As of the last update on our Long Haul RM-Z250 (October '07), the bike was scoring particularly high on the fun meter but was in need of a good "freshen" session in the shop. As soon as the hourmeter rolled 50, we took the Suzuki to Dave Dye's Total Performance race shop in Hesperia, California. Digging into the motor, Dye found that the piston was looking pretty good but the cylinder showed some areas where the cross-hatching was worn smooth. As a result, he chose to put in a new cylinder to hold the new piston and rings. A small chunk of a clutch plate that had broken earlier in the bike's life had gotten into the channel for the cam bearing; that small piece of debris prevented the cam from sitting straight, which caused wear on the cam and the head. Dye built and installed a new head. In order to cure the shifting bugs, Dye also threw in a shift stopper spring off of a 2008 RM-Z250, which he claimed would make the bike shift much more smoothly and with less jumping out of gear. A thorough check of the rest of the bike revealed some blown-out silencer packing and a badly stripped oil drain plug bolt, both of which were fixed before the machine was handed back race-ready.After a new set of One Industries graphics, a Sunline handlebar and Moto Ray hand guards, the RM-Z was served 14 hours of hard motoing. From practice track days to local races and even a few post-rain rides in the hills, the bike performed excellently no matter what the conditions held. With the jetting still clean and the power holding strong, our biggest complaint sat with the Elka suspension, which had broken in to a stiff, harsh point that seemed to fight most pilots on rough tracks. While many of our pro testers still liked the setup, the jury called for the suspension to be revamped. Thus, we again shipped both the fork and shock to Canada and were much happier with the end result. Aiming for a WORCS-style setup, Elka refreshed and revalved the suspension and set up the RM-Z so that it now rode far smoother in the stroke, with increased settling in the turns to keep things sharp.It was at this time that we began to receive some of the '08 250Fs for testing, which meant that the staff would soon be neck-deep in first impressions with little extra time to devote to the Long Haul bike. Luckily, most of our expert testers ride every day of the week and are more than happy to bank hours on the Long Haul fleet. Privateer hero Chris Barrett mentioned that he'd like to borrow a 250F to practice on, so we handed over the RM-Z along with a stack of tires, filters and a case of Amsoil oil. Here's what he had to say:"With 64 hours on the RM-Z250, I was surprised at how strong the motor felt. The bike ripped! I was also impressed with the Boyesen Supercooler, as I didn't have any problems with overheating the smaller-than-I'm-used-to motor. The newly refurbished Elka suspension still worked like a champ and the whole bike felt really tight overall. Usually when you get to around 55-plus hours on a bike, it starts to feel pretty clapped out-not so for the Suzuki: If you keep up on regular maintenance and don't abuse the rev-limiter, she'll keep running strong for as long as you need."I rode the 250F on my usual rotation of local practice tracks and was impressed with how fun the bike was to moto. Even though I race 450s in Supercross and outdoors, the smaller motor on the Suzuki reminded me to carry speed into corners and keep my momentum up around the track. After two sets of tires on each end, three well-used Ready Racing air filters, four bottles of Amsoil oil and two oil filters, I gave the RM-Z back at 86 hours. Even with all the riding, the Suzuki never lost much power and still handled like new."