At first glance, the 2022 Suzuki RM-Z250 is beautiful. The Suzuki Champion Yellow No. 2 pairs well with blue accents for a unique, eye-catching appearance. As soon as you throw a leg over the RM-Z250, you notice the narrow chassis and slim bodywork.The RM-Z250 has always set the standard for one of the best, if not the best, handling bike in its class. It maintains a high standard for balanced ergonomics and superb cornering performance. Combined with an engine package that delivers strong peak power and snappy throttle response, this bike can make a rider feel like a champ.
We tested the Suzuki at a few iconic motocross tracks in Southern California. We started at Glen Helen Raceway and then took it to Fox Raceway and Cahuilla Creek MX. Each track offers its own dirt conditions, terrain, obstacles, weather, and altitude. We’ll break down where the bike thrives and what riding styles the RM-Z250 complements.Hopping on the 2022 Suzuki RM-Z250, the narrow cockpit immediately feels comfortable. The subframe, chassis, and bodywork are quite slim, allowing the rider to move freely.Ergonomically, the RM-Z250 is balanced—nothing is misplaced or awkward. The seat’s shape helps the rider position for cornering. The Renthal Fatbar delivers a flatter bend with slightly less pull-back than prior models, aiding rider control through aggressive maneuvering. The controls are basic, with a buttery smooth cable-actuated clutch and a holeshot-assist button.One feature missing on the handlebar is the electric start button—this is the last 250cc four-stroke motocross motor that requires a kick. Fortunately, the Suzuki EFI system makes it effortless to kickstart the RM-Z250, so it wasn’t an issue in the pits. One or two kicks, and you’re on your way.The downside to a kickstart-only is apparent in a race when you stall the motor. Electric starting has an inarguable competitive advantage in racing. However, if you’re not racing—or at least not racing seriously—then the electric start is nothing more than a luxury. By going without e-start, the Suzuki RM-Z250 is the least-expensive motorcycle in its class.In combination with balanced ergonomics and a snappy throttle response, the RM-Z250 will get you out of any situation. The engine revs quickly and is punchy through the low to mid rev range. The power delivery will absolutely launch you out of corners.However, the engine package falls short in the high end of the rev range, as it quickly runs out of power when approaching the rev limiter. Although it is a characteristic of all 250s to require shifting gears frequently, the RM-Z250 requires more than usual gear shifting, so a rider will have to adapt.Here in Southern California, it’s common for our local tracks to have step-ups, doubles, rollers, and table tops immediately out of a corner. You have to be in a gear with plenty of pull to huck you over the face of that jump. Particularly with the RM-Z250, you’ll have to click gears much faster as the gears seem to run out quicker.Second gear launches you out of tight corners quickly. Almost immediately, you’ll be shifting up to grab more gears as you exit the corner. Third gear, which is very short, helps provide punchy power in the low- and mid-rpm ranges. You’ll be shifting up to 4th almost immediately on the straights. Again, this depends on your riding style and speed. You could probably lug 3rd gear around the entire vet or amateur motocross track on any modern four-stroke dirt bike these days.All of this is not necessarily negative. Every motocross bike offers unique packages to suit different riding styles. The 2022 RM-Z250 has a meaty low to mid punch, while other manufacturers offer a smoother low-rpm power delivery, with the meat of the power delivered at high rpm. We like the hit on the bottom, combined with the nimble and predictable handling. It’s a fun bike to ride and can make even the slowest riders feel fast.Negotiating through corners on the RM-Z250 just feels natural. You won’t feel like the bike is fighting against you; it will pretty much do whatever you want. The RM-Z250 is easy to control—you can put it wherever you want, and it will follow your lead.If we could define the handling in one word, it would be “playful”. The Suzuki is not afraid to dance a little, yet you will still feel in complete control over fast, choppy technical sections.The cornering performance on this motorcycle is unrivaled. It feels effortless to turn the RM-Z250, so this bike will likely help improve your technique.The slim bodywork and strong, lightweight chassis are floating on KYB suspension. From the factory, the fork is on the stiff side. This creates a rigid front-end feel that delivers more than usual vibrations to the hands and arms. Initially, rider fatigue sets in more quickly. However, the more time you put on the RM-Z250, the lighter on the hands you will get. Despite the rigidity, your confidence gets another boost thanks to the stiff forks saving the day—more on that later.The RM-Z250 shares the same coil-spring fork as the RM-Z450, and it’s not typical for 250s and 450s to share the same fork setup because of the higher speeds and weights of 450 riders compared to 250 pilots. Knowing this going in, we anticipated a stiff ride.The standard fork clicker setting for compression is 11 clicks out, and the rebound setting is 13 clicks out. At those standard factory settings, you can feel every pebble you roll over in the pits. After one lap on our first ride, we turned the clickers all the way out and got back on the track. From there, we slowed the rebound by a few clicks, and those settings worked well. The firm front end gives you a good feel of the ground, but it’s just not exactly plush and comfortable.The stiff forks can act as your guardian angel, so to speak, in some of those “uh-oh” moments. When you come up short on a double or overshoot the landing in the flats, the forks absolutely soak it up, and you’ll continue on your way. The forks won’t bottom out, as they help maintain control and avoid a tuck n’ roll—this admittedly happened on a few occasions during our tests when we thought we were for sure going over the bars. Thankfully the high-sprung KYB forks saved the day! While the forks may be stiff and rigid, rest assured they can take on any circumstance.The KYB shock felt great all around the track. The rear end of the motorcycle feels grounded through the roughest high-speed chop and acceleration bumps—the back end doesn’t dance out of control. We didn’t need to adjust the shock clickers much; we just slowed the rebound a click or two. That suited our riding style, but for outliers, Suzuki says the KYB shock has a wide damping adjustment range, but we didn’t need it.Once we sorted out the damping adjustments, the overall suspension system delivered a balanced performance.Right off the showroom floor, the 2022 RM-Z250 comes with a set of Dunlop Geomax MX33 tires—an 80 in the front and 100 rear. While you can’t go wrong with the ever-popular MX33s, we would probably prefer a wider 110 rear.While the 100 tire is lighter than the 110, the wider footprint of the 110 might serve the rider well when managing the snappy low-end throttle response. The 100 was not a wrong tire selection, but we noticed a loss of traction in the hardpack, sandy corners of the track. Next time we may give the RM-Z250 a shot with a wider rear.When approaching corners, the stopping performance of the 270mm rotor and Nissin caliper does not disappoint. At Glen Helen, there are legendarily fast downhill sections leading into tight 90- or 180-degree turns, so your braking control better be on point, or you’re going over the berm! The braking system on this RM-Z250 delivers precise control and plenty of stopping power.Overall, Suzuki offers a fun, rideable 250 platform with predictable handling characteristics and a punchy engine package. You’ll want to keep the revs in the low- to mid-rpm range for optimal power delivery. This is a rider-friendly motorcycle rather than a National-winning package. The slim chassis and narrow ergonomics make you feel one with the 2022 Suzuki RM-Z250. It handles with ease and can help improve your cornering technique. The snappy throttle response of the motor helps get you out of the corners and keep you on two wheels in challenging situations. You know what they say: “When in doubt, gas it out!”Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome to Motos and Friends, a weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 is an excellent foray into the middleweight ADV world. Associate Editor Neil Wyenn owns a 2021 model, and has spent the last year adding and improving various aspects of his bike. Some add-ons are more vital others, and he lets us into his secrets for getting the most out of the Yamaha Ténéré. His total enthusiasm for ADV riding and the Yamaha Ténéré in particular were pretty obvious to me—I’m sure you’ll feel the same. Links to all the items he mentions are below.