’d be happy with.
The ergonomics are sleek, the bike feels narrow and nimble. Moving around the seat has no restrictions and laying it over through the turns just feels good. The more I ride these days I try to ride feet up (Tomac does it so well, and I’m lazy too), this bike instills confidence and a feeling of control when doing so. All the manufacturers have stepped up their braking game and Suzuki did not miss the boat with this one either.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So, with the bikes being so close, what would make you choose a Suzuki? There are still a few things to consider. Over the last couple of years all the manufacturers have stepped up their game. Huge engine gains have been made by all that has put them on an almost even playing field. Weight reductions see the bikes within a kilogram or so of each other. Ultimately, I feel it would come down to personal preference. In the correct hands all of these bikes are very capable, so the decision might come down to these factors
- Electric start or Kick? Sounds precious, I know, we all know how to kick a bike over right? But when you’re 25min deep in a moto and you stall or crash, how much time and energy do you want to expel trying to get going again? On our test day we were reminded just how painful it can be sometimes to kick start a hot engine.
- Re-Valve suspension? Most racers do re-valve suspension to achieve a more personalised setting. If you intend to do this are you to concerned about its current setting? Suzuki’s suspension is high quality and not bad out of the crate. If you are a lighter rider or more of a social rider though it may feel a little harsh or hard. Again this is a personal opinion of a fat has been.
- Bolt on parts? It’s no surprise that a lot of people, even before they ride a bike, have a long list of parts that will be replaced for aftermarket performance parts. Will this be your intension? If it is then maybe this point and the next are most valid and may solidify your decision.
- Price! The Suzuki is dirt cheap! The next closest price is around $1500 more expensive, and there’s $2600 to the most expensive. This is huge if you were intending to customise the bike the way you want it, the money saved can add quite a lot of parts that might edge it in front of the rest.
There is no denying, all the DNA needed to win are already in the Suzuki, how you work with it will be the deciding factor. I still feel right at home aboard yellow, the bike looks great, it has heaps of power out of the box, arguably turns better than any other brand, stays straight when you want it to and well-priced! So why don’t we see that many on the line come the weekend?
MAT MCENTEE – PRO
I spent some time on an RM-Z fitted with an exhaust and some suspension work, which you can read about next issue. Jumping on the stocker within the first couple of corners I noticed how big of a difference the exhaust makes. Which on one hand, makes you feel good about knowing you’ll get your moneys worth on an exhaust, particularly because the Suzuki is cheaper than many on the market.
After a few more laps I worked out you had to be in the perfect gear every time just to save yourself a couple of seconds if the bike bogged down due to being more restricted. I then had to try to wrap my head around the standard suspension. Danny ham spent a lot of time fine tuning this throughout the day and although we have completely different riding styles we are around the same weight. The KYB suspension has all the components to perfect, I feel stock it is a little hard and harsh for the average rider, but the benefit in being KYB, is your suspension tuner will be able to iron out anything you aren’t comfortable wit nice and easily.
This being the first chance I’ve had to ride the new generation RM-Z250 I feel like they are harshly criticized due to the bigger brother (450). this KYB package suits the Suzuki chassis well and more so than than the suspension in the 450. The 250 is a great package standard and I was genuinely surprised with the amount of power the engine had. With a bit of fine tuning with the suspension, you would most certainly be competitive come race day.