Best Motocross Bike 6th Place—2020 Suzuki RM-Z250

A great-cornering 250 four-stroke MX bike.

The Suzuki RM-Z250 was heavily revised in 2019, but while the updated machine was certainly an improvement over the prior generation model, the yellow bike was unable to improve upon its sixth place ranking. With only different colored accents on the graphics for 2020, the RM-Z250 once again finished in sixth place, but remains a good bike with plenty of potential.

In a stacked field of 250 four-stroke motocross bikes, the Suzuki RM-Z250 finishes in sixth place.
In a stacked field of 250 four-stroke motocross bikes, the Suzuki RM-Z250 finishes in sixth place.Jeff Allen

2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Engine

The RM-Z250 is one of only two bikes in the class to come with a kickstarter, the other being the Kawasaki KX250. At 237 pounds, the Suzuki is tied with the Yamaha YZ250F as the heaviest bike in the shootout. It’s also the heaviest to not come with electric start.
Left: The RM-Z250 is one of only two bikes in the class to come with a kickstarter, the other being the Kawasaki KX250. Right: At 237 pounds, the Suzuki is tied with the Yamaha YZ250F as the heaviest bike in the shootout. It’s also the heaviest to not come with electric start.Jeff Allen

The first thing we did after taking delivery of the RM-Z250 was mount a Dunlop D404 street tire on the rear wheel and run it on our in-house Dynojet dynamometer, where it produced 36.4 hp at 12,200 rpm and 18.3 pound-feet of torque at 9,300 rpm. The Suzuki ranks sixth in both peak horsepower and torque. It makes 4.4 less peak horsepower than the class-leading KTM 250 SX-F and 1.8 less peak horsepower than the Yamaha YZ250F, which ranks fifth in peak horsepower. We then mounted a fresh set of Dunlop MX33 soft-to-intermediate-terrain tires to ensure consistency in traction among the six competitors through the duration of the test.

The RM-Z250 produces the least peak horsepower and torque of all six bikes with 36.4 hp at 12,200 rpm and 18.3 pound-feet of torque at 9,300 rpm.
The RM-Z250 produces the least peak horsepower and torque of all six bikes with 36.4 hp at 12,200 rpm and 18.3 pound-feet of torque at 9,300 rpm.Robert Martin

The RM-Z250 engine is fairly mellow in comparison to its competition and has a slower-revving, heavy-feeling character. The meat of the power is the midrange. It has decent bottom-end power, but not much top-end, and signs off earlier than the other five bikes in the shootout. Due to its minimal top-end power, short-shifting is required, which makes for a very busy left foot. The lean coupler helps clean up the midrange, adding a little more throttle response, but has no effect on top-end power.

The Suzuki has a fair amount of engine-braking that is not very noticeable at first, but after a few laps you can stop using the rear brake in some areas and just downshift, such as when entering corners. In some conditions, test riders liked this quality as it helped them improve their ability to roll through corners. The clutch pull is rather hard and having to kickstart it only adds to the engine’s old-school four-stroke character.

2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Suspension

“With some suspension work, the Suzuki could be a good racebike. It won’t be the fastest, but because it’s easy to ride, has a comfortable rider cockpit, and corners well, you just might find yourself going faster on the stopwatch than you expected.”
“With some suspension work, the Suzuki could be a good racebike. It won’t be the fastest, but because it’s easy to ride, has a comfortable rider cockpit, and corners well, you just might find yourself going faster on the stopwatch than you expected.” —Allan BrownJeff Allen

When Suzuki updated the RM-Z250 in 2019, the company spec’d it with a KYB AOS (Air-Oil Separate) fork. Unfortunately, the fork’s 5.0 N/mm spring rate was way too stiff for even our heaviest and fastest test riders. The 52.0 N/mm spring on the KYB shock was on the firm side as well. With no mechanical changes in 2020, these spring rates returned to the RM-Z250 for MY20. Test riders described the components as feeling like 450 suspension on a 250F. Their observations proved to be correct, as the 2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 uses the same spring rates as the 2020 Suzuki RM-Z450.

Due to its stiffness, the fork is harsh, rides high in the stroke, and is reluctant to break into the travel in low-speed bumps, transmitting a lot of feedback to the rider’s hands. It can be improved with some adjustments. Opening the compression and closing the rebound on the fork helps it move deeper into the stroke. In turn, this takes some weight off the rear of the bike, thereby reducing the shock’s harshness. Slowing the rebound on the shock also helps, and adding a half-turn more preload to the shock helps keep it higher in a softer part of the stroke too. Because of how stiff the KYB components are, bottoming resistance is good and pitching is minimal. In stock form, the suspension setup on the RM-Z250 might be just about perfect for a rider who weighs 190 pounds or more.

2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Chassis/Handling

“I love the chassis on the Suzuki. It has a comfy feeling cockpit and turns well once you get the suspension dialed in.”
“I love the chassis on the Suzuki. It has a comfy feeling cockpit and turns well once you get the suspension dialed in.” —Tanner BassoJeff Allen

Weighing in at 237 pounds on our automotive scales, the RM-Z250 is tied with the Yamaha YZ250F as the heaviest bike in the class. They are both 6 pounds heavier than the lightest—the KTM 250 SX-F. The RM-Z250 is also the heaviest bike without electric start. Aside from the stiffness of the suspension and its overly rigid chassis, both of which provide minimal rider comfort, the RM-Z250 is fun to ride and handles fairly well. It lives up to Suzuki’s reputation of being an excellent cornering machine, requiring very little additional input after the corner is initiated due to the lack of flex in the chassis and engine-braking, which helps keep the front wheel planted.

The rider triangle and cockpit are just about perfect and one of the best in the class. The frame and bodywork are very narrow and easy to move around as well. The seat is flat from front to rear, which also makes it easy to move around on. While it provides a sitting-on feeling, there is still a good balance of sitting on versus sitting in the bike.

Why The 2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Should Have Won

“The Suzuki is easy to position for any part of the track and the cockpit is comfortable being that it’s narrow between your legs.”
“The Suzuki is easy to position for any part of the track and the cockpit is comfortable being that it’s narrow between your legs.” —Michael WickerJeff Allen

It has good low to mid power, great cornering ability, a narrow chassis, comfortable ergonomics, and well-proportioned rider triangle.

Why The 2020 Suzuki RM-Z250 Didn’t Win

It makes the least peak horsepower and torque, lacks top-end power, revs slowly, has the least comfortable suspension, an overly rigid chassis, and no electric start.

Gearbox

“When it comes to traction and predictability, the RM-Z250 suffers due to a stiff, uncomfortable feel. This is most noticeable on any type of square-edged hole or bump on the track.”
“When it comes to traction and predictability, the RM-Z250 suffers due to a stiff, uncomfortable feel. This is most noticeable on any type of square-edged hole or bump on the track.” —Eric StorzJeff Allen

2020 SUZUKI RM-Z250 TECH SPEC

PRICE $7,899
ENGINE 249cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 5-speed/chain
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 36.4 hp @ 12,200 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 18.3 lb.-ft. @ 9,300 rpm
FRAME Aluminum twin-spar
FRONT SUSPENSION KYB Air-Oil Separate (AOS) coil-spring fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 12.2-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload, high-/low-speed compression damping, and high-/low-speed rebound damping; 11.8-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Nissin 2-piston caliper, 270mm disc
REAR BRAKE Nissin 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
WHEELBASE 58.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 37.3 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 1.7 gal.
MEASURED WEIGHT 237 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT suzukicycles.com