Powerplant: The Suzuki overhauled the RM-Z250 engine, but
on the track we left wanting more.
to meet the sound limits of both Pro and amateur racing,
Suzuki’s engineers put a V-shaped strip of perf core into
the muffler. It did a good job of knocking down the
decibels but also killed throttle response and hampered
the power across the range.
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2016 RM-Z250?
A: Disappointing. For clarity, MXA actually rode
this engine in Japan last year while it was under
development. What did we say four months ago? “From
the very first twist of the throttle we were let down by
our high expectations. Forgive us for thinking that a
works Suzuki would be lightning fast. It wasn’t. In fact,
all the AMA National race bikes that we have tested
would blow the RM-Z250WS out of the water. Our feeling
was that the powerband was less aggressive than the
stock 2015 Suzuki RM-Z250 engine.” Given that assessment of the prototype 2016 RM-Z250 engine, we can’t
say that we are surprised that the 2016 engine isn’t
all that it could be. Perhaps Suzuki’s desire to build a
tractable, easy-to-ride, forgiving powerband left them
caught out when KTM went for broke with its high-horsepower, high-rpm engine. Additionally, Suzuki
might have been lulled into complacency by Kawasaki’s,
Yamaha’s and Honda’s willingness to play the game by
the established rules, unaware that KTM isn’t a member
of the good-old-boys social club. KTM went for the jugular with a 14,000 rpm bike that leapfrogged over the
Japanese “Big Four” by 4 or more horsepower.
From this day forward, the rules have changed and the
Suzuki RM-Z engine, albeit brand-new, is a Ford Taurus
up against a Bugatti Veyron. It lacks throttle response,
aggressive hit, adequate over-rev and competitive ponies.
It is, at its best, a Novice engine.
What’s good about the 2016 RM-Z250 powerband?
It picks up nicely off the bottom and has pep into the
midrange. What’s bad about the 2016 RM-Z250 powerband? It is the only bike that we had to downshift to
keep drive going on steep uphills.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ATTRIBUTE OF THE
A: The 2016 RM-Z250 is a very fun bike to ride. It
corners so well that MXA test riders are willing to overlook its engine’s failings just to dive inside of every rider
on the track. It is the slot car of motocross bikes. It can
hit any line in any turn, including spots that other bikes
wouldn’t dare try; however, it should be noted that to
dive inside of another rider going into a turn you have
to catch him first and out-brake him second. Neither of
these are likely scenarios with the Suzuki.
Q: WHAT WOULD WE DO TO IMPROVE THE
2016 SUZUKI RM-Z250?
A: First and foremost, we wouldn’t throw a boatload of money at it. The 2016 RM-Z250 is sitting in a very
deep horsepower hole and not even Mega-Lotto dollars
are going to dig it out. It has a 5-1/2-horsepower deficit
to make up on the 2016 KTM 250SXF, and if you hopped
the RM-Z250 up to close the gap, the KTM owner could
make the same hop-ups to widen the gap again. Instead,
this is a bike that needs a thoughtful approach to
maximize return on investment.
(1) Slip-on. You could order a slip-on muffler from Pro
Circuit, FMF or DR.D and get back the throttle response
that the perf-core restrictor lost. Or, take a long punch
and knock the V-shaped offender out of the way (we
Tricycle: The Suzuki RM-Z250 has the stopping power of a
tricycle compared to the competition.