Hot on the heels of the launch of the awesome 2013 Suzuki RMZ450 (featured in MOTO 85 on sale soon), Suzuki UK followed up with the launch its new RMZ250 earlier this week and MOTO went along to a cold, damp Apex to put the bike through its paces.
Like its big brother 450, the ’13 RMZ250 has eschewed big headline-grabbing developments or re-design in favour of tweaks to further improve what was already a seriously good motorcycle. That doesn’t mean Suzuki has been slacking however. Far from it, the RMZ250 is bristling with huge number of changes that have made a significant difference to the bike’s performance.
First up is a revised chassis, just like on the 450, which features revised frame rails to dial in even more ridigity to sharpen-up the handling further, with specific attention being paid around the head stock area. The subframe has also been tweaked to suit and also to accommodate a revised air boot.
This is teamed with the same generation two Showa separate function SFF forks and a revised Showa shock as the 450 uses, just re-sprung to suit the 250. Suzuki was not impressed with the first SFF fork used by Kawasaki and so redesigned it with Showa. The new fork features a larger 48mm inner tube diameter for improved rigidity and larger damping units internally for improved performance.
Internally the RMZ receives a surprisingly comprehensive overhaul aimed at boosting power the motor’s response and overall power significantly – partly to make up ground lost meeting the stricter FIM new noise regulations.
The RMZ receives a new lighter piston that sheds 3% of its bulk, along with a revised lighter piston pin and con rod. A new intake cam with altered timing and lift is also fitted, as well as a new ECU with 60% faster processing and revised settings to suit the mechanical changes. All these result in a motor with improved response and stronger power and torque, especially in the mid to top end, says Suzuki.
All-new also is the gearbox, often a weak-point of Suzukis. The old box has effectively been canned and replaced by spanking new one with new that features new cogs, shifter cam and drive shaft to offer more precise and clean gear changes. It’s still a five-speed job.
Elsewhere Dunlop’s excellent MX51 tyres are now the rubber of choice and the long standing all-yellow bodywork has gone in favour of black rear fender. It does look cooler to be fair.
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The big question though – is the 2013 RMZ250 a better bike for all these changes?
After a day riding the bike in good old British motocross conditions, MOTO says a big emphatic yes. It’s been a consistently excellent bike for a few years – MOTO’s 250F choice of 2010 and 2011 remember – and now it a good percentage better again, especially in the all-important engine department.
With the launch of the potent new KXF250 last year and the ever-strong KTM SXF being redeveloped twice in recent years the RMZ motor wasn’t the tip-top performer it once was in 2012. For 2013 it is back up there. The response is incredible and the power just that bit stronger all the way through. The mid-range packs noticeably more torque but it is the top tend where the biggest increases can be felt.
The 2012 RMZ signed off pretty early but the ’13 pulls stronger for longer without a doubt, allowing gears to be really stretched out impressively. Both second and third hold on for a surprisingly time and even right on the rev limiter the bike is still pulling and making ground, not just making a load of noise. MOTO also tested out the ‘rich’ coupler to alter the mapping of the motor too –an easy 30-second job – and found that with more fuelling the power was even smoother and tractable right the way through the range. It’ll be a great option for harder tracks or those who prefer to ride in the meat of the mid-range more.
There was nothing to report on the gearbox front, which we guess is the result Suzuki was looking for. Certainly there were no false neutrals or vague feel. The bike was brand-spanking new however, so we’ll hold full judgement on that.
The handling meanwhile was simply incredible. The RMZ has ling been the best handling and turning bike in the 250F class and its going to hold on to its title without a doubt. So stable and planted, yet incredibly faster turning and nimble, the ’13 RMZ is even better than what has come before. Even in the deeply rutted and heavy conditions it was so good.
Playing a role in this is the new SFF Two fork. A definite improvement on the first generation SFF on the KXF250, it is stiffer, more positive and predictable. And the settings are better too. Where the KXF has always been very undersprung, the new RMZ is much closer to the mark. I weigh in at about 75kg kitted up and both front and back was close to the mark for me.
The front held up well under load, settling nicely in corners and whilst the rear didn’t feel amazing – a little ‘dead’ – it stuck to the ground excellently and again wasn’t far from the mark. The response of to adjustment is impressive. Going two clicks softer on the front late in the day when hard chop under the wood chip started to come through proved to make a noticeable improvement in the eliminating front wheel deflection. More testing in drier conditions would be good to get a better judgement, but the initial impressions are positive and suggest that Suzuki was right to hold off introducing SFF until later.
All in all we’re very impressed indeed with the 2013 RMZ250. Stonger, faster and with improved handling, it’s an extremely well strong package that we predict will be serious contender in MOTO’s 2013 shootout.
You won’t have to wait long for the results either – the 2013 shootout will feature in MOTO 86, which will go on-sale in the first week of December.