Last year Suzuki came up with an unchanged bike that
took us by surprise. It won our 2012 250F shootout by the
narrowest of margins over the powerful KX250F. It won in
2011 as well. Going into 2013, we figured it was curtains
for the Suzuki—a nice run, but all good things must end.
We were surprised when Suzuki announced a long list of
changes for the bike. Could the RM-Z have one more year
up its sleeve?
Nothing about the bike looks that different, but the motor
has new cams, a new piston and a new head. The crank,
crankcase reed and inlet were redesigned. The ignition got
its usual digital changes, and the pipe was reconfigured.
Almost every part in the gearbox is new, the goals being
improved shifting and improved reliability.
The frame, like the motor, doesn’t look very different, but
is subtly redesigned. It has increased rigidity around the
steering head and reduced material thickness in the cradle.
And, the fork is now a Showa SFF unit, similar to that of
STRONG POINTS: The bike still turns better than any 250F
on the track. It might even turn better than any dirt bike made.
One of the reasons that the RM-Z rules in tight, crooked stuff
is because the steering is so light and easy. Another is
because it’s so stable once you’re established in the turn. The
RM-Z holds its course well in rough stuff and lets you get
away with mistakes. If you chop the throttle, it doesn’t mind.
If you’re too far back on the seat, it doesn’t mind. The Suzuki
doesn’t ask for perfection. The suspension might get some of
the credit. Both ends are well balanced and aimed at more
aggressive riding. The Suzuki isn’t as cushy as the Honda or
the Husky, but it can tolerate a much harder pace. Even
though the Kawasaki and Suzuki have similar forks, the
Suzuki got higher marks from all the test riders.
We consider the motor a strong point. The Suzuki is just
as strong in the middle as the Kawasaki, only lacking on
the top and bottom. That’s good company.
WEAK POINTS: The Suzuki is heavy, even though it conceals that fact most of the time. At 229 pounds, it should
really have an electric starter. It could use one, too, since it’s
an inconsistent starter. The clutch has a light pull but fades.
And, despite the all-new gearbox, shifting is still not perfect.
BOTTOM LINE: We’ll give away the results right here: the
Suzuki RM-Z250 is the best 250 of the year once again, if
only by the smallest margin. Its main strength is its handling,
and the motor is just good enough to keep it in the running.
It’s interesting to us that one bike’s cornering could be so
decisively better in a class where all the bikes corner well.
Mark Tilley shamelessly buries Broc Shoemaker’s
YZ with some RM-Z-generated roost.
250F MX SHOOTOUT
The Yamaha YZ250F
weighs 218 pounds and
sells for $7290.
The Suzuki RM-Z weighs
229 pounds and sells