Ride Review Feature
After spending Part 1 of your 2020 RM-Z250 Ride Review focusing on the ins and outs of the Suzuki MX Tuner 2.0, which gives you great control over the power delivery of Suzuki’s 250F machine, in part two, we take a closer look at the bike its self and how it feels on track.
I have always been a fan of how the Suzuki’s look, the Yellow bikes have always stood out on track and the 2020 edition is no different with the Suzuki yellow once again being highlighted with some light blue tones, giving the bike a classic Suzuki look.
The plastics, all mould well into each other, creating a seamless look front to back and with Suzuki Australia utilising the services of Willmax graphics, the little personal touch of adding my race number before sending the bike down to South Australia to ride was a nice touch.
STARTING HER UP
With the Suzuki RM-Z 250 receiving a massive overhaul in 2019, the 2020 model is untouched for this year, with the only difference being a slight change in the graphics ( Yes Bold New Graphics) but most importantly the option to use the Wifi MX TUNER 2.0.
We actually had a chance to ride the 2019, though the bikes we rode were pre-production units, while for 2020 we have the opportunity to ride the full production bike that you would purchase off the showroom floor.
A couple of the significant changes made to the bike included the new dual fuel injector system, which helped give the Suzuki RM-Z 250 a nice little boost in power mainly in the high rpm range, while also helping to provide a near electric-like feel off the bottom with instantaneous delivery of power to the rear wheel as you opened the throttle.
Add the dual injector system to the updated Electronic Control Module (ECM) which continually measures throttle opening, engine speed, and gear position, and then adjusts the ignition timing and fuel injector duration to fine-tune the engine output to deliver the best traction for the riding conditions, you have a bike that is designed to get the power to the ground in the most efficient way possible for a MX bike.
From the moment you kick start (Yes the Suzuki RM-Z250 does not have a push-button start) the bike and crack the throttle for the first time, you can instantly notice just how responsive the quarter-litre Suzuki is, something that becomes more evident when you are out on track.
The bike itself to sit on sits quite tall; you really feel like you are on top of the new generation Suzuki, while ergonomically everything comes to hand and foot quite nicely, in fact after riding this bike for a few weeks now, apart from a slight adjustment to the brake and clutch lever, everything still remains in the position it arrived in, including bars, shift lever and brake pedal!
ROLLING OUT ON TRACK
Out on the track, it did not take long to figure out just how responsive the 2020 Suzuki RM-Z 250 was, sure there are other 250Fs on the market that produce a little more power, but this bike I am happy to say is surprisingly quick down low, which comes from being super responsive.
The slightest movement of the wrist to open the throttle will have the bike hooking up and propelling forward, certainly not in a way that will rip your arms out of your soaking, but just instant, controllable power that continues to build and with the stock mapping, will continue to pull well into the mid rev range and continues nicely into the higher rev range.
The increased front brake rotor size helps with front end stopping power, helping to set up nicely to tip the RM-Z into any turn.
The Suzuki range of Motocross bikes over the years have always had a reputation of turning and handling corners with ease and precision. I rode, and races both a 2012 and 2014 RM-Z250 and they are still two of my favourite bikes over the years, and I found the 2020 handles the turns just as well as both of those did.
The other significant change for the RM-Z250 in 2019 was a move to KYB componentry front, and rear with the KYB rear shock set up long with KYB front forks, compared to the RM-Z 450 which has Showa components both front and back.
The 2020 still has the KYB front and back, and with the KYB being a fork that I have really enjoyed on other bikes over the years it was something I was really looking forward to about the 2020 RM-Z250.
However, while the back end of the bike feels super compliant, and I have 100% feel, and faith in, the front forks on this bike in stock form are going to need a little tweaking.
I am no lightweight coming in at over 100kg, so I was expecting the front end to be soft; however that is not the case.
The initial part of the stroke on the RM-Z in stock form is super stiff and gives a lot of feedback over hard, choppy surfaces.
