6th Place Of The 2019 250F MX Shootout: Suzuki RM-Z250
The Suzuki RM-Z250 is all-new this year and was praised by our testing staff for its more powerful engine and agreeable ergonomics. However, the suspension is very stiff, especially for a 250 four-stroke, and the new frame is fairly rigid. Although the RM-Z250 is more competitive in 2019, it finished sixth place in a stacked field of 250Fs.
Before we began the shootout, we mounted a Dunlop D404 street tire on the rear wheel and ran the RM-Z250 on our in-house Dynojet dynamometer, where it produced 36.19 hp at 11,380 rpm and 18.60 pound-feet of torque at 9,030 rpm. The Suzuki ranks fifth in the horsepower department and fourth in torque. We then mounted a fresh set of Dunlop MX33 soft-to-intermediate-terrain tires to ensure consistency in traction among the six competitors through the duration of the test.
The RM-Z250 engine has a linear powerband and doesn’t shine in any one particular area. It has improved top-end over the previous model, but it’s still lacking high-rpm power compared to the competition. It’s not as free-revving as the other bikes either. The leaner white coupler gives the RM-Z a crisper throttle response and was the preferred choice of our test riders. The RM-Z250 has more engine-braking than the other bikes, which is very apparent on descents. The clutch pull is the hardest too. With the updates the RM-Z250 received for 2019, we are a bit disappointed it does not come with electric start, as it’s now one of only two bikes (the Kawasaki KX250 being the other) in the class without a button.
The new KYB AOS (Air-Oil Separate) fork and KYB shock are both very stiff. The RM-Z250 uses a 5.0 N/mm spring in the fork and a 52.0 N/mm spring on the shock, rates that are identical to those used in the RM-Z450. Test riders were able to make improvements by going much softer on compression, in some cases all the way out on the clickers, but even our heaviest test riders weren’t able to find the comfort they were looking for out of the stiff setup. The problem compounded when the track became rougher and hard-packed. Both components hardly moved and rode high in the stroke when confronted with braking bumps and acceleration chop, which made both ends feel harsh. While the suspension could be improved by installing lighter springs in the fork and shock, Suzuki missed the mark on the target weight range for a 250F rider on the stock setup.
The RM-Z250 weighed in at 238 pounds on our automotive scales, which makes it the second-heaviest bike in the class. It’s also the heftiest bike without electric start, which usually adds approximately 5 pounds to the overall weight. The chassis is rigid, which makes the bike a bit unpredictable at times and translates to a lot of rider feedback on braking bumps and other impacts. The stiff suspension settings make the bike feel tall and stand up in the middle of corners. Because of this, the 2019 RM-Z250 doesn’t live up to Suzuki’s reputation of being an excellent cornering machine in stock trim.
Like its big brother, the RM-Z450, the RM-Z250 works best with more shock sag. We found best results with 110mm. This sag setting improves the stance of the bike as well as rear wheel traction. The Suzuki has good ergonomics and a comfortable rider triangle. The midsection is thin, the low position of the Renthal Fatbar is agreeable, and there is a good balance of sitting on the bike versus sitting in it.
Why It Should Have Won
It’s an improvement over the previous-generation model and has comfortable ergonomics. It’s the second most affordable 250F and also one of the best-looking bikes in the class.
Why It Didn’t Win
It has the slowest engine, the stiffest suspension, the most rigid chassis, and no electric start.