Primary use: Motocross
Main Mods: Works Connection Air Fork Pump and Works Connection No Loss Air Adaptor
Moment of Glory: Placing third in my first REM race at Glen Helen Raceway
Forgettable Experience: Getting a flat during my warm-up laps at Milestone MX Park
Aftermath: Two DT1 air filters, two oil changes using Maxima Pro Plus 10w-40, one K&N oil filter change, and lots of bike washes
With more than 20 hours in the saddle of the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z250, I’ve developed a strong impression of the yellow machine. The bike has exceptional cornering ability due to its nimble chassis, which allows me to effortlessly rail a rut, smack a berm, or slide through a sweeping turn. However, I’ve consistently struggled with the KYB air fork every time I ride. I’ve played around with different psi settings in the fork, but the bike still has a tough time absorbing small chop, braking bumps, and high-speed sections. As for the engine, yes, it does feel underpowered compared to other bikes in its class. However, this has forced me to be precise with shifting, clutch work, and roll speed to carry as much momentum as possible through the corner and down the next straight.
Now that I’ve closed in on adequate settings for the bike, I figured what better place to put the RM-Z through a race test than at REM at Glen Helen?
As I headed out for open practice, I had no idea what to expect and I was one of the first guys on the track. Unsure of the layout, I rolled around the first lap to learn the track, and I was quickly swallowed up by several pro-class racers. Now covered in roost, I found my confidence plummeting. I was extremely nervous heading back to the truck after that first practice session.
“Is everyone going to be that fast?” I wondered. Stretching my arms while watching the other classes practice, I knew I had to step it up a notch in my next practice if I wanted any chance of having a good first moto. I put the hammer down and rode near race pace during my next class practice and came across the line in first. Now soaring with confidence, I figured if I got a good start, I might be able to take the win.
As my class was called to the gate for moto 1, I rolled up to the start and had no idea what to expect. Sitting on the line with the swept concrete floor beneath me, I clicked the bike into second gear and turned on the bike’s equipped launch control. As the track worker gave the signal, the revs went up, and so did my heart rate. Completely submerged into the unknown, time stood still. The gate dropped and, being conservative with the throttle, I got out clean before grabbing third gear and pinning it down the starting straight. I was pinched off by the rider next to me and came around the first corner in second. As I battled for the lead, I made a mistake in a right-hand turn and fell back to third where I would ultimately finish.
Disappointed that I wasn’t able to run up front with the leaders for the entire first moto, I was sure if I could pull the holeshot in moto 2, I could run away and secure the win. Perhaps a little too anxious for the second moto, when the gate dropped, I grabbed a handful of throttle resulting in a ton of wheelspin and consequently did a huge fishtail off the concrete pad resulting in a dead-last start. However, after putting in a fast first lap, I was able to work my way up to third. The leaders were out of sight by then, so I settled into position and finished the race to take the final step on the podium.