Now to be fair the bike I have was pretty much brand new, so had not really bedded in for the first ride, but even now after a few rides in the front end has stiff feel to it, probably the best way I could describe it, is that the top of the stroke feels a lot like some of the early model air forks that came out, in fact it feels a lot like the Single Function Air fork that was on the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z 450.
Don’t get me wrong it is not terrible and is only an issue on faster square-edged bumps, but during this time of the year, there are plenty of those about. Once through any braking bumps, the front end settles nicely into any turn.
We have the bike for the foreseeable future and fine-tuning the front fork will be my first focus, as every other aspect of this bike so far has been completely impressive.
The corners are not the only place the RM-Z 250 feels entirely at home, I have never been a confident jumper, and it usually takes me a little while on a new bike to start hitting some bigger tabletops or even small doubles, but that was not the case with this bike. It does feel completely balanced and very light in the air; I had to laugh a little when I first jumped back on an RM-Z250 for the first time in a while. I forgot how much I had to think about holding the bike with my legs as it actually takes a little effort to squeeze them in tight enough to hold onto this bike as it is so narrow.
Overall the 2020 Suzuki RM-Z is one fantastic bike, The ability to move the power curve to suit your riding style via the MX Tuner App adds another element of control, the power on the bike is very good, but more so the responsiveness of the engine and getting that power to the ground makes this bike one of the easiest bikes you will ever ride, couple that the nimbleness and the lightweight feel both in the air and turns, it is a bike that does everything the way it should.
Sure you still have to kick start it, and most will need to set up the front fork to suit themselves, though that is the case with pretty much every bike on the market, so certainly not a big issue.
It was actually pretty cool to be able to do an initial ride of a new bike on my home track at Gilman in South Australia, it gave us a chance to ride the bike somewhere familiar and concentrate more on what the bike was doing, rather than learning a new track and bike all at the same time and this bike certainly impressed.
The initial plan was to review the Suzuki RM-Z 250 and then send it back to Kessner Motorcycles to head back to Suzuki Australia in Melbourne.
However, after playing with the MX Tuner I had more than a few questions for the team at Suzuki Australia, and they have allowed us to keep the bike long term so we can both play around with the MX Tuner app some more and spend a little time behind the gates in 2020.
It will also give us a chance to test out the updates to the S-HAC, Suzuki’s Holeshot Assist Control, we might just see my first holeshot in 2020!
Increased Engine Performance
- New cylinder head increases output and throttle response
- New dual fuel injector system increases high rpm power
- Evolved traction management system helps the bike hook up
- Updated Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) gets you out front
Greater Cornering Performance
- New frame and swingarm balances lightness with strength
- Engine placement and mounting aid chassis' nimble handling
- Coil spring KYB fork provides superb performance and easy tuning
- New KYB rear shock and linkage deliver remarkable control
- Race-ready, high-grip Dunlop MX33 tires
Improved Braking Performance
- Larger front brake increases stopping power and feel
- New, compact rear master cylinder is designed to prevent mud from collecting on it and from catching on the rider’s boots
- Aggressive new styling from the championship caliber RM-Z450
- Narrow cockpit lets rider move with ease for maximum racing performance
- Fuel couplers are included for quick and easy EFI tuning
Fitted with a new cylinder head and other improvements for 2019, the fuel-injected, 249cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve, DOHC engine remains proven and reliable.
The engine improvements result in greater power output with improved throttle response through the entire rev range.
The cylinder head features a new intake port shape and finish that fine-tunes the fuel/air charge into the combustion chamber to increase engine output.
A 30 percent larger air cleaner opening is combined with a more direct air cleaner outlet tube path into the throttle body for increased air flow.
The updated fuel injection system has extra-smooth power delivery, high fuel efficiency, superb reliability, and easy tuning capability.
For the first time on a Suzuki MX model, twin fuel injectors are used. The fuel/air mix created by both injectors improves charging efficiency and increases high rpm power.
The primary fuel injector is at the bottom of the throttle body and sprays fuel at the butterfly valve to improve 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.
To feed the new twin-injector system and mix the fuel and air charge to improve throttle response, the new, high-capacity fuel pump has 17 percent more output pressure.
The new throttle body eliminates complex control linkage, so the rider feels a more direct connection to the engine.
