|GS3 Owner and MD Test Rider Russ Somers|
We have put a lot of track time, and trail time, on our 2002 Suzuki RM250 test model. Before we get to the details, let’s get to the bottom line. The new RM250 is perhaps the best stock 250cc motocross bike we have yet ridden. The bike handles extremely well, balancing Suzuki’s traditional quick turning ability with reasonable straight-line stability, and has a dramatically improved motor for 2002.
Changes from last year’s all-new RM250 include the following. The chassis features a revised shock linkage, new swingarm (more rigid), rubber-mounted handlebar for reduced vibration, new front brake pads and revised fork settings. In the engine department, Suzuki made significant changes to increase and broaden power. The engine includes a new exhaust valve design, revised exhaust porting, a tighter piston-to-cylinder clearance, new exhaust pipe, increased transmission durability and lighter drive chain.
All this adds up to a 2002 model that, in stock form, absolutely shreds a motocross track. The new RM250 has the broadest powerband of any stock 250 we have tested this year (we have not tested the Yamaha or KTM). Good low-end builds quickly through a very strong mid-range and high rpm pull. This allows you to exit a tight, slow corner in second gear and accelerate quickly to clear that long table top or double jump with ease, where other bikes might need a dangerous two-three shift before take-off.
The motor pulls hard, but smoothly — and is easy to ride. If it lacks anything versus the competition, it may be down slightly on low-end pull (but low-end is still pretty good). The mid-to-high rpm power is about as good as it gets in a stock 250.
Aside from an outstanding engine, Suzuki returns with essentially the same, great-handling chassis. Now, however, the fork action is much improved. Combined with the rubber-mounted handlebar, and a newly re-balanced crankshaft (for reduced engine vibration), the new fork provides a smooth ride, only revealing some harshness on braking and acceleration bumps.
The stock shock absorber has been dialed in well by Suzuki, as well. The RM250 always finds traction exiting turns and the back end flows reasonably well over rough, choppy tracks. Again, braking bumps and acceleration bumps transmit some harshness, however.
Like most stock bikes, spring rates, front and rear, are a little bit soft for heavier and faster riders.
RMs have long been known for slick-shifting transmissions, and the 2002 RM250 is no different. After extensive testing, we cannot recall missing a shift (with or without the clutch). Together with a very smooth (and, so far, very durable) clutch, the transmission is simply something you don’t have to give a second thought to. The gear ratios also seem to complement the power delivery. We didn’t find it necessary to add any teeth to the rear sprocket, although tighter, supercross-style tracks might benefit from this.
The RM250 still turns exceptionally well — perhaps better than any other stock 250 motocrosser available. Overall, the bike feels extremely light and maneuverable — not that different from the feeling of a 125. Once again, Suzuki’s new frame design combines reasonable stability with this nimbleness. Excellent.
The ergonomics of the RM250 are also well designed. The seat is very flat and allows the rider to get as far forward as he might like to in corners (weighting the front wheel), and slide back to the rear fender (through whoops, for instance) with ease. The seat is also very soft, and we have not experienced any breakdown in the seat foam at this point. The RM250 is slender, and did not catch our boots while moving around on the bike. The bars feel a tad low and close, but a switch to an after-market bend (such as a McGrath bend, for instance) would easily cure this.
RMs had some durability issues in years past, but Suzuki has worked hard to overcome these. The stock clutch is much stronger now, and Suzuki has clearly put an effort into the overall quality of the machine — stepping up to stock Excel rims (as good as it gets), for instance. We have been riding our test model hard for at least 3 months without experiencing any mechanical problems.
Overall, the 2002 RM250 is an excellent machine — one that works well for novices to pros. With one of the best contingency programs for racers, the new RM250 is a package that is very hard to beat. The U.S. MSRP is $5,899. Visit Suzuki’s website for more technical details and specifications.