“Maxxis Tires” – Traditional Metal #179 “1986 Suzuki RM250” – PulpMX

For this version of Traditional Metal, we’re going to have a look again at Suzuki’s all-new RM250 for 1986.

 All-new from the bottom up, the 1986 RM250 appeared to convey again the glory days of Suzuki’s early ‘80s 250 success. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

The late seventies and early eighties have been a good time to be driving RMs within the 250 division. Beginning with the introduction of the primary RM250 in 1976, the yellow machines earned a well-deserved status for being a few of the finest all-around machines out there within the 250 division. The middleweight RMs weren’t at all times the perfect in anybody class, however they excelled on the monitor by being well-suspended, good-handling, and straightforward to journey. 

From 1981 by way of 1985, Suzuki’s Full Floater was the best-performing rear suspension in motocross. In 1986, authorized troubles, value chopping, and a transfer towards simplicity would lead to Suzuki shelving the unique Full Floater in favor of a extra Honda-like backside hyperlink design. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

In 1981, the RM250’s inventory took a significant leap ahead with the introduction of a ground-breaking all-new rear suspension system. Coined the Full Floater, the RM’s new suspension did away with the laid-down twin shocks in use since 1976 in favor of a much more sophisticated single shock design. The center of the Full Floater was its distinctive system of linkages and pull rods that remoted the shock from the chassis at each the highest and backside mounting factors. This allowed the shock to “float” independently from the remainder of the machine and supply superior monitoring within the tough. This revolutionary system proved to be a right away success and riders of all talent ranges praised the Full Floater for its unimaginable potential to easy out the monitor. 

The redesigned Full Floater for 1986 did away with the pull rods and rocker arms of the unique design in favor of an easier backside hyperlink configuration. The brand new format used an eccentric cam to differ the linkage curve and supplied the benefits of decrease weight, higher mass centralization, and diminished complexity. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

In 1982, Suzuki added a rocket motor to the combo and the RM250 proved to be almost unbeatable. The RM’s new liquid-cooled mill hit arduous, revved quick, and pulled to the moon. Its mixture of mega energy, mild weight, sharp dealing with, and flawless rear suspension dominated the charts with the Suzuki as soon as once more claiming the crown of finest 250 within the land.

In many individuals’s minds the most important improvement on the Suzuki entrance for 1986 was the hiring of the game’s winningest rider Bob Hannah to the race staff. Whereas Hannah’s successful days have been largely behind him, his experience as a improvement rider would show invaluable in getting Suzuki’s flagging manufacturing machines again to a aggressive state within the late 80s. Photograph Credit score: MOTOcross 

In 1983, the competitors caught up with Suzuki fumbling its horsepower benefit. The brand new RM was lighter, stabler, and even higher suspended, however modifications geared toward broadening its powerband ended up neutering its blistering efficiency. The brand new bike was simpler to journey and nonetheless aggressive, however many discovered its new mellower character a disappointment. 

The redesign of the Full Floater meant Suzuki might scale back the elements wanted within the RM’s chassis development by a exceptional 50%. This simplified manufacturing and allowed Suzuki to make the body slimmer and lighter. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

The 1984 season introduced with it one other all-new RM250, this time with a blue body and up to date works styling. The redesigned machine featured an all-new chassis, beefed-up suspension, and a refined model of the ’83 RM mill. The up to date motor gained a bigger airbox, new porting, and a revised exhaust in the hunt for the 1982’s misplaced horsepower. Whereas this yielded a 1.6 horsepower acquire on the dyno, it remained far in need of the output delivered by its high opponents in 1984. All three Japanese 250s outmuscled the RM and it remained a great-suspended bike in want of extra energy. 

