Real Dirt: Living with a Suzuki RMZ250

Real Dirt: Living with a Suzuki RMZ250

Same looks, different bike

The 2016 Suzuki RMZ250 is an awesome machine saddled with old-school styling

By Dave Willet. Photos Adam Duckworth

You know a manufacturer has confidence in its bikes when it makes no changes to a new model year, apart from a few graphic tweaks. And that’s what Suzuki has one with its 2017 RMZ250. And after a year with a 2016 RMZ, it’s easy to see why. It’s a fast, fun and great-handling bike.

The 2016 RMZ250 was a totally different machine to the older bike. It may have looked the same – as Suzukis always tend to do. But with a list of changes as long as your arm, it becomes apparent it's nothing like the previous model.

One of the biggest improvements is in the suspensions as the air forks are proving themselves to be a massive advantage over the old SSF Showa Spring set-up.

It's been through and and mud with flying colours

I have only tweaked the damping clickers a little for different tracks and made sure the air pressure was to what I thought was the sweet spot, 37 psi.

The suspension has a good, positive feeling and is really well balanced but I'd say it's set for a fast rider from the get go and could prove a bit too stiff for most club racers.

The new KYB shock uses improved damping adjusters for tuning rebound, high-speed compression - which is now all adjustable by clicks rather than turning a knob with a spanner - and low-speed compression. These are positioned on top of the shock for easier adjustments, too. On the old shock I found the range or shock action strange as you could really effect the shock’s performance by a few clicks. The range was just not there – the changes were too extreme to get right. It was like the right, in-between setting often wasn’t there.

Great suspension works on all tracks

This isn't the case now. I ran the same settings at a rough Fatcats track which I'd previously used at a small tight jumpy circuit the week before and it worked well for both I was surprised, but that’s what good suspension can do.

I’ve changed the gearing from a standard 49 to a 50-tooth rear which just gives it that extra midrange torque without losing too much top end speed. But bare in mind this worked well as I have DEP full exhaust system on which really excels at the top end. It just seems to let those exhaust gases flow much better than stock.

The Suzuki has had some tough terrain to deal with of late and it's still going strong. My upgrade progress so far is the new S7R DEP pipe system which is the newest pipe the British company has to offer. It's looking pretty trick too, I might add.

Yep, there's more power there!

Fitment was a breeze. Taking the standard system off and replacing it with the aftermarket performance pipe was drama-free and just how you'd imagine. There were no hidden surprises such as the shock or frame getting in the way like other brands - no names mentioned! The silencer is always the first thing to come off and the last thing to put on but it's the first thing to be tightened up followed by the front pipe bolt nuts.

The engine performance for the 2016 model is already up on power from the 2015 engine. You really appreciate the extra ponies in the mud as it rips through the slime much easier than the previous model.

With the pipe fitted, the performance is immense as the throttle response is improved and the midrange has a stronger power delivery. What is really noticeable is the extra top end power and the dyno chart speaks for itself.

DEP system works well

Second and third gear really benefit from the increased performance because the motor stretches the gear box out the sweeping turns become more fun - along with jumps as the engine breathes so much easier. I've always said that if Suzuki just changed the styling and designed a new plastic kit, they would see an instant benefit in sales. The Suzuki RMZ250 package is good but it just looks dated. Come on Suzuki, give the yellow fans something to shout about!

New rear shock is easy to adjust