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2018 Suzuki RM-Z250 First Ride Review

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Aside from a few cosmetic changes such as blue accents on the seat and radiator shrouds and white number plates, which complement the yellow bike very well, the Suzuki RM-Z250 is unchanged for 2018 and therefore still retains many of the qualities from years past. We took the bike to Glen Helen Raceway on a busy Thursday to get an idea of how the bike performed on a track that offers just about every type of terrain and obstacle you can find on a motocross track.

Engine

The Suzuki RM-Z250 engine has a mellow, smooth power delivery so the bike should be ideal for beginner and novice-level riders in stock trim. The bottom-end and midrange are where the engine shines making it easy to accelerate out of corners. While the midrange is where the meat of the powerband is, the top-end and over-rev leave something to be desired as power falls off slightly in these parts of the powerband. Therefore, short-shifting the yellow machine is the best and most effective way to ride it.

The engine also has a slow-revving character and a noticeable amount of engine-braking. The engine-braking became especially apparent when off throttle and descending the massive, steep hills of Glen Helen. The Suzuki engine is easy to ride in the way it has a mellow overall amount of power, but it can be a bit challenging to ride at its potential because it takes a little extra work and shifting to keep it in the meat of the powerband.

The suspension on the RM-Z250 offers several forms of adjustment in the front and rear. The KYB PSF2 fork has air pressure, compression, and both high- and low-speed rebound clickers while the KYB shock offers high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments as well. The fork has a stiffer, more performance-oriented feel that works best when ridden hard and at more of a race pace. Anything less results in the fork feeling harsh and giving negative feedback to the rider’s hands, especially on slap-down landings. The fork doesn’t feel very progressive and has a rather stiffer feel in the upper part of the stroke. A few clicks softer on the compression alleviates this slightly and makes it more compliant on braking bumps and jump landings alike.

The shock on the other hand settles well in corners and feels significantly plusher and more compliant than the fork. Overall, the suspension works well with the chassis and is more suited to heavier and more aggressive riders alike.

The RM-Z250 chassis was built for cornering. The Suzuki turns like no other and leans into turns very intuitively. It makes any type of corner incredibly easy to execute and is confidence inspiring anytime you have to change directions on the track. The bike feels slightly heavy when taking it off the stand, but that feeling mostly disappears while riding. The chassis has a rather rigid feel overall regardless of whatever suspension changes you make, but the rigidity is part of what helps the bike corner so well.

Like most things, you have to give to get and the Suzuki gives up a bit of straight-line stability to gain such excellent cornering ability. This was especially apparent at Glen Helen as the bike sometimes tended to step out slightly at speed, but there were plenty of tight parts of the track where the Suzuki shined brightly.

The cockpit area on the Suzuki RM-Z250 is both comfortable and agreeable. The bike has a thin feel overall, especially in the radiator shroud area. The clutch pull is noticeably on the stiffer side and has somewhat of an on/off type of engagement. The Renthal Fatbar bend feels neutral and is easy to get used to for riders of average size. Although they offer no mechanical changes and therefore no performance differences on the track, the blue accents Suzuki added to the seat and radiator shrouds make the bike look better than in years past.

Overall, the Suzuki is a good beginner to novice-level bike in stock trim, mostly due to the mellow engine character, but it has plenty of potential with a few modifications. The suspension on the other hand suits a heavier, more aggressive rider while the chassis’ excellent cornering ability is something that riders of all levels can appreciate and benefit from.

  • Excellent cornering ability
  • Good bottom-end and midrange power
  • Comfortable ergonomics
  • Mellow engine requires lots of shifting
  • Fork lacks comfort
  • Unstable feeling at high speeds
2018 Suzuki RM-Z250
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