The intake camshaft profile is new, with more valve lift, increasing power at all engine speeds.
The cam chain tension adjuster and guide have been redesigned to reduce friction and mechanical loss.
The compact aluminum cylinder is finished with Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) coating for durability, light weight, and efficient heat transfer.
To increase reliability, the machining process at the piston pin holes is changed to reduce stress at the piston crown.
Engine starting remains simple, due to a proven kickstarter and automatic decompression system that works precisely and efficiently (eliminating the need for a heavy and costly electric start system).
The new, high-flow exhaust system has a longer head-pipe, tapered mid-section, and multi-layer silencer that has better flow through the entire rev range, with an emphasis on low-rpm performance.
The new exhaust silencer is a four-layer design that enhances performance and maintains compliance with AMA sound regulations.
New resin engine protectors help guard the coolant pump (on the right) and the stator cover (on the left) from debris and stones.
Suzuki’s proven, easy-to-use fuel couplers are included to simplify EFI tuning.
For quick fuel adjustments to suit riding conditions, two couplers are provided. One is for a richer-than-stock and another for a leaner-than-stock fuel setting. Riders can change fuel settings in seconds by simply connecting either coupler to the wire harness.
The 2019 RM-Z250 features an evolved and faster traction management system. The Electronic Control Module (ECM) continually measures throttle opening, engine speed, and gear position, and then adjusts the ignition timing and fuel injector duration to fine-tune the engine output to deliver the best traction for the riding conditions.
The RM-Z250’s traction management system is different from a street bike traction control system, as it does not measure rear tire spin. Because the needs of a motocrosser are different than a street bike, this system offers constant adjustment that maximizes traction at all times. v The Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) is a selectable launch system derived from the factory race bike to help riders’ takeoff from the starting gate for an early lead.
To aid riders at the moment of launch, there are three stages of power adjustment from the S-HAC system: 1) the moment of initial launch, 2) when crossing the starting gate, and 3) acceleration up to full-speed.
There are three S-HAC modes riders can choose for the best option per their skill level and starting conditions. The S-HAC settings for both launch modes on the 2019 RM-Z250 are updated to help the rider control engine speed during starts.
A-Mode: For hard surfaces or slippery conditions at the starting gate. In this mode, S-HAC alters ignition timing at the moment of launch and the ride over the gate to reduce wheel slip to deliver a smooth takeoff. It also advances ignition timing during this sequence for stronger acceleration. After six seconds or when you reach fourth gear, the system shuts off and returns to normal ignition timing.
Benefit of A-Mode: For novice riders, and/or hard and slippery traction conditions, use A-Mode for a more controlled launch.
B-Mode: When conditions at the starting gate have better traction, and a more aggressive launch is desired. S-HAC will advance the ignition timing to allow increased throttle response and stronger acceleration off the line. The ignition timing alternation is in a similar sequence as A-Mode, but with increased overall timing. One of three conditions will return the ignition to normal operation (whichever happens first): After six seconds or when you reach fourth gear, the system shuts off and returns to normal ignition timing.
Benefit of B-Mode: For skilled riders, and/or good starting conditions, use B-Mode for a more aggressive launch.
Base Mode: Standard power launch, no action required on the S-HAC switch.
Transmission & Drive Features
The five-speed transmission is updated with a new second gear ratio and overall final ratio to match the engine’s stronger output for better acceleration and top speed.
True to Suzuki transmission standards, the gear shift operation is smooth and precise. Carefully designed parts like the precisely machined shift cam and corresponding gears create a transmission a racer can rely on.
The multi-plate, wet-clutch uses a rack-and-pinion clutch release mechanism for precise feel of the engagement and disengagement points while riding.
The new, lighter-weight chain guide is shaped to accurately route the drive chain smoothly.
The 2019 RM-Z250 features a new frame and swingarm design that continues Suzuki’s reputation for creating the best-handling motocross motorcycles.
The new aluminum alloy, twin-spar frame combines cast and extruded sections to achieve superior front-and-rear weight distribution, while balancing strength and weight.
