MXA’S RACE-READY 2006 SUZUKI RM250 TWO-STROKE
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“Don’t write that check for a new four-stroke until you’ve thrown a leg over this 250cc two-stroke. It’s like no other bike on the planet.” In 2006, the MXA wrecking crew wrote this about the Suzuki RM250. The two-stroke was a dying breed, and we didn’t want to see two-strokes go. The popular four-strokes were everything that two-strokes weren’t. The RM250 was snappy, barky, nimble, sharp, light and aggressive. The thumpers had none of those characteristics, which is why we held on tight to our beloved smokers.
You could say that the MXA wrecking crew is a competitive bunch, but we have learned over the years that there is something that trumps winning—fun. Fun is more consistent if you own the right bike. Winning can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions. The combination of two-strokes and winning died with Chad Reed in 2005 at the last round of the Supercross series aboard his YZ250 in Las Vegas. Although two-strokes are, cc to cc, more powerful than thumpers, the AMA rules are biased towards four-strokes. We accept that, but it is unfortunate the Japanese manufacturers threw the baby out with the bath water.
When we came across a 2006 Suzuki RM250, we couldn’t help but want to relive some of the memories with this old dog. We didn’t have a problem with the RM250 in stock trim in 2006, but a lot has changed since then. We found some factory Showa suspension that we got from a source that wanted to stay anonymous. Factory parts are generally unavailable to the public and are usually crushed when the factory has no further use for them. We sent the head and cylinder to Edge Sports, who milled the head and ported the cylinder. An FMF Factory Fatty pipe and Shorty silencer were added for some bolt-on power. The RM250 rotors had a tendency to bend back in their heyday, so we bolted on Braking’s Batfly aluminum wave rotors front and rear.
A few parts on the bike were either worn out, bent or rusted. We replaced the bent bars and ripped grips with Torc 1 product. The clutch perch was swapped for a Works Connection Elite perch. The bent wheels were tossed for Excel rims, and mag-coated stock hubs were laced up by TCR wheels and shoed with Dunlop MX3S tires. The worn-out drivetrain was exchanged for a Sunstar chain and sprockets. The rest of the alterations were cosmetic, such as the custom Factory Effex graphics and seat cover, Boyesen clutch and ignition covers, and fresh Rtech plastic.
We did report back in 2006 that the powerband should be ridden with a sensitive wrist and babied around off-camber corners. This gave us the idea to mount a Steahly 10-ounce flywheel weight in an effort to connect the rear to the ground better, making for a heavier throttle.
ENGINE: In a world of 50-plus-horsepower, 250cc two-strokes that need to be toned down for the average rider, we tend to forget what a decade-old powerplant feels like. In our flashbacks through time, the RM250 powerplant was the bee’s knees at 46 horsepower. On the track, even with engine mods, it couldn’t get out of its own way. The flywheel weight we added was a bad idea. It had to go. It was holding the bike back. It’s funny, because the same power a decade ago was once too fast for our own good. Once we took the flywheel weight off, the spunk of the engine returned. It had a playful midrange hit that drove to the top end. The bottom end was a bit soft, but a flick of the clutch got the power right in the meat of the powerband.
SUSPENSION: We noted that the 2006 RM250 Showa components were very good in stock trim, but we weren’t about to pass up the unobtainable. Our anonymous donor made this build special, but the suspension hadn’t been serviced or used since 2007. The components needed some TLC. We sent the forks and shock to Boykin Custom Suspension for servicing. On the track, the suspension connected to the ground flawlessly without interfering with the rider. The factory Showa components were a huge energy-saver. They were super plush without diving, and stiff on big hits without being harsh. The components exceeded our expectations.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Over the past 10 years Suzuki has maintained its “turn at all costs” mantra. It doesn’t get old being able to turn inside any red, blue, orange, white or green bike on the track. It does, however, make us teary-eyed that our once “250cc Two-Stroke Shootout” winner was kicked to the curb. On the plus side, the RM250’s market value has decreased since its decommission. RM250s are much cheaper on the used market than YZ250s, CR250s and KTM 250SXs. Most parts are still readily available for the RM250, but we did have trouble finding a few things, such as aftermarket footpegs. The best thing about this build, hands down, was its factory suspension—not because of its priceless value, but because of its unsurpassed performance.
Boykin Custom Suspension: (209) 534-4846
Edge Sports: (209) 883-4964
TCR Wheels: www.tcrwheellacing.com
Posey Racing: (209) 296-2533
FMF Racing: www.fmfracing.com
Dunlop Tires: www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com
Torc 1: www.torc1racing.com
Works Connection: www.worksconnection.com
Evans Waterless Coolant: www.evanscoolant.com