The MXA wrecking crew is a tight-knit group of riders. We ride every chance we get and race every weekend. Our crew is comprised of riders born in every decade (dating back to the 1940s), and while some are babes in the woods and others long in the tooth, we have a common love of motocross. Cole Seely, one of the newest additions to the MXA testing brigade, falls into the youngster category. Cole has been helping the MXA wrecking crew test bikes and do photo shoots. It was a selfless job for the 19-year-old. He had to meet us at the crack of dawn at a variety of race tracks. These excursions afforded Cole the opportunity to ride a wide assortment of stock, aftermarket and factory bikes. It was a symbiotic relationship. We got the feedback of a skilled rider, and he gained valuable experience.
MXA is loyal to a fault (proven by the fact that so many MXA test riders who rode for us decades ago are still riding for us today). We like to help those who help us. Case in point, when Seely informed us before the Supercross season that he signed with the privateer Fun Center Suzuki team, we were elated. After congratulating him on his new ride, our first question was, “When can we test your Supercross bike?” We wanted to give Cole the attention he deserved and, at the same time, see how an MXA test rider would set up his race bike if he only had to please himself. After all, only a few months before he signed with Fun Center Suzuki, Seely rode everything from a KTM 505SXF to a Yamaha YZ250 for MXA.
Cole Seely handled the job of planting the seed in Fun Center team manager Gregg Lynk’s ear that we wanted to test the race bike. Thankfully, the friendly Lynk obliged.
In a beauty contest, the stock Suzuki RM-Z250 is the Heidi Klum of motocross bikes. An assortment of aftermarket hop-up parts on Seely’s bike manages to make the beautiful look even better.
SHOP TALK: WHAT PARTS WERE USED?
An assortment of different companies offered their services to make Cole Seely’s Fun Center Suzuki RM-Z250 come to fruition. First and foremost, Fun Center Suzuki provided the bikes for the team. Owned by Lyle and Tonya McNight, Fun Center is a high-volume dealership in Durango, Colorado. Aside from selling Suzuki bikes and quads, Fun Center also sells offroad vehicles from Kawasaki, Polaris, KTM and Can-Am. 2009 marks their fourth year racing on the professional level. For the first two years, Fun Center Suzuki raced Arenacross. Last year they set their sights on the 250 West Supercross series, sponsoring Chris and Michael Blose. For this year, they hired Cole, along with Michael LaPaglia and Brady Sheren.
Seely’s RM-Z250 is equipped with a plethora of aftermarket products strategically selected by the team. Whether the focus is on increasing power, decreasing weight or improving strength, all bases are covered. The most exotic item found on the RM-Z250 is the suspension. The 49mm Showa A kit forks came off Ryan Dungey’s 2008 factory bike, and while they are hand-me-downs, the forks are a dream for a privateer like Cole Seely. RG3 revalved and modified the suspension to Seely’s specifications, and RG3 also supplied the Showa A kit-specific triple clamps. Interestingly enough, Seely prefers 20mm offset clamps for more accurate turning, as compared to the stock 21.5mm clamps. Along with the forks came the Showa A kit shock. Outfitted with a bigger bladder and larger, nitrate-coated shock shaft, the shock can handle the rigors of Supercross.
Works Connection parts (clutch perch, frame guards, holeshot device, skid plate, engine plug kit and radiator braces) are used. Attached to Seely’s Excel wheels are Pirelli Scorpion MX works tires. These tires can’t be bought, and every second knob on the outer edge of the 90/100-21 front tire is cut down for better tire flex and grip. Talk about a time-consuming task!
The Fun Center RM-Z250 was light and flickable in the air. The package was made all that much sweeter with the bulletproof Showa A Kit suspension, which allowed test riders to case jumps or overshoot landings and still live to tell about it.
Also unusual on Cole Seely’s bike are the low-bend Sunline AVone handlebars and grip donuts (one donut on the clutch side and two on the throttle side). Why does Cole use this setup? He is not short, but he isn’t tall either. He says lower-bend handlebars are more comfortable, while standard-bend bars feel like ape hangers to him. He also has smaller hands, so much like Mike Alessi (who is the king of grip donuts), he uses the donuts to decrease the length of the grips. As for lever position, Cole runs both of his levers rotated about 20 degrees down from horizontal.
THE BIKE SPORTS A WISECO 13.9:1 HIGH-COMPRESSION PISTON
AND A PRO CIRCUIT TI-4R FULL TITANIUM EXHAUST SYSTEM (WITH A SPECIAL
PRO CIRCUIT MUFFLER). PRO CIRCUIT ALSO PROVIDES THE VALVE SPRINGS,
CLUTCH SPRINGS AND GAS TANK FOIL. THE CYLINDER HEAD IS PORTED BY JIM
WOOD AT SOUTHLAND RACING PRODUCTS.
