2005 Suzuki RM250 - Test Ride & Review - Dirt Rider

As the rumors circulate about the future of two-strokes and the possibility of manufacturers ending their development, the 2005 lineup from Suzuki shows absolutely no signs that this is true. Many thought Suzuki's focus on the highly anticipated all-new RM-Z450 would result in very little effort put into the RM250. Fortunately for all die-hard two-stroke fans, that is not the case. The RM250 remains one of Suzuki's top priorities, so it received a going-over with a number of small changes. The 2004 model was without a doubt one of the best two-strokes of the year and came in third (second two-stroke) in our 250-class MX shootout (Dec. '03). With all the minor tweaking the '05 edition could very well be on top as the number-one 250 two-stroke. Along with continuing two-stroke development, Suzuki convinced Ricky Carmichael to leave Honda as soon as the Outdoor season concludes. Carmichael will most likely remain on a two-stroke and campaign on the RM250 for the supercross season, then switch to the new four-stroke RM-Z450 for the Outdoor season. Suzuki has taken big strides in the last six months to put itself in contention to be one of the top dogs.TOP FUEL
With the '04 RM250 having the most-aggressive motor of all of the 250 two-strokes, Suzuki didn't want to make any changes to the hard-hitting power characteristics so many of our test riders praised last year. So naturally, the '05 motor feels similar to the '04 version. The power comes on very strong at the bottom-end yet requires less clutch than last year's bike. Midrange power is where the motor really comes alive! The midrange hits hard and packs a serious dose of arm-jerking power, which pulls into a solid top-end that revs to the moon.During our first day of testing, we found the stock main jet to be a bit too rich at 168, so we went to a 165. The leaner main jet allowed the motor to pull a little more on top without any rich spots or sputtering. We also tried the optional one-half-step-leaner needle (NEDJ with the clip in the third position) but felt the leaner main jet was perfect for the conditions in which we tested. The stock needle (NECJ with the clip in the third position) and the 165 main jet worked well for all of our riders. Sand-track testing left our testers loving the midrange power, finding that all of the power was getting to the ground, though some felt the midrange power was too much on slippery blue-groove hardpack terrain. In dry conditions, throttle control is very important on the RM, and some thought there was simply too much rear wheelspin and decided to lug the motor in a higher gear. With more roll-on power than with last year's bike, the new motor has characteristics accommodating a wider range of riders. Beginner and novice-level riders can ride the bike in a higher gear to keep the power from hitting like a top-fuel dragster, while intermediate and pro-level riders can use the aggressive hit. Nevertheless, we believe the new RM250 still caters to the more-advanced rider.SMOOTH OPERATION
Other than the honed internal surface of the inner tube, all the '05 RM250 Showa suspension got were some much-needed setting revisions. On our first day of testing, we tried running the sag (ride height) at the recommended 100mm. As testing continued and the track began to get rough, we opted to drop the sag to 106mm. We noticed the bike settled easier in big braking bumps, and the bike became more predictable and less nervous. We also went in two clicks on rebound on the fork to slow it down, making the front wheel more planted midway through some of the tighter corners. Other than adjusting the sag, we didn't touch the shock. This Showa suspension is some of the best we have tested in stock trim. Riders weighing less than 150 pounds could probably use a lighter spring rate in the fork and shock, but we came away very impressed with how well the suspension worked without significant differences in settings among our three testers—a testament to the Showa components.No changes were made to the ergonomics. As in past years, the RM250 caters to all sizes. Taller riders fit perfectly, as the RM comes with a fairly high seat, while the vertically challenged may prefer a lower seat; but overall the RM is very accommodating. A nice surprise for '05 is the new aluminum handlebar, which has a similar bend to a Renthal 975. Gone is the soft steel bar with the old 1975 Hodaka bend.UPPING THE ANTE
As one of the pioneers in supporting amateur racing, Suzuki is boosting its contingency program to more than $6.7 million. It is also expanding trackside support at the amateur nationals and other selected races around the country, offering technical advice and supplying emergency parts free of charge. Suzuki is also continuing its Good Scholar Program for any student maintaining a 3.0 grade-point average. Along with all of the new programs Suzuki offers, the 2005 season will go down in history if RC can bring the yellow crew the coveted championship. The new RM250 is up to par in stock trim, and we can promise that with Carmichael on it, the new bike will be more than able to win races. All the Suzuki boys need is a bit of luck on their side, and they will be where they desire to be.RIDER'S RIFFS

The '04 RM250 was my favorite two-stroke, and the '05 feels even better. I ran the sag at 106mm and messed around with the rebound setting in the fork. Other than requiring a few clicks here and there, the bike was good to go right out of the box. I liked the jetting settings we came up with, and for once I felt as though the RM didn't need race gas to get it to run cleanly. I was really impressed with how much power the motor has; it offers a serious hit that carries all the way through the powerband. I had no trouble seat-bouncing big jumps right out of corners; the RM has the power to get the job done with confidence. My only real complaint was in getting the bike to shift from second to third gear. Once I figured out the right foot position with the shifter, it was not a problem; it just took some time to get used to the new style.
Corey Neuer/5'11"/165 lb/IntermediateThe first thing I noticed was the power—holy cow! The motor has so much usable power, and I love how responsive it is all the way through the powerband. I didn't feel as if I even had to use much clutch to get the revs up; the throttle response is quick and precise. The suspension was a real shocker for me; normally I don't like stock suspension settings, but I liked the stock settings on the RM. I softened up compression on the fork and the shock a few clicks, and that seemed to get rid of some of the nervousness the bike had when I first hopped on it.
Matt Armstrong/5'4"/150 lb/ProThe '05 RM250 feels quite a bit different from last year's model. The motor has a strong hit off the bottom and carries into a hard midrange, but I thought it flattened out on top. With a quick jetting change, that seemed to clear up. The suspension worked great; I made a few clicker adjustments to the rebound on the fork to try to get the front end to stay planted a bit better. It soaked up all of the big bumps but, under hard braking, seemed to want to push the front end. The ergonomics felt very comfortable right from the start. The brakes worked well, especially with the new rear rotor. Overall, I really liked all of the changes made to the '05 RM: They were definitely a step in the right direction.
Shane Smith/5'10"/168 lb/Pro

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