Let me begin by going back: The 2004 RM250 was a great bike. I attended the press release for that bike at this time last year, and walked away very impressed. As a result, I was really anxious to get on the '05 model and put in some laps on the very same bike that 10-time champion Ricky Carmichael will be racing in just a few short months. Will Suzuki's dry spell in the 250 class come to an end this January? Well, personally, I never bet against RC, but I did have some questions about the bike. So I invited five-time National Arenacross Champion Buddy Antunez out to the 2005 RM250 launch with me to find out if Ricky's new ride was up to the job. Being a former factory Suzuki rider, I thought Bud Man might have some insight into what Carmichael's race bike might be like.
Racer X Rides Ricky's Next Bike: the 2005 RM250
by David Pingree and Buddy Antunez; Eric Johnson photos
Suzuki goes all-out for their press launches, and this year was no exception. Buddy and I arrived at the Badlands Motocross Park, outside the high desert town of Victorville, California, and found the track watered and prepped. Buddy and I were chomping at the bit to carve the first lines. But after his rock/paper/scissors victory, it was Antunez who geared up and went out first for the Racer X RM ride.
After getting comfortable with the new bike and the track, Buddy put some hard laps in and finally brought it back to the pits. He had this to say about the new 'Zook: "This is a great bike. The power is really useable, and it turns awesome. It signs off a little on top, but I think it might just be the jetting. It feels a little rich on top, but the bike is good, especially for the average rider, because the power comes on right away. You don't have to work the clutch, you know?"
Regarding the handling, Buddy added: "The chassis on this thing is pretty good, too. The suspension worked good no matter how hard I pushed it, and it corners like it's on a rail. I loved the way that thing cornered. The clutch and shifting and all that stuff was perfect."
My experience wasn't much different than Buddy's. Right off the bat, I could tell the jetting was a little rich, and that kept the bike from revving out. After that change, which the Suzuki gang quickly made for me, I was very impressed with the bike. In fact, it had the best power of any stock bike I had ever ridden. The throttle response was instantaneous, and the motor pulled clean through the top with no flat spots. The suspension was decent, but the back end danced around on me a little bit. Although I adjusted the sag to 100mm, I am sure the bike would have handled better for me (158 lbs.) at about 108mm.
The details on the bike all came together, as well. Clutch, brakes, shifting, pegs, seat and bars were all good. The best thing about the bike for me was the way it cornered. You could change directions so quickly on this thing, it would change your hairstyle. RC, get ready to rail some turns +ICY and have a new hairdo, I guess.
Since Buddy was a factory Suzuki rider a couple years back, I asked him how he thought Ricky's race bike would be. "I rode a factory Suzuki 250 at the U.S. Open," he said. "It was more bike than I could handle at that particular time. I think Ricky is going to have a really awesome bike. The way that thing handles and turns is really going to be an asset to him. The motor will be as fast as any other 250, so power won't be an issue. Honda had some trouble with the way their bikes cornered, I think, and Ricky is going to be able to carry a lot more speed in the turns on the Suzuki. Reed had more corner speed than Ricky last year, and I think that will change in 2005.
Thanks to Suzuki for extending such a warm welcome to us. The water and Gatorade were cold and the Mexican-food buffet was a gift that kept giving all the way home. See you next year - maybe with your first 250 Supercross Championship since, what, 1981? With this bike, Ricky will be as fast as ever.
Suzuki Press Intro- featuring the 2005 RM 250
Suggested retail price: $5,999
Engine type: 249cc liquid cooled, 2-stroke single
Bore and stroke: 66.4 mm by 72.0mm
Front and rear brakes: single hydraulic disk
Wheelbase: 57.9 in (1470mm)
Dry weight: 212lbs (96 kg)
New Engine Features:
- Redesigned combustion chamber with reduced squish height for improved combustion efficiency and engine power controllability.
- Improved cylinder port design.
- Revised exhaust valve and sub-exhaust valve timing, plus redesigned main exhaust valve spring and governor spring for improved low to mid RPM power output and response.
- Refined crankcase design with additional internal reinforcement ribs for added durability.
- New crankshaft main bearing retainer - keeps main bearing in place when cases are split for easier, quicker maintenance.
- Crankshaft inertia increased 3% for improved rear wheel traction control and power delivery.
- New transmission input shaft featuring 18 involute-type splines on clutch side, plus lighter clutch spring rate- combined features provide lighter more controllable clutch operation and feel.
- Refined kick start lever and internal components for easier engine starts.
New Cassis Features:
- New steering head seal cap added for improved steering head bearing protection.
- New titanium footpegs for reduced weight.
- Updated swingarm design featuring a new bridge tube behind the pivot section for increased rigidity and improved straight line performance.
- Improved front fork performance:
-honed internal surface of the inner tube for smoother fork movement
-larger oil capacity above piston and shim stack for improved oil flow at full travel
-improved dust seal
-refined valve settings for better overall suspension balance
- Improved rear shock performance:
-larger inner rod diameter for increased oil flow at full compression
-refined valve settings for better overall suspension balance
- Redesigned chain guide for reduced weight
- New seat cover material for improved grip, plus new seat foam for better durability
- Smaller front and rear brake hose O.D. and hex style brake hose bolts for reduced weight
- More compact rear brake caliper design
- New aluminum handlebars