Looks can be deceiving. Take the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 for example; it looks exactly like the 2015 model. Under the yellow and black plastic, however, is an all-new 250F with a redesigned engine, new suspension and revised chassis.
The practically all-new RM-Z250 has a great engine that is easy and fun to ride for all abilities. Suzuki’s changes for 2016 created a freer revving engine with increased durability, but unfortunately didn’t increase overall horsepower noticeably. Off idle it pulls nicely into a strong mid and then continues to pull to the rev limiter. With its significant updates, we’d hoped the Suzuki would be faster than it is. In stock trim the engine is the slowest in the class. We also found the RM-Z250’s Single produces the most vibration, especially at high rpm, where most 250Fs spend a lot of time. For 2016 Suzuki went the route of making sure its bike met strict sound requirements, muffling the exhaust more than other manufacturers, which hurt overall power. Going with an aftermarket exhaust will no doubt wake up power output and increase throttle response.
The 2016 RM-Z250 has a more comfortable feel overall and isn’t as harsh as the 2015, but that’s not to say it’s plush. The RM-Z250 is now equipped with KYB suspension and the PSF2 air fork, the second generation of the original KYB air fork. The suspension change is an improvement in comparison to last year, and the KYB PSF2 fork is much less complex to set up than the Showa TAC air fork that comes on the CRF250R. Test riders struggled to find an ideal setting that provided a plush feel without bottoming. Going up in air pressure helps bottoming but takes away comfort and transmits every bump and imperfection to the rider. Proper sag is critical to maintain the overall balance of the RM-Z. Too little sag and the RM-Z250 gets even more twitchy and nervous.
In general the RM-Z250’s handling is balanced (as long you set proper sag) and predictable. Even though the 2016 bike is quite a bit different, the new frame retains the same geometry from 2015, which means the RM-Z is still amazing in the corners. The front wheel has an abundance of bite and it doesn’t matter the type of turn, the RM-Z250 will carve right on through. The Suzuki goes where you want, when you want, with precision, whether it is in a berm or railing the inside line. The RM-Z shines on tight tracks with a lot of turns and jumps. However, at high speeds the Suzuki still shows signs of twitchiness, especially down hills in braking bumps.
Although updated for 2016, the RM-Z250 arrives as the heaviest bike in this year’s shootout at 235.5 pounds with a full tank of gas. That is only a pound heavier than the CRF250R and KX250F and a few pounds heavier than the 250 SX-F and FC 250. The YZ250F is the lightest 250F with a full tank of fuel at 231 pounds.
We applaud Suzuki’s effort to improve the 2016 RM-Z250 through engine, suspension and chassis changes, which really do improve handling and, ever-so-slightly, increase power. Unfortunately, in a class where horsepower is king and shaving weight is important, the Suzuki RM-Z250 isn’t wearing the 2016 crown. While it is a step in the right direction, being the least powerful engine in the 250F class hurts the RM-Z250 as does the lack of comfort from the air fork and unchanged styling. The all-new 2016 RM-Z250 lands in the fifth position in the MotoUSA 250F Motocross shootout.
• Slight increase in power
• Better overall balance
• Stills corners like a Suzuki (excellent)
• Lacks some hit off bottom
• Picky about starting
• Same styling as 2015
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