2019 Suzuki RM-Z 250
The Fun And Friendly Machine
- Classic Suzuki turning is still present in the new bike.
- Styling is one of the best.
- Slim, narrow feeling chassis.
- Coil-spring fork is back for 2019.
- Three fuel coupler options instead of a button.
- Lacks power against its competition.
- Suspension is difficult to setup with stock settings.
- Suzuki's 250F motocrosser with an all new starting point in 2019.
The 2019 RM-Z250 is living in a world where in order to stay up front with the other bikes in the class, technique, finesse, and skills are must-haves. Do you scribe to bigger isn’t always better? Where its always been about twisting the grip harder than the next guy. We appreciated watching riders like James Stewart pilot his 125 two-stroke not because of the power his machine produced, but because of the raw skill he put to use while riding it. With modern day 450cc machines pumping out 60+ horsepower and 250cc four-strokes reaching 40, it’s easy to ride without proper technique; simply grab a handful and hold on for dear life. But how much do you really need and is the RM-Z a canidate for you?
- All new bike for 2019 resembling the RM-Z 450.
- New frame, motor, and suspension components.
- Updated styling.
For 2019, the Suzuki RM-Z250 received a much-needed overhaul. After years of “bold-new-graphics”, the small-bore 250 gets the updated body style found on it’s 450cc brother. The new frame, swingarm, and plastics are eye-catching at first glance, while a new cylinder head and dual fuel injection system are noticeable changes on the inside. In the suspension department, a new KYB rear shock and linkage system accompany an updated coil-spring fork. The 2019 RM-Z is still one of two bikes in its class that still comes standard with a kickstarter and three fuel coupler options.
It’s clear that Suzuki is looking to get back to the front of the pack with a redesigned package for 2019. A redesigned chassis, updated suspension, and revised engine were welcomed updates for the yellow machine and show major strides in the right direction for the brand as a whole. Let’s dive into the on-track experience.
- The RM shines in the mid range.
- The lack in power amplifies the fun factor and reminds us of our 125cc days.
- Confidence inspiring power.
Updates to the engine were well-received by the DBT crew, most notably the improved initial throttle response and mid-range pull. The RM-Z never feels like it has too much power to get away from the rider. This was a reassuring feeling after spending time on our CRF450. The power is snappy and responsive, but requires an all-out riding style if you want to be at the front of the pack. Our common RM-Z riding style found us hanging off the back of the bike, keeping it in the meat of the RPM’s, and using every last horse to hang onto the leaders. If you’re willing to hang it out, you’ll have a blast.
Riders felt in control and never got the feeling of “too much” power or as if the bike would get out from under them. With some slight clutch feathering the engine comes to life down low and revs up into the meat of the power. It never bogs, but it also doesn’t pull your arms off like some of the other bikes in the class. The power range between second, third, and fourth gear are very linear, meaning riders were forced to shift noticeably more on the Suzuki than other 250Fs. This area of mid-range power is fun and playful but seems to fall flat once revved into the higher end of the RPMs.
Mid-range power is what the Suzuki likes best. While it can be ridden hard in these areas, the mid-range of every gear seems to be the most productive. As the engine nears red-line it tends to sign off, revving louder without moving forward. Some riders might have an issue of out-riding the bike on faster tracks.
Gearing is an area we’ve noticed needs improvement. On tracks that have been ripped deeply, the bike needs to be ridden with momentum in mind. Planning lines a few corners in advance was helpful as we looked for any advantage against other riders. The bike also needs to be shifted more than its competitors. Our riders quickly ended up in fourth and fifth gear on multiple occasions, nearly running out of power in some of the faster sections at Cahuilla and Pala. Going down one or two teeth in the rear sprocket would allow the bike to maintain a higher top speed on some of these faster courses.
This being said, novice riders, vet riders, and those transitioning from mini-bikes will surely take a liking to the RM-Z. The power is not intimidating and doesn’t possess the high-revving requirements found in the KTM and Husqvarna 250s. Riders who don’t prefer the “bigger is better” attitude will find enjoyment on the 2019 RM-Z.
- Settings are stiff from the factory.
- Tends to deflect rather than absorb.
The coated fork tubes on the Suzuki give the bike a factory look but we wanted to see if this would translate into a factory feel on the track. In short, it doesn't.
