MXA RETRO TEST: WE RIDE RYAN SIPES’ 2005 SUZUKI 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 love to reminisce on a piece of moto history that has been resurrected. Here is the test we did on Ryan Sipes’ 2005 WBR Suzuki RM-Z250. 

If you’re a professional motocross racer, you should be very happy. At no time in the history of our sport have there been more paid rides available. Besides the five big factory teams, there are a ton of B-teams looking for warm bodies. In fact, the top 50 riders on the National circuit have deals that move them out of the ranks of the pure privateers.

WHY SO MANY JOB OPENINGS? SYMBIOSIS. PRO CIRCUIT WANTS TO SHOW OFF ITS ENGINE WORK, AND KAWASAKI WANTS TO SHOWCASE ITS ALL-NEW FOUR-STROKES. 

Back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, paid rides were hard to come by. There were very few support teams. You either had a factory ride or you were staying in the Hotel Dodge. Now, there are more 125 B-team rides than there are 250 rides.

Why so many job openings? Symbiosis. Pro Circuit wants to show off its engine work, and Kawasaki wants to showcase its all-new four-strokes. MotoSport Outlet, MotoWorld and Yamaha of Troy are out there publicizing their mail-order parts businesses.

Perhaps the rarest of the teams are the few that do it for the love of the sport. Teams like Moto XXX and WBR are founded by guys who just love motocross. Yes, they would like to recoup some of the money they have invested by selling products, apparel or kits, but the men behind WBR haven’t been at it long enough for that. Right now, they’re just trying to do the best job they can.

For 2005, Team WBR lost 2004 riders Troy Adams and Ryan Newton, but they kept Richie Owens and gained Ryan Morais and Ryan Sipes. They also switched from Kawasakis to Suzukis—from Pro Circuit engines to Yoshimura engines—and moved to MB1 suspension. We opine that the WBR team is smarter than most of their ilk, because they skipped the 125 East Supercross for one simple reason—it doesn’t get half the publicity that the earlier starting and later finishing 125 West gets. WBR saved its travel money for the AMA 125 Nationals.

THINGS HAVE DEFINITELY IMPROVED FOR THE WBR TEAM SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR. RYAN SIPES’ IMPRESSIVE RIDES AT THE OPENING ROUNDS OF THE SUPERCROSS SERIES HELPED THEM IMMENSELY. 

Things have definitely improved for the WBR team since the start of the year. Ryan Sipes’ impressive rides at the opening rounds of the Supercross series helped them immensely. The team got tons of media exposure, and with that came more help from Suzuki and the rest of its sponsors. Even MXA jumped on the WBR bandwagon with a Ryan Sipes interview in the May issue.

We have to admit that our motives were a little self-serving. We’d heard all kinds of great things about Yoshimura’s engines, and since they don’t sponsor many teams (WBR and Team Suzuki only), the odds of us getting our hands on one of their bikes were slim. We tried to get Broc Hepler’s bike from Suzuki, and, when they hesitated, we enlisted Yoshimura to plead our case for us. Yosh didn’t have any luck with Team Suzuki, either, but they said that they could hook us up with Ryan Sipes’ Yoshimura-powered WBR RM-Z250.

The WBR boys loved the idea, and after playing a little phone tag, we met team manager Tony Sulek at our offices, where Sipes’ machine could get the studio treatment. Then he let us loose on Ryan’s bike.

It didn’t take more than a lap to appreciate the Yoshimura engine and exhaust. Sipes’ bike doesn’t hit hard; instead, it comes on early and runs strong from the bottom to the top (and everywhere in between). This is the kind of engine you can ride forever and not get tired. With the AMA’s crackdown on sound, Yoshimura’s exhausts have gotten a lot quieter than they used to be. Out on the track, Sipes’ bike wasn’t any louder than your standard 250cc four-stroke.

Besides doing the engine, Yoshimura supplied a special transmission for the RM-Z250; however, the gear ratios weren’t any different. 

No race bike would be complete without a Hinson complete clutch (basket, inner hub and pressure plate), and Sipes’ bike is no different. The clutch pull is easy, thanks not only to the Hinson parts but also the Works Connection perch and lever.

The WBR Suzuki team ran BRP triple clamps.

If you want to know who the hottest suspension tuner on the circuit is right now, the answer is MB1. As the former suspension guru for Showa and the main man behind the works suspension found on the factory Hondas for several years, Mike Battista and his MB1 suspension company are in high demand. 

When the MXA gang was through testing Sipes’ RM-Z250, we had a good understanding of how he got those impressive starts and finishes at the first few Supercrosses of the 2005 season (before he got hurt). The WBR team, along with Suzuki, PPG, Hahm Motorsports, Yoshimura, MB1 and Dunlop, has put together a great program. If Sipes, Morais or Owens ride up to the potential of their race bikes, they’ll be elevated to a big-league team. As far as we’re concerned, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

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