MXA RETRO TEST: WE RIDE CHRIS GOSSELAAR’S 2005 MOTOWORLD RM-Z250
We get misty-eyed sometimes thinking about past bikes we loved and those that should remain forgotten. We take you on a trip down memory lane with bike tests that got filed away and disregarded in the MXA archives. We reminisce on a piece of moto history that has been resurrected. Here is the test of Chris Gosselaar’s Motoworld RM-Z250 from the May 2005 issue of MXA.
Normally when you have a father and son on the AMA Supercross circuit, it’s a rider/mechanic relationship. As a rule of thumb, the son is the famous rider and the father is the behind-the-scenes mechanic (the LaRoccos, Ellises, Joneses, Shultzes, Jennings’, Reynards and Thomases come to mind). That isn’t the case with Chris and Mike Gosselaar. Chris has raced as a Pro for several years, but Mike is best known for being Steve Lamson’s, Ezra Lusk’s and some guy named Ricky Carmichael’s mechanic.
CHRIS HAS RACED AS A PRO FOR SEVERAL YEARS, BUT MIKE IS BEST KNOWN FOR BEING STEVE LAMSON’S, EZRA LUSK’S AND SOME GUY NAMED RICKY CARMICHAEL’S MECHANIC.
Up until Ricky’s switched to Team Suzuki, Mike Gosselaar had only been a Team Honda mechanic. And, up until this year, Chris Gosselaar had never raced anything but Hondas, starting as an amateur and continuing into the Pros with FMF/Honda and then the Amsoil/Factory Connection team. Then, suddenly, like bowling pins, Mike moved to the Suzuki team with Ricky and Chris Gosselaar moved to Team Motoworld/Suzuki. It wasn’t a cooperative effort, though. Mike could have stayed at Honda. He elected to go with RC. Chris didn’t have as many options. Factory Connection wasn’t going to re-sign him, and Motoworld team manager Paul Lindsey was impressed by Chris’ second-overall performance at the last 125 National of the year at Glen Helen. There was no hidden agenda that put father and son in the Suzuki camp for 2005.
In truth, the Motoworld mechanics claim that Chris doesn’t get any special treatment because of his famous father. Even though Motoworld is an official, factory-supported Suzuki team, they aren’t allowed to use the Suzuki test track, and they don’t get any works parts (and that includes Chris). Mike does stop by the Motoworld semi to offer fatherly advice, but that’s the extent of the father/son duo at the races. The biggest perk of having a dad at Team Suzuki is that Chris gets to visit Florida and ride with Ricky Carmichael on a daily basis.
During his Pro career, Chris Gosselaar has had some highs (holeshotting his first-ever 125 National at Washougal back in ‘98) and some lows (breaking both feet during a Supercross press day in 1999). The MXA wrecking crew has witnessed the peaks and valleys of Chris’ career, so when the Motoworld guys presented us with the opportunity to test the 2005 Suzuki RM-Z250 that Chris Gosselaar is racing this season, we couldn’t pass it up.
This isn’t the first Motoworld bike we’ve tested. A few years ago, we rode Andrew Short’s Motoworld RM125 (he is now Team Honda’s official 125 shoe). We were impressed with it, and more important, Andrew’s setup was spot on. We did lap after lap without making a single modification to Andrew’s bike. The same cannot be said for Chris’ RM-Z250. We didn’t get his bike off the stand before we started making changes. Chris is a little guy. The average MXA test rider stands about 5 inches taller than the Motoworld rider. That spells trouble for the handlebar position. To make matters worse, Chris likes the bars in his lap (is it a bleed over from the RC connection?). So, before we even started his RM-Z250, we spent 15 minutes adjusting the bar mounts on his Tristar triple clamps to the stock position. While we were at it, we also moved the Tag Metal bars up until they ran parallel with the forks.
WE WERE IMPRESSED WITH IT, AND MORE IMPORTANT, ANDREW SHORT’S SETUP WAS SPOT ON. WE DID LAP AFTER LAP WITHOUT MAKING A SINGLE MODIFICATION TO ANDREW’S BIKE.
Once we were ready to go, we were happy to find out that starting the Motoworld RM-Z250 is a one-kick affair. Even later in the day when the engine was hot, all it took was one kick (and the Works Connection hot start lever) to get the RM-Z250 reignited. Why is this so important? Last year Motoworld got a bad rap due to a host of engine failures. The RM-Z250 was totally new last season and it had its fair share of problems (and the race teams were the first to find the flaws). In its second year of production, Suzuki took notice of what was failing and addressed most of the issues.
Motoworld also made a dramatic change in 2005 by switching from PR2 engines to Tom Morgan Racing (TMR) engines. The result is impressive. Tom Morgan knows how to build four-stroke engines. We know, because last season we tested the Honda CRF250 TMR built for the then-unknown Josh Grant. Chris Gosselaar’s RM-Z left us equally impressed. We asked Tom which was easier to work on, the CRF or the RM-Z, and he said they’re about the same, although he did say the RM-Z required fewer expensive parts.
What did Chris’ RM-Z250 run like after TMR finished with it? Like a 250cc four-stroke that does a little bit of everything. It had a ton of bottom end, but it still pulled hard in the middle. Best of all, it actually revved out a little on top. Tom Morgan still thinks it signs off too quickly on top, but for a Supercross bike, we had no problem with the low-to-mid powerband. For the 125 Nationals, Tom will give Motoworld’s bikes even more top end with a different pipe, cam and porting.
Tom achieved the extra power on Chris’ RM-Z250 with porting, crank specs, Webcam cams, aftermarket buckets, Pro Circuit valve springs, a Wiseco piston, Vortex ignition, VP fuel and FMF’s new titanium Megabomb exhaust. To make sure that the power gets to the rear wheel, there is a complete Hinson clutch—which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since almost every race team uses Hinson components. What was surprising were the relatively light Dion Racing clutch springs. They kept the clutch pull easy without letting the clutch slip.
The suspension is handled by Race Tech, but the components are Showa 49mm kit forks and a hard-anodized shock. The suspension surprised us. Even though Chris only weighs 150 pounds, he runs his suspension super stiff, so stiff that we hardly got it to move.
While dad and Ricky have made a successful jump from Honda to Suzuki, Chris Gosselaar has been struggling. Before we tested his bike, we were quick to blame the machine for his woes. After all, he came from one of the best-supported Honda teams on the planet and had ended the 2004 season with the best ride of his life. But, now that we’ve ridden his RM-Z250, we don’t think the power, handling or speed of his new RM-Z250 are to blame. The bike is capable of running up front. And, so is Chris. He just needs to get better starts. We think he should talk to Ricky and his dad. They don’t seem to have any problems in the results department.
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