An all-new motor for 1986 added a “energy valve” to the RM250 for the primary time. Very related in idea to Honda Computerized Torque Amplification Chamber (ATAC), the brand new Suzuki Computerized Exhaust Management (AEC) diversified the geometry of the exhaust system by way of the usage of a sub-chamber constructed into the exhaust port. In concept, this allowed the RM’s engineers to imitate the efficiency of a “torque” pipe and a “rev” pipe with one exhaust. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

A entrance disc brake and a coat of silver paint for the motor have been the most important RM250 headlines for 1985. One other retread of the mellow ’83 motor yielded predictable outcomes whereas the progressive however sophisticated Full Floater rear suspension continued to ship the perfect journey within the class. With good dealing with, wonderful suspension, and an easy-to-ride motor, the RM250 made a wonderful junior-level racer however not a lot of a pro-level weapon. 

One function that set the AEC aside from its almost similar Honda counterpart was this exterior adjuster that allowed the spring rigidity of the ability valve’s engagement to be fine-tuned. Photograph Credit score: Motocross Motion 

In 1986, Suzuki knew that they have been going to wish to step up their sport to have any likelihood of reclaiming their former glory. With the Manufacturing Rule taking impact in America in 1986, it will be extra vital than ever to supply their race staff with a aggressive machine proper out of the crate. Along with the brand new laws being carried out within the US, authorized battles would additionally power Suzuki to maneuver away from its authentic Full Floater design. 

One main change to the game in 1986 was the adoption of the Manufacturing Rule by the AMA. This meant the race groups might not subject unique one-off machines that bore no resemblance to what shoppers might discover on the showroom ground. Whereas this was a win for Common Joes, it made life more durable for riders like George Holland who have been compelled to marketing campaign machines that have been a step behind their opponents. Photograph Credit score: Dust Bike 

In 1974, a younger inventor by the title of Donald Richardson devised a rear suspension system for his motocross machine that changed the twin shocks frequent on the time with a single damper and bell-crank rising-rate linkage. Richardson patented the design and in 1978 entered right into a contract with Suzuki to refine and develop his suspension system. Within the settlement, Richardson was required to reveal all technical details about the idea and implementation of his rising-rate design. 

Whereas the unique Full Floater is universally praised for its efficiency, the story behind its improvement is extra controversial. A lot of the DNA that went into its preliminary development was the work of a younger engineer by the title of Don Richardson. Initially, Suzuki partnered with Richardson, however the Japanese model ended their relationship earlier than the Full Floater made it to manufacturing. The results of this inequitable parting was a lawsuit geared toward Suzuki and others whom Richardson felt had taken his concepts after which sought to chop him out of the income. Ultimately, Richardson would win his swimsuit and Suzuki can be compelled to pay him hundreds of thousands in damages. If you need to study extra, Richardson has the above ebook out there on Amazon detailing his facet of the occasions that came about. 

 In December of 1979, Suzuki declined to train the choice on his contract and ended ties with Richardson. Two years later, the Full Floater when into manufacturing utilizing a number of of Richardson’s improvements. In 1982, Richardson filed a patent infringement motion towards Suzuki claiming breach of contract, breach of fine religion and honest dealing, and misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques. What adopted was a protracted change of fits and countersuits that will finish with Richardson being awarded 50 cents for each Suzuki bought with the unique Full Floater within the US and $12 for each Full Floater outfitted Suzuki worldwide. Relying on gross sales figures, this equated to an award of someplace between 6 and 18 million {dollars} to Richardson.

An all-new pilot compartment for 1986 supplied a slimmer and trimmer format than earlier than. Whereas an enchancment over the previous RM, many riders nonetheless felt the Suzuki’s ergonomics and really feel have been a step behind what was out there from the competitors. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

Whereas this authorized entanglement was ignored by the fanatic press, there will be little doubt that it performed some half within the demise of the unique Full Floater design. Attributable to its massive dimension, excessive middle of gravity, and complex development, the unique Full Floater would almost certainly have been displaced ultimately, however in 1985, it was nonetheless the best-performing rear suspension in motocross. 

