Suzuki’s 250cc four-stroke has always been a force. The RM-Z has a reputation world-wide as a bike that does everything well.
The 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 received a number of changes to both the engine and suspension. By far the biggest change is the swap from Honda-owned Showa to Yamaha-owned KYB and the move from a spring/cartridge Separate Function Fork to the latest KYB PSF2.
Upgrades to the powerplant are aimed at increasing bottom, mid and top-end power. The new piston has received a surface coating while the gudgeon pin features a DLC (Diamond Like Coating).
New intake and exhaust cams deliver a wider range of power while the intake valves have been designed for more compression. In addition to these changes, Suzuki has included a new crankshaft and magneto designed to minimise engine braking.
The engine gets further help with the addition of Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control from the RM-Z450, a launch control function to help riders rocket out of the starting gate.
The KYB PSF2 fork that Suzuki has opted for in the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 works exceptionally on small bumps and hit hits. It’s an improve on the Showa Separate Function fork that works well on the big hits but can feel a bit harsh on the small, chattery bumps. The only thing that Suzuki fans will need to keep an eye on is the air pressures , which can fluctuate with a single-chamber air fork.
The KYB shock worked very well for me, complemented by a stable chassis. I did find however that with the rebound clicker didn’t have quite as much of a workable range. This means that your suspension technician will need to hit their mark if you make any valving changes to the rebound.
Suzuki’s launch control system, S-HAC, is a simple one. You just choose one of three power settings, docile, standard or aggressive to rocket you out of the gate.
I tried all three maps when I ode the machine and weighing in at 85kg the docile map is no good for me, but I tried it anyway. No surprises, it was a bit too smooth and lacking in the horsepower department.
The standard setting worked well for me, but so did the aggressive setting. The standard setting seemed to have slightly more torque than the aggressive one, which revved through a bit quicker. It’s all about trial and error to see what works best for you but the good thing here is that you have choices. And choices are good to have!
All of the changes to the engine work well and it’s vastly improved over last year’s. The bike seems to have sacrificed a small amount of bottom-end power to make up a substantial amount of mid-range and over-rev. It took me a little while to come to terms with the slightly different type of power which meant that with my extra body weight I had to keep it in a lower gear and let it rev.
That is when the engine really came into its own. If I let the power lag too low in the revs then it took a good two or three slips of the clutch to get it going.
2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 TOP FIVE FEATURES
- The package: It is a combination of the chassis, suspension and engine that make it such a fun bike to ride. It might not have the best engine in its class, or the smoothest suspension, and the chassis is certainly on the stiff side. But when you piece it all together you have yourself one nice bike.
- The engine: The 250cc class is a tough one, with plenty of fast and smooth engines in the category, but the RM-Z250 will be right there in the mix come shootout time.
- The frame: On most bikes the frame would be too rigid, but on the RM-Z it has produced a bike that will carve up an inside flat corner but also enjoys destroying a big sandy berm. The stiff chassis is slightly more suited to bigger, stronger riders however even the smaller riders can tailor this bike to their needs.
- Ergos: The ergonomics feel great. The bike feels comfortable to sit on and everything is in the right place. But even if it’s not it can be adjusted to suit your style and body size.
- Starting: The new model seems to start quite easily. One or two kicks and the bike would fire to life nine times out of 10. The kickstarter is positioned nicely so you don’t knock your foot on the footpeg when you kick it over.
FIRST FIVE MODS
- An after-market exhaust would allow the bike to rev through a bit quicker and give a slightly tougher note to the bike.
- In an effort to get a bit more bottom-end power and torque to the bike I would go up two teeth on the rear sprocket straight away.
- I would opt for a 270mm or 280mm front rotor and perhaps a braided line to improve braking performance.
- A gripper seat cover. The standard cover works ok, but as you add more power you’ll need a more grippy seat cover.
- I would change the standard clutch lever perch to an assembly with a nice lever that bends all the way around to avoid you snapping it in a crash, while also providing a big ‘easy adjuster’.
The 2016 Suzuki RM-Z250 has taken some big steps forward in the engine department while perhaps taking a couple of sidesteps in the suspension department. The good news for Suzuki fans though is that there seems to have been no backward steps. This bike will feature well up there in shootouts and keep the die-hard Suzuki fans happy as they leave their local retailer and fuel up for their first ride. Lee Hogan
Photo: Max Peters