Bike Review Feature
Having the opportunity to ride any new bike is a privilege we always look forward to here at Fullnoise, and every now and then we get the opportunity to swing a leg over an all-new bike before most in the country.
In special cases, we are lucky enough to be amongst the first in the world to get our hands on an all-new model, which was the case when we were invited to Park 4 MX in Victoria to ride the all-new 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250.
JUST HOW NEW IS THIS BIKE YOU ASK?
The Suzuki RM-Z250's we rode at the 2019 Australian launch was actually pre-production units, (The bike itself is only just about to go into full production!) Australia was lucky enough to receive three bikes, our friends in the U.S did get their hands on the bikes first when they headed directly to Japan to ride the bikes a few weeks before us, but the weather was not on their side, while the Europeans were still waiting to get hold of their media bikes.
So here we were, five Australian media outlets, with three pre-production RM-Z250's, the only three floating around the globe at the time and a perfectly prepared track to spend hours playing around with a brand-new toy.
For an added bonus that you rarely see at a new bike lunch, the crew at Suzuki Australia bought along a fresh 2018 RM-Z250 so we could compare the old and the new back to back, which was a great addition to the day.
For us here at Fullnoise we also had another bonus for this launch, Tim Vare from Eight11 Performance has joined us to lead the way for our motocross bike tests and launches and was on hand for his first media launch, joining myself.
The big gain for us having Tim onboard is his ability as a very fast rider and mechanic to be able to evaluate and make changes to the bike on the fly allowing him to get the very best out of the bikes we ride.
It also now gives us the opportunity to also pass more relevant information on to the faster, Intermediate and Expert / National level privateer riders and provide much greater insight on how a bike works at speed.
While Tim will give his expert run down, I'll still be around to give my thoughts for the Clubman and Vet level rider and for those of us that have less pace but still love to get out on the weekend and pound out lap after lap.
Before we get into Tim's take on the all-new 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250, here is a brief rundown of some of the key features that Suzuki have focused on with their all-new quarter-litre racer.
For a full rundown on all the features and changes for this new model scroll down to the bottom of this article.
It is hard to know where to start with the new features on this bike, it is all new from the ground up, starting with a new engine package, that includes a new cylinder head, an all-new dual fuel injector system aimed at increasing high rpm power in conjunction on a better breathing downward draft air intake design and a new traction management system.
If that was not enough, Suzuki has also updated the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) to assist riders further in getting out of the gates cleanly.
As with recent RM-Z machinery, the RM-Z250 continues to come with two additional couplers to tune the engine to your liking. However, Suzuki Australia was able to reveal to us at the launch that Suzuki will be releasing this bike with a programmable engine tuning wifi app.
Word only came through on this new App, just a couple of days before the launch, and was not on the pre-production bikes we rode, but as soon as we have more information in regards to exactly how it will work and what it involves, we will pass it along.
The bike also now shares the same base design as the RM-Z450, with the plastics for the two bikes now completely interchangeable, giving the brand a bike that looks and feels the same across both the MX1 and MX2 class, with the new frame being matched with new engine mounts in order to give the bike its renowned handling attributes.
Suzuki like most manufacturers have moved away from the air fork and moved to the highly regarded KYB coil spring front fork along with a new KYB rear shock and linkage set up.
Also up front, the bike now comes with a 270mm front brake calliper to increase stopping power, bring the bike in line with what has become the industry standard over the past couple of years.
Again, this bike is entirely new from the ground up, so make sure you head to the bottom of this page for the full list of updates.
Cheyne Boyd’s Park 4 MX was the venue for the day’s riding. As usual, the track was prepared to perfection, with some overnight and morning rain, with overcast skies providing us with the perfect track to get the all-new Suzuki RMZ-250.
With the front half of the track ripped deep, with a combination of open and tight turns, and the back half of the track left more hard pack with plenty of jumps, we really could not have asked for a better track for the day.
I started the day out on the 2018 RM-Z250 that Suzuki had there to compare the differences between the two units. It was a chance to get a good feel for the track and reminder of how the 18-model felt, giving me a great base to really see in what direction Suzuki have gone with this new bike and the improvements they have made.
My first ride on the 2019 model was during our first photo shoot in a sandy turn, and I instantly noticed the difference in the cockpit. From the get go the new bike had a more modern feel with a flatter seat like its big brother opposed to the 18 with a deep seat and low rear end.
Upon burying the 2019 into the sand for the first time, under acceleration I noticed the big difference in the engine, with the gained torque the bike now has, it had a similar hit to the 18 right off the bottom, but there was more substance to the power, rather than the hit and nothing to back it up you got on the older bike.
My first laps I noticed a few points that I needed to be addressed as I jumped on a bike that was straight off another test rider I came in and adjusted bar and lever positions to suit as well as rear brake lever height. I also notice the balance wasn’t correct front to rear making the forks feel hard and harsh initially. So I addressed that with sag it was 50+mm static, so we came up to 43mm and 108mm rider
Back on track I could feel a slight rich burble at less than 5% throttle and also the idle was low, causing extra engine braking, so we raised the idle to a 'normal' rpm and then slightly higher once rolling into the track.
Now I was good to hit the track, within the first few turns I noticed the transformation and my comfort was instantly there. Within my first proper shakedown, I noticed engine had a lean feel and was not at its full potential. I was much happier with the balance and how the fork and shock were working, so I pulled into the Suzuki truck and gave some feedback to the Suzuki tech’s
I explained the lean feeling to the guys from Suzuki, and they mentioned that prior to this test the bikes had come from The Japanese launch and that the riders went leaner, I could understand the direction they were chasing with the low throttle burble. We decided to go to the standard coupler, and I addressed the fluffy area of throttle with a slightly higher idle again, (the idle would be where I would typically run it to help with engine brake and helping with a smoother less jerky engine)
Instantly the engine came to life and within a few laps I again pulled into the truck and asked to go to the rich coupler. I pulled back onto the track with the rich coupler in and noticed more improvements again, the engine became more rideable and pulled stronger and longer. It got back up into the exciting part of the power much faster out of tight turns with the rich coupler; I was really enjoying the engine and the beautiful bark of the RMZ even with the OEM exhaust.
I pulled off of the track to the tech with the std coupler for some back to back to see if we lost in an area with the rich coupler. Within a few laps and trying to put the engine in some different situation I was sold on the rich coupler.
It was time for lunch and to take some notes and think about chassis now I was happy with the engine.
After lunch, we did a photo shoot, and we were swapping bikes between the testers rotating bikes. The difference in feel between bikes from personal setting was insane on how the bikes reacted which helped me get some ideas on suspension and chassis in other situations
I got back onto the track for some more testing, starting with reviewing my sag heights. I raised the rear slightly to 40mm static and 104mm. Feeling more comfortable overall, and happy with the balance, with the forks now being more loaded, and working much smoother and way more comfort through the bars.
I was more than happy with how precise the bike turned now; I had no longer had issues with my wheel wandering in ruts or losing the wheel in turns- front or back.
I enjoyed the rigidity of the chassis, and the fork worked well when the bike was sucked into the deep Park4 soil with no wiggles it stayed planted but was comfortable and drove well on the harder surfaces.
The suspension held up well in most areas even with some over jumps and pushing hard in sections, I did notice the fork had a slightly unsettled feel in an open sweeping turn the forks would go a little deep then pop up, I went in and added some compression into the fork that helped in that area, I also went in (slower) on fork rebound but that hurt it slightly in another high-speed downhill with a sharp bump the fork had a harsh spike, so I went to tackle that with some rebound adjustments but proved to be only a slight improvement, but at the same time it didn’t affect it too much in other areas.
I think for a production based setting the KYB fork and shock especially with that shock adjustment capability is an excellent choice for the Suzuki RMZ-250
Overall the 2019 Suzuki RM-Z250 is a nice nimble package with good rider comfort from handlebar to footpeg height. The Suzuki ergos are always comfortable; the clutch pull is nice with good actuation, and the brakes worked well with a nice feel. About the only thing I could fault on the bike was that the standard seat cover lost some grip by the end of the day.
In summary, I think the new Suzuki is a massive step in the right direction in all areas. It has the foundation to be a good competitive package especially with the new style engine technology intake with bottom mount injector and fuel injection.
With the Wi-Fi ECU mapping looking to be available once the bike goes into full production, it will be a nice addition that will give riders even more adjustment to help set up the bike precisely to their liking. It will be another bonus to an already very good package.
TIMS FINAL SHOCK SETTINGS
(From all the way in)
LOW REBOUND - 10
HI COMPRESSION - 12
LOW COMPRESSION - 12
HIGH REBOUND - 10
STATIC SAG - 40mm
RIDE SAG - 104
FINAL FORK SETTINGS
FORK - 5 mm
REBOUND - 10
First of all, the physical appearance of the 19 RM-Z250 in my eyes is a thing of beauty, Suzuki has always produced great looking race bikes, and there is no doubt style wise they have nailed this bike, which looks identical to its bigger brother.
With the two bikes now sharing the majority of parts, including all plastics, the overall finish to the 250 is immaculate, with each piece of bodywork and plastics seamlessly sliding into each other, making this the best finished Suzuki to date.
Like Tim, before I headed out aboard the all-new Suzuki RM-Z250, I spent some time getting re-acquainted with the 2018 Model, a bike I was personally a big fan of. Actually, I have always been a fan of the RMZ-250 bikes having both a 2012 and 2014 models.
Cutting some laps on the 18, I remembered just how much I enjoyed riding the RM-Z, it has always been a great handling machine, with enough power to keep a C grade level rider happy, though somewhat down compared to the current line-up of 250F motocross bikes on the market.
The one thing I did note riding the 18 again, was the feel of the Air-Fork.
Its funny up until this year the last time I owned a bike with a spring for, was the 2014 RM-Z250 I had, since then I had been on nothing but air, running the a combination of Showa air forks that I was not the biggest fan of, the WP air fork which I did not mind and a small about of riding on the KYB air fork which again I did not mind, but coming back to that same fork after spending all of this year on a KYB spring for, the KYB air fork no longer felt as plush as I remembered it!
After spending a bit of time cutting laps on the 18, I was able to get my hands on the all-new model and hit the perfectly prepared Park4MX track that had formed up just niceley after the mornings riding.
Heading out on track, the bike while feeling a little different to actually sit on, it still had the “Suzuki” feel to it, that lightweight, agile and narrow package that wants to be driven hard into a turn.
While the bike has not always been the lightest on paper, Suzuki knows how to make a bike that feels light between your legs and turns in exactly how you want it to.
In terms of tipping into a turn, it was not head and shoulders better than the 18 model, but that did not come as a surprise as the previous bike already done that better than most, actually probably the best out of all the bikes I have ridden. Where the significant improvement came on this new model was on exiting a turn, but again not so much to do with the updated chassis.
The big difference for myself came from the new engine package and gearing.
The Park4 track has some great corner combinations, probably none better than a section near the end of the track that comprises a deep loamy left-hand turn, followed by a short straight then a quick left hand into the right-hand combination, that always forms up with good inside line ruts.
In the S bend section aboard the 18 model, there was no way of getting through the two turns without a gear change. The 18 would not pull third gear through both corners, and if you changed back down to second entering the first turn, by the time you were halfway to three-quarters of the way out of the second turn the bike was out of legs and you needed third.
Aboard the 19 it was a different story, between the combination of the extra power and the change of gearing on the new bike, making second gear a little taller, I was able to kick back to second gear and drive through both corners, focusing on the turns themselves with the bike having enough pull to hold second gear until the exit of the second turn.
It was possible to run third gear through the two corners running the inside line, though only if I nailed both turns and used a bit of clutch.
For a rider who is south of 100kg, the power on the new RMZ-250 was impressive and certainly a big step up from the older bike. I would not call it class leading, but certainly, a great engine package that produced enough for someone at my level of riding.
Regarding suspension, the move to the KYB spring fork is one of the best things Suzuki have done with this bike. As I said above, I actually did not mind the previous KYB air fork on the Suzuki 250 four-stroke, and in the tighter loamy sections of the track, I would be just as happy with either fork.
Where I did notice the difference was on the faster harder pack sections of the track and also any time I would come up short on a jump.
One the hard-choppy sections of the track, the initial plushness of the KYB spring fork shined through, giving both increased front end feel and a heck of a lot less chatter, helping not only to provide me with increased confidence turning on the hard-flat turns but also reducing arm pump.
The rear of the bike was stable, hooking up nicely everywhere and never once done anything unexpected. The rear wheel hooked up well on every section of the track.
Overall the 2019 Suzuki RMZ-250 is as I was expecting, a great all-around package. It handles precisely how you expect a Suzuki to handle, but with a better suspension package than it previously had and a much punchier, crisper engine.
In fact, while spending some time taking some photos and a little social iPhone filming I sat there listing to just how beefy the 19 Suzuki 250 sounded in stock form.
The production bike will not hit showrooms floors until February, however, apart from the Wi-Fi App, we are not expecting the bike to change between now and then and we are looking forward to doing a little more riding when the production units hit Australian Shores.
2019 RM-Z250 Features, All The Changes and Updates to Suzuki’s Newest Motocross Racer:
Increased Engine Performance
- New cylinder head increases output and throttle response
- New dual fuel injector system increases high rpm power
- Evolved traction management system helps the bike hook up
- Updated Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) gets you out front
Greater Cornering Performance
- New frame and swingarm balances lightness with strength
- Engine placement and mounting aid chassis' nimble handling
- Coil spring KYB fork provides superb performance and easy tuning
- New KYB rear shock and linkage deliver remarkable control
- Race-ready, high-grip Dunlop MX33 tires
Improved Braking Performance
- Larger front brake increases stopping power and feel
- New, compact rear master cylinder is designed to prevent mud from collecting on it and from catching on the rider’s boots
- Aggressive new styling from the championship caliber RM-Z450
- Narrow cockpit lets rider move with ease for maximum racing performance
- Fuel couplers are included for quick and easy EFI tuning
Fitted with a new cylinder head and other improvements for 2019, the fuel-injected, 249cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve, DOHC engine remains proven and reliable.
The engine improvements result in greater power output with improved throttle response through the entire rev range.
The cylinder head features a new intake port shape and finish that fine-tunes the fuel/air charge into the combustion chamber to increase engine output.
A 30 percent larger air cleaner opening is combined with a more direct air cleaner outlet tube path into the throttle body for increased air flow.
The updated fuel injection system has extra-smooth power delivery, high fuel efficiency, superb reliability, and easy tuning capability.
For the first time on a Suzuki MX model, twin fuel injectors are used. The fuel/air mix created by both injectors improves charging efficiency and increases high rpm power.
The primary fuel injector is at the bottom of the throttle body and sprays fuel at the butterfly valve to improve fuel and air atomization. The secondary injector is positioned in the air cleaner inlet duct so the fuel and air have more time to mix and cool before entering the engine.
To feed the new twin-injector system and mix the fuel and air charge to improve throttle response, the new, high-capacity fuel pump has 17 percent more output pressure.
The new throttle body eliminates complex control linkage, so the rider feels a more direct connection to the engine.
The intake camshaft profile is new, with more valve lift, increasing power at all engine speeds.
The cam chain tension adjuster and guide have been redesigned to reduce friction and mechanical loss.
The compact aluminum cylinder is finished with Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) coating for durability, light weight, and efficient heat transfer.
To increase reliability, the machining process at the piston pin holes is changed to reduce stress at the piston crown.
Engine starting remains simple, due to a proven kickstarter and automatic decompression system that works precisely and efficiently (eliminating the need for a heavy and costly electric start system).
The new, high-flow exhaust system has a longer head-pipe, tapered mid-section, and multi-layer silencer that has better flow through the entire rev range, with an emphasis on low-rpm performance.
The new exhaust silencer is a four-layer design that enhances performance and maintains compliance with AMA sound regulations.
New resin engine protectors help guard the coolant pump (on the right) and the stator cover (on the left) from debris and stones.
Suzuki’s proven, easy-to-use fuel couplers are included to simplify EFI tuning.
For quick fuel adjustments to suit riding conditions, two couplers are provided. One is for a richer-than-stock and another for a leaner-than-stock fuel setting. Riders can change fuel settings in seconds by simply connecting either coupler to the wire harness.
The 2019 RM-Z250 features an evolved and faster traction management system. The Electronic Control Module (ECM) continually measures throttle opening, engine speed, and gear position, and then adjusts the ignition timing and fuel injector duration to fine-tune the engine output to deliver the best traction for the riding conditions.
The RM-Z250’s traction management system is different from a street bike traction control system, as it does not measure rear tire spin. Because the needs of a motocrosser are different than a street bike, this system offers constant adjustment that maximizes traction at all times.
v The Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) is a selectable launch system derived from the factory race bike to help riders’ takeoff from the starting gate for an early lead.
To aid riders at the moment of launch, there are three stages of power adjustment from the S-HAC system: 1) the moment of initial launch, 2) when crossing the starting gate, and 3) acceleration up to full-speed.
There are three S-HAC modes riders can choose for the best option per their skill level and starting conditions. The S-HAC settings for both launch modes on the 2019 RM-Z250 are updated to help the rider control engine speed during starts.
A-Mode: For hard surfaces or slippery conditions at the starting gate. In this mode, S-HAC alters ignition timing at the moment of launch and the ride over the gate to reduce wheel slip to deliver a smooth takeoff. It also advances ignition timing during this sequence for stronger acceleration. After six seconds or when you reach fourth gear, the system shuts off and returns to normal ignition timing.
Benefit of A-Mode: For novice riders, and/or hard and slippery traction conditions, use A-Mode for a more controlled launch.
B-Mode: When conditions at the starting gate have better traction, and a more aggressive launch is desired. S-HAC will advance the ignition timing to allow increased throttle response and stronger acceleration off the line. The ignition timing alternation is in a similar sequence as A-Mode, but with increased overall timing. One of three conditions will return the ignition to normal operation (whichever happens first): After six seconds or when you reach fourth gear, the system shuts off and returns to normal ignition timing.
Benefit of B-Mode: For skilled riders, and/or good starting conditions, use B-Mode for a more aggressive launch.
Base Mode: Standard power launch, no action required on the S-HAC switch.
Transmission & Drive Features
The five-speed transmission is updated with a new second gear ratio and overall final ratio to match the engine’s stronger output for better acceleration and top speed.
True to Suzuki transmission standards, the gear shift operation is smooth and precise. Carefully designed parts like the precisely machined shift cam and corresponding gears create a transmission a racer can rely on.
The multi-plate, wet-clutch uses a rack-and-pinion clutch release mechanism for precise feel of the engagement and disengagement points while riding.
The new, lighter-weight chain guide is shaped to accurately route the drive chain smoothly.
The 2019 RM-Z250 features a new frame and swingarm design that continues Suzuki’s reputation for creating the best-handling motocross motorcycles.
The new aluminum alloy, twin-spar frame combines cast and extruded sections to achieve superior front-and-rear weight distribution, while balancing strength and weight.
The new frame is 370 grams (0.8 pounds) lighter but has a 10 percent increase in torsional rigidity.
