MXA’S 90-SECOND TEST: 2014 SUZUKI RM-Z250

June 10, 2014
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The last time that Suzuki garnered top honors in MXA’s “250 Four-Stroke Shootout” was 2011. They did so by producing a bike that had a potent powerband and incredible handling traits. Suzuki hasn’t deviated from that plan, but other manufacturers have caught up. The 2014 RM-Z250 is an excellent bike, but is it the best? That depends on what you’re looking for.

50-WORD ANALYSIS

The 2014 RM-Z250 is a warmed over 2013 model. There are so few changes that a layperson wouldn’t be able to differentiate the model years. Regardless, the RM-Z250 excels in two vital areas—powerband and handling. It’s not the fastest bike on the track, but it corners on a dime and is a great bike for a wide range of riders.

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WHAT’S GOOD?

Powerband. Although the RM-Z250 gives up several horsepower to the KX250F, YZ250F and KTM 250SXF on the dyno, there isn’t an obvious power difference on the track.

Handling. Deep ruts, loamy berms and inside lines are no match for the RM-Z250. This bike can make even the most sheepish rider gain confidence through treacherous corners.

Couplers. Use the gray coupler on hard pack and the white coupler—the one with the wiring coming out the back—everywhere else.

Suspension. Showa’s SFF forks have cool technology and the stock shock settings are ballpark for most riders. As bad as the RM-Z450’s SFF forks are the RM-Z250’s are good.

WHAT’S BAD?

Brakes. Every Japanese manufacturer is behind the times when it comes to brake performance. The RM-Z250 front brake is weak.

Clutch. At the very least you’ll need stiffer clutch springs to prevent the pack from slipping.

Durability. The RM-Z250 is great out of the crate but has teething problems as the hours build. Follow the recommended service intervals in the owner’s manual or else the RM-Z250 could easily go south.

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WHAT DID WE CHANGE?

Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew changed on the 2014 RM-Z250.

(1) We installed stiffer Pro Circuit clutch springs.

(2) We mounted an hour meter to the RM-Z250 and watched the ride time like a hawk.

(3) We ditched the stock grips for more comfortable aftermarket grips. We had to use an aftermarket throttle tube before installing the grips, as the stock vulcanized grip was nearly impossible to remove.

(4) We bolted on a beefy oversize front brake rotor.

(5) We ran the white coupler any time the track wasn’t baked dry.

WHAT DO WE THINK?

The 2014 RM-Z250 could have been so much better, but Suzuki elected to hit the pause button instead of addressing its problem areas. Fortunately the RM-Z250 was so good last year that it can still hold its own against a competitive class.

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