2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 First Ride

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Suzuki has decided to take a break in the constant evolution of its motocrossers, opting to issue the newest RM-Z250 basically unchanged for the 2012 model year. While this may seem like a mistake to not even refine the current setup, remember its 2011 machine was one of our favorites in our 250cc Motocross Shootout last year. To our surprise Suzuki decided to have a press introduction for this year’s bike, so we headed out to Pala Raceway for a day of turning laps with some bold new graphics.

The details haven’t changed for 2012 except for a revised breather hose and fuel pump, both of which make no difference in performance. Toss in a red stripe on the seat and graphics with slightly less red than the pervious RM-Z and you have the complete technical presentation of the 2012 model. So without much ado about updates and revisions we got to work turning laps on Pala’s vet track (the main track was under construction for the last round of the AMA Motocross Nationals).

Both the RM-Z250 and RM-Z450 come with three plastic couplers that plug into the wiring harness for either a rich, normal or lean fuel mixture. We spent the first part of our testing time with the normal plug. The RM-Z feels high-strung and likes to

Railing the outside or cutting inside to the apex  either option is equally effective on the the 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250.
The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 works best when ridden aggressively.
The harder you ride the 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 the better it gets.

be ridden in the higher rev ranges. Our pro-level test rider Chris See felt the power output favored intermediate to pro racers.

“The harder I rode the RM-Z250 the better the engine would pull in the mid and top power,” explained See. “The bike didn’t have a strong bottom end pull compared to some of the other brands I’ve ridden lately.”

Keeping the engine singing happily, where the strong mid-range rewarded us with excellent acceleration and plenty of punch to clear any jump we encountered on the vet track. Blasting out of the corners and down the longer straights let us appreciate the abundance of top-end. To me it didn’t feel like the over-rev was as forgiving as some of the latest 250cc machines we’ve ridden.

Once the RPMs drop, the engine struggles to on the low-end and definitely is not a torquer. Lazier riders such as myself would benefit from a going up one or two teeth on the rear sprocket depending on the track to help stay in the meat of the power. This would also help with the gap I found between second and third gear in some of the large bowl corners.

Later in the day we played with the other two fuel injection couplers and found that the lean setting made the throttle response of the bottom crisper, a setting See was very happy with as his motos ran into the 20 minute mark. The rich coupler seemed to mellow out the throttle response and power delivery, not really something you would want in most circumstances, but the coupler would come in handy if an aftermarket exhaust was installed.

In the handling department the Suzuki once again is a bike that rewards aggressive riders. After getting the sag and clickers sorted we found that the RM-Z would go anywhere you wanted to go, granted you have the skill and willpower to

The 2012 RM-Z250 is light and nimble in the air.Even larger rider will find the power of the 2012 RM-Z250 adequate for most track situations.
We both found that the 2012 RM-Z250 fit our 5’10” frmaes well, but we both disliked the handlebar bend.

make it happen. The handling is sharp and requires all of your attention in the corners, but Suzuki can just as easily rail the outside berm as it can slice to the inside rut.

“Last year the Suzuki was one of the best handling bikes for me,” said See, “and it’s no different this year.”

For someone with a little less sharp handling skills the RM-Z250 can be a bit tiring until you get used to it. You just need to learn to commit to a line and aggressively attack. It is almost impossible to over-ride the Suzuki, but easy to under-ride it.

Stock suspension settings are a tad soft, even on the semi-smooth surface of the Pala Raceway vet track. See weighs in at 165 pounds and went two clicks stiffer on the compression clickers on the fork and shock while backing off a quarter turn on the high-speed compression. We both found that 105mm of sag was optimal, which was a chore for the stock spring

The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 is a weapon in the hands of an intermediate- or pro-level rider.
2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 Suspension Settings (From full stiff)
Fork: Compression 10 / Rebound 11
Shock: Compression 12 / Rebound 14 / High speed 2 turns
Sag: 105mm

with my weight. We were able to get it there, but if you are over a deuce it would be best to get your hands on a stiffer spring. I ran See’s settings in the fork, but added another click to the low-speed compression and returned the high-speed to its original position.

The cockpit of the RM-Z250 fit both of our 5’10” frames perfectly. The tank and seat area is not too thick or too thin allowing us to grip and push the bike with our knees. The rough rubbery finish on the seat offers just the right amount of traction. Neither of use were fan of the sweep of the stock Rental Fatbars, we would like to see Suzuki run a more modern and straighter bend.

At the end of the day we found that although the 2012 RM-Z250 received zero updates, it is still a excellent Lites machine and in the hands of an expert could easily be a race winner. For the average Joe, it will force you to become a better rider by rewarding aggressive and tight riding. The RM-Z should be considered by anyone that is serious about finding the quickest way around the motocross track.

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