The new frame is 370 grams (0.8 pounds) lighter but has a 10 percent increase in torsional rigidity.
The position of the engine in the new frame is changed so the crankshaft sits higher in the chassis to further the bike’s nimble handling characteristics.
The design of the rear, upper engine mounts has been updated to a pair of mounts that are outboard of the cylinder head to increase rigidity and allow a direct intake path to the engine.
The engine mount material is changed to aluminum from steel to reduce weight.
The new swingarm is shaped using an innovative hydroforming process that maintains strength but reduces weight by 0.6 pounds (270 grams).
The new hydroforming process enabled engineers to create tapered swingarm beams that increased rigidity, while reducing heavier assembly welding.
New hexagonal aluminum rails are used on the sub-frame for lighter weight, a slimmer appearance, and easier air filter access.
The sub-frame rails are moved inward to slim the bodywork but are also raised to provide additional space for the larger air cleaner.
Not only is the new sub-frame narrow, but all of the body work is slim, so the rider can move freely in the cockpit, especially during spirited riding.
The new, KYB-supplied shock absorber has a thin-wire spring, spring guide, cushion rubber guide, and lower link that weigh less and have better movement reaction. The new spring and link weigh a pound (447.5 grams) less than the prior parts.
This KYB shock has new damping force circuits and a different rear lever ratio to improve the suspension’s traction characteristics.
The damping force adjusters have a wider tuning range, so the settings can better match the conditions and the rider’s style.
A new, high-performance KYB coil spring front fork replaces the PSF2 Pneumatic Spring Fork previously used on the 2018 RM-Z250.
Both fork legs have the same springs and damping force components, so front suspension tuning and maintenance is balanced and easy: a great benefit during frequent riding.
This new fork uses a free-piston design that separates air and oil to optimize the damping characteristics. Other internal changes help control the damping cartridge’s pressure and spring recoil, so the fork action remains supple and precise.
The new Renthal aluminum tapered handlebar has a straighter bend (less pull-back) than prior models to help aid the rider during aggressive maneuvering.
A new, lighter upper fork bracket is used to complement the new front suspension and handlebars.
To improve stopping performance and feel, a new, larger 270mm, wave-style front brake rotor and a Nissin two-piston brake caliper are used.
The brake pad material is also changed to improve performance, plus the new front brake lever is a push rod type that more effectively transmits the squeezing force that the rider applies to the master cylinder.
A new design rear brake master cylinder hugs the frame beam to reduce dirt contamination and the chance of the rider’s boot touching it during riding.
The wheels feature black anodized D.I.D DirtStar rims with a new cross-section design that maintains strength while reducing un-sprung weight.
To match the handling potential of the 2019 RM-Z250, the wheels are fitted with racetrack-developed Dunlop Geomax MX33. Additionally, the rear tire is nearly a half-pound (160 kg) lighter than the tire used on the prior RM-Z250.
Suzuki beak-inspired styling has a sharp front fender and radiator shroud shapes that blend into the frame’s side covers and an upswept tail, to promote the impression of speed while reducing weight and easing service.
The functional styling and the motorcycle’s trim chassis permits a variety of rider positions that facilitate control and comfort.
In addition to the ergonomic improvements from the new bodywork, the rider’s foot pegs are moved 0.12 inches (3.3 mm) forward and 0.2 inches (5.2 mm) upward, while the handlebar grip position is moved 0.3 inches (7.4 mm) forward and 0.15 inches (3.8 mm) downward, to create a high level of rider-control during competition.
The new plastic fuel tank weighs a half-pound less than the prior model’s aluminum tank. Fuel capacity is 1.6 US gallons.
The seat base, inner fenders, and side covers were developed to reduce moisture and dirt from reaching the air cleaner. This helps prevent debris from contaminating the air filter.
The new, slimmer seat has revised foam density to aid the rider’s control of the motorcycle. The seat weighs a half-pound less than the prior model’s and has a large gripper panel that runs nose-to-tail on the cover.
The Suzuki Championship Yellow bodywork is enhanced with distinctive striping and modern logo graphics.
2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Ride Review Part 2
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