Which products on Seely’s bike increase strength and longevity? The bike uses a LightSpeed carbon fiber chain guide, RK MXZ4 chain, complete Hinson clutch, rear brake snake, heavy-duty Pirelli tubes, stock RM-Z brake pads, Moose hour meter, stock brake lines and TCR hubs. Of course, performance modifications have been made to the Fun Center Suzuki as well. The bike sports a Wiseco 13.9:1 high-compression piston and a Pro Circuit Ti-4R full titanium exhaust system (with a special Pro Circuit muffler). Pro Circuit also provides the valve springs, clutch springs and gas tank foil. The cylinder head is ported by Jim Wood at Southland Racing Products. Also on the list are a Boyesen Supercooler, Galfer Tsunami rotors, K&N air and oil filters, Vortex ignition system from MT Racing, Torco T-4MXR oil, 1/2mm bored carburetor, CV4 radiator hoses, Web Cams reground stock cam, Millennium Technologies re-plated and re-bored cylinder, Sunline sprockets (with 12/51 gearing) and VP fuel. The list wouldn’t be complete without Factory Effex (graphics), Met-Tek (titanium bolt kit), Sunline (half-waffle grips) and UFO (plastic).
TEST RIDE: YOU BETTER SAY YOUR PRAYERS
SEELY IS A GIFTED RIDER WITH VERY QUICK REACTION TIMES,
BUT AGAINST THE FACTORY SUZUKI, PRO CIRCUIT/KAWASAKI AND GEICO/HONDA
BIKES, HE KNEW THAT HE HAD TO BE NEAR THE FRONT OF THE PACK OFF THE
START IF HE WANTED TO TRANSFER TO THE MAIN EVENT.
Before we even fired up the RM-Z250, Seely was glowing about the engine. He said that the bike was so fast it ranked right up with the factory-backed bikes that he had tested in his MXA garb. Seely is a gifted rider with very quick reaction times, but against the factory Suzuki, Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and Geico/Honda bikes, he knew that he had to be near the front of the pack off the start if he wanted to transfer to the main event. We knew that Seely’s Fun Center Suzuki had some tiger in the tank, but it wasn’t until we rode a lap on the bike that we were truly impressed.
This is a remarkable statement to make, but Suzuki should steal Cole Seely’s RM-Z250 powerplant, copy the engine characteristics, and implement them in the 2010 RM-Z250. The Fun Center Suzuki engine did exactly what the stock RM-Z250 engine doesn’t. It was extremely strong from mid-to-top and wasn’t hindered at all off the bottom. Whereas most Supercross engines are great from low-to-mid, Seely’s bike had the ability to rip right off the bottom and carry clear through to the top end. Although the engine wasn’t blessed with plentiful over-rev, it was free-revving and peaked much higher than the stocker. Simply put, if the stock 2009 Suzuki RM-Z250 had come with Seely’s engine, it would have jumped from “good Novice bike” to “great Pro bike.”
Getting Supercross suspension to work properly requires a tremendously fast or fat rider. However, since it would be a sin to have an overweight rider test the suspension of a rider who’s 40 pounds lighter, we opted for a rider with similar speed and weight to Seely. The results? Through the whoops the suspension quickly absorbed the continuous impact and tracked straight.
Seely’s modified engine proved that a stock RM-Z250 can be turned into a fire breather. The Fun Center Suzuki powerplant is a byproduct of great effort.
The fork and shock worked in unison to clear triples and rhythm sections with relative ease. In the event of overshooting a jump and landing awkwardly, the forks braced effectively and allowed us to regain composure. More importantly, while some pro riders choose to set up their suspension so stiff that it barely moves, Cole’s fork and shock were plush enough to allow the sharp-turning chassis to carve lines through turns.
The 20mm offset triple clamps were conducive to Supercross, but made the front end a little sketchy on any other type of terrain. As for the 12/51 gearing, the addition of three teeth to the rear sprocket helped bridge the gap between second and third gear. Again, this gearing wouldn’t work on a faster track (at MXA we gear our stock RM-Z250 down by one tooth).
VERDICT: WHAT DO WE THINK?
The MXA wrecking crew is happy to work with Cole Seely for several reasons. First, he’s extremely talented on a bike and is a great photo rider. Second, he is a very good test rider. He can diagnose problems on various bikes, and, better yet, he is able to resolve those issues. Third, because we know Cole, we were afforded the opportunity to sling a leg over his Fun Center Suzuki RM-Z250 and experience the sensations of riding a top-notch Supercross bike.