ONE PHOTO & ONE STORY: BRING BACK SUZUKI’S TWO-STROKES

2007 Suzuki RM125By John Basher

The Suzuki RM125 was a venerable racing machine, although long in the tooth by the time Suzuki discontinued production of the RM125 at the end of 2007. It’s never good news hearing about a bike going through the wood chipper, because it means the end of a generation. Manufacturers pour millions of dollars into research and development for a single model. Let that sink in for a minute. Those manufacturers expect a return on their investment, and when they think the well has run dry, they either reinvest funds or move along. Suzuki took the latter route with the RM125. That’s still sad to think about.

I’ve long wondered why manufacturers don’t fire up their production lines and pump out old bikes, then sell them for a nominal price compared to their “race-ready” machines. I’m no bean counter, but those classics would sell like hotcakes. Of course, I know it’s not that easy. For starters, changing a production run and completing tweaking work flow is like throwing a wrench in the elves’ assembly line a week before Christmas. Model runs are scheduled months in advance. Then there’s the problem of diluting the brand. Surely manufacturers are afraid of taking a step back in time and selling old designs. Those machines would directly compete with a brand’s space-age bikes, complete with all of the latest technology. Take a look at Craigslist or eBay. You’ll notice how older bikes–especially two-strokes–are sought after. Imagine the fallout resulting from a “new” old model cannibalizing the new new race model. The motorcycle industry would be flipped on its head.

“SUZUKI’S LATE-MODEL RM125 AND RM250 TWO-STROKES, WHICH WERE QUALITY BIKES, HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF BEING AT THEIR BEST WHEN THE FOUR-STROKE CRAZE WAS IN FULL EFFECT. THOSE MODELS DIED ON THE VINE, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WERE NO LONGER CONSIDERED EFFECTIVE.”

There are several reasons why manufacturers won’t re-release old designs. However, there’s one big advantage in doing so, especially for a brand that’s down on its luck–sales. Take Suzuki, for example. Their late-model RM125 and RM250 two-strokes, which were quality bikes, had the misfortune of being at their best when the four-stroke craze was in full effect. Those models died on the vine, simply because they were no longer considered effective. Pretend for a moment that Suzuki reintroduced their two-stroke motocross bikes to the masses. Let’s say they made minor refinements that needed to be addressed, such as suspension settings. Now, imagine Suzuki selling the RM125 for $4500, and the RM250 for $5500. For the sake of comparison, a 2017 YZ125 retails for $6499, while the YZ250 sticker price is $7399.

Suzuki’s motocross bike sales could use a jolt, and bringing back the RM125 and RM250 could created marked gains in a competitive marketplace. Offering a 125cc two-stroke again would encourage mini cycle transplants to move up to a RM-Z250 four-stroke when the time comes. As for the RM250, it was a great bike a decade ago. Only in 2017 has KTM forged ahead in two-stroke advancement. The RM125 and RM250 wouldn’t be left in the dust, and at several thousand dollars cheaper, they open the door for modifications. That could have a direct effect on aftermarket sales. Think about it!

The 2007 Suzuki RM125 featured above is a sterling example of what can be done to improve an old war horse. We went whole-hog and spent around $5000 on the project build, but that’s overboard for most people. In truth, you could revamp a RM125 for less than $2000. Therein lies the beauty. How cool would it be to buy a brand new RM125 for $4500 out the door, put $2000 into aftermarket mods, and have an awesome bike for the same price as a 2017 Yamaha YZ125? No one said that manufacturers had to maintain the status quo. KTM had made huge gains in market share by thinking outside the box. Suzuki has everything necessary to bring back the RM125 and RM250. Let’s get more people riding motorcycles by selling affordable bikes that are fun to ride and easy to maintain. Then, once they’re hooked, they can drop serious dough in a four-stroke race bike. Sadly, Suzuki just announced their 2017 motocross line-up (click here), and it doesn’t include the RM125 and RM250.    

Pick up the August 2016 issue of MXA to read “10 Steps to Rebuilding a Race-Ready 2007 Suzuki RM125.”

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