Suzuki's 2012 RM-Z250 has been voted the best bike in class by one of America's leading motorcycle magazines - Motorcycle USA.
Suzuki changed little on the 2012 model, instead opting to stay with the successful formula of the 2011 RM-Z250; and this proved in it favour with the Suzuki coming out the winner from the five manufacturers entered.
Motorcycle USA reported: "The powers that be at Suzuki decided to leave well enough alone and sent the 2012 model into the fray unchanged for this year apart from bold new graphics and a red stripe on the seat. With just about every other model getting at least some sort of performance-enhancing update, would the RM-Z's razor sharp handling and massive power be just as impressive this year?
"In the motor department, Suzuki decided to let it ride for 2012. The calculated gamble paid off as the RM-Z bested the competition in outright horsepower generation with 35.26 ponies. In the torque number the Suzuki still hung tough with a second-best 18.45 lb-ft of torque. The RM-Z also just edged out the Kawasaki on the dyno for top-dog in the horsepower department with a peak 35.26 hp.
"Those impressive power numbers also transferred to the dirt effectively in the holeshot and 3rd-gear roll-on tests. Launching the 233-pound RM-Z from the start line was a bit more difficult than the lower-powered bikes; the rear tyre tended to break loose and kick to the right during both testing runs. Even so, the Suzuki rocketed to a 4.05-second time to 120 feet at 37.7 mph. A few more practice runs to sort the power delivery would net better results, but we set the two-run procedure to judge power as well as launch-ability. In the 3rd-gear roll-on test the Suzuki blasted its rivals, taking just 3.01 seconds and 121.2 feet to accelerate from 15 to 40 mph.
"It's clear the 2012 RM-Z250 owned the score sheet in the objective tests, so how would our motley crew of testers rank the Suzuki? Every rider enjoyed the power output, and, if not for the incredible character of the KX250F engine, the Suzuki would have been the hands-down favourite. The Suzuki felt every bit as beefy as the Kawasaki until the revs climbed into the stratosphere, at which point it signed off just a hair too soon. On the bottom and midrange it was an absolute ripper.
"Once again the Suzuki's motor was on point!" exclaims retired pro racer Nick Thiel. "The bike ripped right off the bottom and kept pulling away on the top-end. You could ride it a gear high or over-rev it. Either way it worked well.
"Last year the RM-Z ranked highly with our testers in the handling department, and this year was no different. The Suzuki is sharp as a knife, and in the opinion of some of the less-aggressive testers almost too sharp. There was no denying the Suzuki could carve inside of any other bike in this test. Tight rutted corners stood no chance under the wheels of the Suzuki.
"Just as impressive as the handling is the braking performance of the 2012 RM-Z250. Squeezing the front brake rewards the rider with strong and responsive action without any hint of being grabby. At the rear, the feel was a bit less powerful but still more than adequate. Even so with the praise from our riders, the brakes on the Suzuki ranked second behind the Brembos of the KTM.
"The only point of contention between the testing staff when it came to ergonomics was the handlebars. Riders either loved the bars or hated them. Some felt the pulled-back sweep helped with the excellent cornering of the RM-Z, while others said the bars needed a straighter, more-modern bend.
"Our testers also gave the Suzuki the nod in the subjective category of Transmission, Gearing and Clutch. The RM-Z shifts with the precision of a Swiss watch, and the clutch never showed signs of fading and the gearing complimented the punchy power from the Suzuki's powerplant.
"I loved the feel of this transmission. It felt like a works-style gearbox," declares Thiel. "There were no issues of false-neutrals for missed shifts. It was the favourite transmission out of all the bikes."
Motorcycle USA Total Scores:
Performance Points: (HP/ Torque/ Weight/ Holeshot Acceleration/ Roll on Acceleration/ Sound/ MSRP/ Super Lap Time).
1 - Suzuki 67
2 - Honda 63
3 - Kawasaki 57
4 - Yamaha 56
5 - KTM 53
Rider Subjective Points: (Engine/ Suspension/ Handling/ Trans-Clutch-Gearing/ Brakes/ Ergonomics/ Appearance/ Preference).
1 - Kawasaki 70
2 - Honda 63
3 - Suzuki 61
4 - KTM 55
5 Yamaha 53
Overall Shootout Points:
1 - Suzuki 128
2 - Kawasaki 127
3 - Honda 126
4 - Yamaha 109
5 - KTM 108
To read the full 250cc Shootout on Motorcycle USA's website and watch the video: CLICK HERE
To watch a short video clip from Team Suzuki Australia's Rockstar Motul team on the 2012 RM-Zs: CLICK HERE