RACED: 2023 Suzuki RM-Z250 Off-Road Build Stage 1

RM-Z250 Off-Road Conversion Stage 1

Story by Jeff Belknap

We brought our virtually stock 2023 RM-Z250 up to the opening round of the AMA National Grand Prix Championship in Delano, CA. The track scenery is truly amazing, featuring a seven mile flowy grass track through the rolling green hills with tacky dirt and endless turns that all lends itself to the positive traits of a Suzuki. Unfortunately, or fortunately, mother nature brought us plenty of rain prior to race day which resulted in a pure mudfest

Riding this bike in normal off-road conditions, we can see its potential.

The Suzuki isn’t marketed or sold as an off-road racer in stock trim. We knew this going in; however, like most bikes we ride here at DBT, we wanted to get a good feel for the bike in stock trim regardless of where we’re riding it. Rather than just bolting on a lot of bling with no rhyme or reason, we want to feel the need for changes or modifications first and improve the bike through progression.

The Yoshimura RS-12 system is helped wake up the motor on the little RM-Z.
The RM aRMy graphics are a nice touch when purchasing a new Suzuki.

NGPC changed to dead engine starts for 2023, similar to most off-road racing series’. That left us in the minority with only a kickstarter, however within two kicks we were on our way (we will be practicing that for future rounds). Racing off-road is always tricky with bike set up, due to multiple types of terrain and longer 50min motos, it can be challenging. With only the addition of some handguards and our Yoshimura full exhaust system, courtesy of the RM aRMy package deal, our RM-Z250 remained in near stock trim at the first round. We wanted to give feedback for a novice or Vet rider, looking for an economical bike to go racing on. 

Suspension is where the RM-Z250 needs the most attention. The KYB 5.0Nm coil sprung fork has a very stiff / harsh feel to it. We backed off the compression and rebound 4 clicks, which helped the front end ride lower in the stroke quite a bit to get a better balance. The KYB rear shock rear shock is not nearly as stiff as the fork and actually worked quite well for this vet rider. We set the sag at 110mm and left the stock clicker specifications, not feeling a need to change these for the muddy conditions. These small changes helped increase stability of the bike at higher speeds without sacrificing its cornering prowess that we love out of the RM-Z. As a poor mans steering stabilizer, we also tightened the steering stem nut a tad to reduce headshake, though we plan on getting a stabilizer setup in the near future.

The chassis is more on the rigid side, which makes you feel more of the small “chop” bumps. On the upside of the stiffer chassis, it allows the bike to have an exceptional ease of leaning into corners, one of the best in class really. The bike works very well in deep ruts and well balanced in corners, making us vet guys feel like a pro in our advanced age. The stock Dunlop MX33’s hooked up well for our track conditions, offering good grip and bump absorption around the track.

The RM-Z250 motor has good response on low end to midrange, however it does fall off on the top end and over-rev. This isn’t all that bad though, As a vet or novice level rider, revving a bike out really isn’t in the cards for long duration of time, and the easy to ride motor was found to be effective and most of the time we felt ourselves in the meat of the power. Still, we did find ourselves wanting a little more at times. We are on the stock coupler for now, but we will be experimenting further to mess with mapping as we get more time on it and play with the Suzuki MX Tuner.

All in all, we gave it our all and landed the box in 3rd place in the Vet 30+ 250A class. And more importantly, we had FUN. In our short time thus far, we are impressed with the Suzuki and at its price point, we’re looking at enlisting in the army full time. We see plenty of potential for the RM-Z250, so follow along as we build up our race bike.

Do You Like DBT Bringing You Fresh Content? Search and Shop Through the Links Above or Below: