he last time that Suzuki
garnered top honors in
MXA’s “250 Four-Stroke
Shootout” was 2011. They did so
by producing a bike that had a
potent powerband and incredible
handling traits. Suzuki hasn’t
deviated from that plan, but
other manufacturers have since
caught up. The 2014 RM-Z250 is
an excellent bike, but is it the
best? That depends on what
you’re looking for.
The 2014 RM-Z250 is a warmed-over 2013 model. There
are so few changes that a layperson wouldn’t be able to
differentiate the model years. Regardless, the RM-Z250
excels in two vital areas—powerband and handling. It’s
not the fastest bike on the track, but it corners on a
dime and is a great bike for a wide range of riders.
Powerband. Although the RM-Z250 gives up
several horsepower to the KX250F, YZ250F and KTM
250SXF on the dyno, there isn’t an obvious power
difference on the track.
Handling. Deep ruts, loamy berms and inside lines
are no match for the RM-Z250. This bike can make
even the most sheepish rider gain confidence through
Couplers. Use the gray coupler on hardpack and the
white coupler—the one with the wiring coming out the
Suspension. Showa’s SFF forks have cool technology,
and the stock shock settings are ballpark for most riders.
Brakes. Every Japanese manufacturer is behind
the times when it comes to brake performance. The
RM-Z250’s front brake is weak.
Clutch. At the very least, you’ll need stiffer clutch
springs to prevent the pack from slipping.
Durability. The RM-Z250 is great out of the crate
but has teething problems as the hours build. Follow the
recommended service intervals in the owner’s manual or
the RM-Z250 could easily go south.
BEST SUSPENSION SETTINGS?
Forks. These are MXA’s recommended 2014 Suzuki
RM-Z250 fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 0.99 kg/mm
Oil quantity: 340cc in right leg
Compression: 8 clicks out ( 11 clicks out)
Rebound: 12 clicks out ( 9 clicks out)
Preload: 6 clicks out
Fork-leg height: Flush with top clamp
Notes: We found that running the forks flush with
the top triple clamp balanced the suspension and
Shock. These are MXA’s recommended 2014 RM-Z250
shock settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 5. 5 kg/mm
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 1-1/2 turns out ( 2 turns out)
Lo-compression: 12 clicks out ( 14 clicks out)
Rebound: 12 clicks out ( 14 clicks out)
Notes: Don’t discount the shock when it comes to
handling. If the shock is too stiff or the race sag
insufficient, the RM-Z250 can go from a sweet-handling
machine to a yellow ogre. Balance the front and rear
with careful setup.
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking
crew changed on the 2014 RM-Z250.
(1) We installed stiffer Pro Circuit clutch springs.
( 2) We mounted an hour meter to the RM-Z250 and
watched the ride time like a hawk.
( 3) We ditched the stock grips for more comfortable
aftermarket grips. We had to use an aftermarket throttle
tube before installing the grips, as the stock vulcanized
grip was nearly impossible to remove.
( 4) We bolted on a beefy, oversized front brake rotor.
( 5) We ran the white coupler any time the track
wasn’t baked dry.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The 2014 RM-Z250 could have been so much better,
but Suzuki elected to hit the pause button instead of
addressing the bike’s problem areas. Fortunately, the
RM-Z250 was so good last year that it can still hold its
own in a competitive class.
MXA RODE TEST