 Visually, the intense blue motor helped the RM stand out from the group, however the remainder of its athletics have been beginning to be a bit stale by 1986. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

With the way forward for the unique Full Floater unsure, it was determined that the all-new 1986 RMs would function an entire redesign of the enduring rear suspension system. By this level within the mid-eighties, most producers had concluded that Honda’s authentic bottom-link design supplied the perfect mixture of packaging and efficiency. By putting the linkage under the shock, the heaviest elements of the mechanism have been stored low on the chassis and the linkage mechanism not interfered with the location of the air field. In 1986, Suzuki moved to a bottom-link design however selected to go together with a singular implementation. 

Along with the add-on of the AEC, Suzuki’s engineers determined to go together with an extended stroke and smaller carburetor for 1986. This was executed to beef up the RM’s low-to-midrange torque and hopefully convey it as much as snuff with powerhouses like Yamaha’s YZ250. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

As a substitute of a conventional set of linkage arms connecting the shock to the swingarm, Suzuki selected to make use of an eccentric cam to differ the leverage delivered to its KYB shock. This new system was lighter, extra compact, and significantly easier than the unique Full Floater design. This allowed Suzuki to scale back manufacturing prices, slim the midsection of the machine, and decrease the middle of gravity of its RMs.  Other than the distinctive linkage, the remainder of the second-generation Full Floater was a completely standard design with a big single Kayaba shock delivering 12.4 inches of journey with 17 changes for compression and 21 settings for rebound out there. For 1986, the KYB damper acquired a bigger distant reservoir to combat fading and revamped valving designed to work with the redesigned linkage. 

Along with previous canines like Bob Hannah, Suzuki had fairly a steady of younger lions underneath their tent in 1986. Right here George Holland pilots his manufacturing unit Suzuki to 10th place in San Diego in 1986. Photograph Credit score: Naoyuki Shibata 

Up entrance, the 1986 RM250 featured a set of 43mm standard Kayaba forks delivering 11.8 inches of journey. The forks have been new for 1986 with a redesigned valving system incorporating a blow-off valve to enhance compliance on arduous hits. A brand new progressive-rate spring was added and the quantity of selectable settings for compression damping was diminished from 17 to eight for 1986. Whereas up to date, the fork’s damping system remained an old-school damper-rod design that lacked the delicate works-style cartridge damping system discovered on the Honda CR250R. Solely Honda had this innovation in 1986 and the remainder of its opponents suffered for its absence.  

 The ’86 RM250 supplied a stable burst within the center however not quite a bit on the margins. To maintain it percolating you needed to be fast on the set off and quick on the shifter. Photograph Credit score: Motocross Motion 

Paired with the all-new suspension was a totally redesigned body that was narrower, lighter, and stronger for 1986. Constructed of robust chromoly metal, the brand new chassis diminished the elements utilized in its development by 50 % over 1985. The redesigned body was extra compact and narrower by way of the midsection by half an inch through the usage of oval tubing the place the rider gripped the machine.  The brand new chassis was additionally shorter total with the RM dropping an inch of wheelbase for 1986. Whereas the general look of the RM’s bodywork was very acquainted solely the entrance and rear fenders remained a carryover from 1985. An all-new tank supplied a barely slimmer profile and an all-new saddle carried farther up the tank. Repositioned radiators have been mounted decrease within the body and new shrouds have been bolted on to work with the revamped tank and up to date format. The redesigned facet plates remained related in look to 1985 however featured a revised form to accommodate the brand new body and rear suspension. Daring new graphics and a vivid coat of blue paint for the motor completed off the numerous visible modifications for 1986. 

All-new forks for 1986 supplied progressive springs and fewer changes. As delivered from the manufacturing unit, these 43mm KYB standard items lacked plushness and delivered a jarring journey that positioned them firmly in the back of the fork pack in 1986. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