The position of the engine in the new frame is changed so the crankshaft sits higher in the chassis to further the bike’s nimble handling characteristics.
The design of the rear, upper engine mounts has been updated to a pair of mounts that are outboard of the cylinder head to increase rigidity and allow a direct intake path to the engine.
The engine mount material is changed to aluminum from steel to reduce weight.
The new swingarm is shaped using an innovative hydroforming process that maintains strength but reduces weight by 0.6 pounds (270 grams).
The new hydroforming process enabled engineers to create tapered swingarm beams that increased rigidity, while reducing heavier assembly welding.
New hexagonal aluminum rails are used on the sub-frame for lighter weight, a slimmer appearance, and easier air filter access.
The sub-frame rails are moved inward to slim the bodywork but are also raised to provide additional space for the larger air cleaner.
Not only is the new sub-frame narrow, but all of the body work is slim, so the rider can move freely in the cockpit, especially during spirited riding.
The new, KYB-supplied shock absorber has a thin-wire spring, spring guide, cushion rubber guide, and lower link that weigh less and have better movement reaction. The new spring and link weigh a pound (447.5 grams) less than the prior parts.
This KYB shock has new damping force circuits and a different rear lever ratio to improve the suspension’s traction characteristics.
The damping force adjusters have a wider tuning range, so the settings can better match the conditions and the rider’s style.
A new, high-performance KYB coil spring front fork replaces the PSF2 Pneumatic Spring Fork previously used on the 2018 RM-Z250.
Both fork legs have the same springs and damping force components, so front suspension tuning and maintenance is balanced and easy: a great benefit during frequent riding.
This new fork uses a free-piston design that separates air and oil to optimize the damping characteristics. Other internal changes help control the damping cartridge’s pressure and spring recoil, so the fork action remains supple and precise.
The new Renthal aluminum tapered handlebar has a straighter bend (less pull-back) than prior models to help aid the rider during aggressive maneuvering.
A new, lighter upper fork bracket is used to complement the new front suspension and handlebars.
To improve stopping performance and feel, a new, larger 270mm, wave-style front brake rotor and a Nissin two-piston brake caliper are used.
The brake pad material is also changed to improve performance, plus the new front brake lever is a push rod type that more effectively transmits the squeezing force that the rider applies to the master cylinder.
A new design rear brake master cylinder hugs the frame beam to reduce dirt contamination and the chance of the rider’s boot touching it during riding.
The wheels feature black anodized D.I.D DirtStar rims with a new cross-section design that maintains strength while reducing un-sprung weight.
To match the handling potential of the 2019 RM-Z250, the wheels are fitted with racetrack-developed Dunlop Geomax MX33. Additionally, the rear tire is nearly a half-pound (160 kg) lighter than the tire used on the prior RM-Z250.
Suzuki beak-inspired styling has a sharp front fender and radiator shroud shapes that blend into the frame’s side covers and an upswept tail, to promote the impression of speed while reducing weight and easing service.
The functional styling and the motorcycle’s trim chassis permits a variety of rider positions that facilitate control and comfort.
In addition to the ergonomic improvements from the new bodywork, the rider’s foot pegs are moved 0.12 inches (3.3 mm) forward and 0.2 inches (5.2 mm) upward, while the handlebar grip position is moved 0.3 inches (7.4 mm) forward and 0.15 inches (3.8 mm) downward, to create a high level of rider-control during competition.
The new plastic fuel tank weighs a half-pound less than the prior model’s aluminum tank. Fuel capacity is 1.6 US gallons.
The seat base, inner fenders, and side covers were developed to reduce moisture and dirt from reaching the air cleaner. This helps prevent debris from contaminating the air filter.
The new, slimmer seat has revised foam density to aid the rider’s control of the motorcycle. The seat weighs a half-pound less than the prior model’s and has a large gripper panel that runs nose-to-tail on the cover.
The Suzuki Championship Yellow bodywork is enhanced with distinctive striping and modern logo graphics.
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