We’ve ridden this bike at nearly every track in SoCal and the stock settings are noticeably stiff all the way around. While running normally-recommended 105mm of sag, the bike feels nose heavy and places more weight on the stiff front forks. This initial part of the stroke is uncomfortably stiff and forces the bike to ride high. It also creates a harsh feeling up top as the forks tend to bounce off smaller braking bumps rather than absorbing them. Riders noticed this to be the worst in small chatter and slower-speed bumps. Those who ride the local vet tracks will feel this as these tracks are usually not “ripped” as deep and develop smaller chatter bumps faster than the main track.
Our riders found this to be the worst on tracks with smaller acceleration and braking bumps; similar to the Perris, Milestone, and Cahuilla vet tracks. These tracks don't get “ripped” the same way the main tracks do and therefore develop much differently. At the same time, they are usually designed for slower speeds, and the riders don’t use lines the ways that an intermediate or pro level rider would. In the end, this means less ruts and more bumps. The RM-Z doesn’t like these choppy bumps, especially at slower speeds. Ultimately this would take some real tuning to get this bike set up for vet-track-only riders. On these tracks we found both the front and rear suspension sitting high in the stroke and tired out our riders over the course of a few laps.
However, once the suspension is put deeper into the stroke it performed much better. At higher speeds or under harsher loads, the front and rear suspension rode in a much more comfortable manner. On the faster main tracks our riders didn’t feel like they were getting “beat up” nearly as much as the tracks with slower, smaller bumps. Our riders found themselves jumping into bumps and compressing the suspension more than normal in order to break through the initial stroke and put it deeper into the function.
Chassis - Handling
- Turns on a dime.
- Slim, narrow feeling chassis.
- Lacks a confidence inspiring feel we're looking for.
Here’s where the zook really excels. What it lacks in power it makes up in the slim ergos and handling. The chassis on the RM-Z is comfortable and rides as good as it looks. Its slim ergonomics give it a narrow feel that can be put anywhere on the track. The bike has a racey feel and sits slim between the knees, perhaps one of the skinniest in the class. The bar-to-peg ratio was also well-received by a variety of our riders ranging from 5’7 to 6’1. A few minor lever adjustments were all that was needed when switching off between riders. Updates to the body styling have created a very comfortable “rider pocket” that keeps the bike in line and aids in the smoother cornering. Along with that, the pocket helps keep the rider’s weight over the center of the bike and reduces the amount of times the rear wheel broke loose under power.
So far the DBT crew has ridden this bike at Glen Helen, Fox Raceway (Pala), Cahuilla Creek, Perris, and Milestone - almost every track SoCal has to offer. One thing is true across the board; this bike loves being one of the first bikes on the track. When there is no real chop or braking bumps, this bike handles it’s best. It cuts up lines on the track like no other and slices its way from inside to outside. Tracks like Milestone and Perris were the most fun on the Suzuki as they are not known for gnarly conditions but rather long ruts, smooth outsides, and big jumps. The RM-Z rode like a doctor's scalpel in these conditions. It inspires confidence and allows the rider to click off a number of nearly identical lap times. We loved gliding our way through the fluffy ruts at Milestone, and were able to really lay it over in some of the deeper ones at Fox and Perris. Simply put, if you’re a “ride til noon and go home” kind of guy, you’ll love the 2019 RM-Z 250.
Once the track breaks down; however, we found some trouble. Stock suspension settings are noticeably stiff in the front and rear which leads the forks tend to bounce off braking bumps rather than absorbing them. It’s a similar story in the rear too. Under load the bike wants to kick, thus forcing the energy back to the front end and therefore starting the cycle over again.
The bike actually handled better on the main tracks where larger and faster braking bumps are present. Charging the hills at Glen Helen and Cahuilla worked better for our riders as we would actually jump into the faces of these bumps to slow down before a corner. The suspension in the front and rear worked better with these harder hits and never seemed as harsh as the little bumps we experienced on the vet tracks.
- Not the most powerful or aggressive bike, but the fun factor is there.
- Suspension is difficult to setup in stock trim.
- Capable bike with only a few mods.
This RM-Z is a blast to ride; in the right conditions. On a smooth track this bike could be number one. However, that’s not often the case. It comes up just short when placed against others in the class when compared in power output and state-of-the-art suspension components. Lacking E-start, push-button traction control just sours the punch but also lightens the price tag. Riders who don’t prefer the “bigger is better” attitude will find enjoyment on the 2019 RM-Z. In stock shape it’s a fun bike that’s great for vet riders and those who are transitioning to big bikes and until you are riding at a top level it provides plenty of performance. The price tag also allows it to be a great base for a race build. What racers save on the initial price can enable them to invest in suspension, exhaust, and other aftermarket add-ons.