Along with the all-new chassis and suspension, Suzuki rolled out the primary main redesign to its liquid-cooled 250 energy plant since its introduction in 1982. The revamped motor was all-new from the bottom up and featured Suzuki’s first implementation of a “energy valve” to broaden efficiency. Suzuki’s title for its new system was “Computerized Exhaust Management” (AEC) and it consisted of a valve and sub-chamber constructed into the exhaust port that allowed the engineers to differ the amount and circulation traits of the exhaust gases as they exited the combustion chamber. At low RPM the valve was open to the sub-chamber, mimicking the attribute of a “torque” pipe to spice up low-end efficiency. Because the RPM elevated, a centrifugal-ball governor rotated the drum valve to shut off the sub-chamber and permit an unencumbered circulation of exhaust to the enlargement chamber. By various the geometry of the exhaust system, the AEC allowed Suzuki’s engineers to present the RM the ability traits of two completely different exhaust techniques in a single. Not like Honda’s very related ATAC (Computerized Torque Amplification Chamber), the Suzuki design did permit for fine-tuning of the mechanism by way of the usage of an externally-adjustable preload spring. 

In 1986 there have been two stable contenders, one again marker, and one all-star within the 250 class. Whereas the RM, YZ, and KX all had their boosters, the CR250R’s mixture of motor, dealing with, and suspension efficiency delivered a knock-out blow that left the competitors reeling. Photograph Credit score: Motocross Motion 

Just like the chassis, the motor was narrower in 1986 with Suzuki remodeling the transmission and clutch mechanism to scale back the width of the motor by seven %. The redesigned transmission featured new ratios and barely smaller gear units whereas the clutch moved to a rack-and-pinion engagement to enhance motion and slim down the mechanism. Each the connecting rod and coolant system have been lighter for 1986 with the water pump adopting a direct drive from the crankshaft and deleting two hoses from the ’85 motor. To additional enhance low-end torque, Suzuki’s engineers elevated the motor’s stroke for ‘86 and diminished the scale of the carburetor from 38mm to 36mm. The mixer retained Mikuni’s VM flat-slide design, however the smaller dimension was mentioned to enhance low-to-midrange throttle response. Internally, the brand new cylinder featured revised porting and enlarged coolant passages for elevated reliability. To realize again a few of the top-end efficiency sacrificed by the smaller carburetor, Suzuki enlarged the airbox and redesigned the exhaust system. The brand new pipe was tuned to benefit from the AEC and reshaped to tuck in higher for improved ergonomics. Paired with the brand new pipe was a redesigned oval alloy silencer that Suzuki claimed was quieter for 1986. 

After 5 years of suspension domination Suzuki took a significant step backward in 1986. The redesigned Full Floater was suffering from stiction and delivered a harsh journey on small bumps and chatter. Huge hits have been no situation, however the shock’s low-speed efficiency relegated it to final place within the ’86 suspension standings. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

Bob Hannah’s race schedule in 1986 was restricted to a couple selection occasions held at tracks he favored. His win on the Unadilla 250 USGP in July proved that the previous man of motocross nonetheless had what it took when the circumstances favored him.  Photograph Credit score: Dust Bike 

On the monitor, the all-new RM250 turned out to be largely a disappointment. The all-new motor didn’t ship on the guarantees of the AEC and produced a lackluster powerband that was each sluggish and arduous to journey. Low-end torque was all however nonexistent regardless of the addition of the smaller carb, longer stroke, and energy valve exhaust. Out of turns, the RM was sluggish to reply, and any kind of deep soil demanded a fan or two of the clutch to get the Suzuki going. The midrange energy was barely improved however the RM continued to be outmuscled within the center by the CR and KX. High-end pull efficiency was common at finest with the Suzuki pulling farther than the tractor-like Kawasaki however far much less enthusiastically than the Honda and Yamaha. At its peak, it gave up over two horsepower to the CR and YZ and what thrust it did have was delivered over a really brief burst within the center. Quick shifting or over-revving the motor resulted in a major drop in energy and it was important to maintain the intense blue mill within the candy spot of its slender powerband to have any shot at holding its rivals in sight. In inventory situation, it was too sluggish for quick guys and too demanding for a lot of novices. With main motor work, the RM’s mill could possibly be aggressive, however within the inventory situation, it was by far essentially the most disappointing energy plant of 1986. 

The RM’s best asset in 1986 was its dealing with and the bike could possibly be trusted to carry its line within the turns and at pace. Photograph Credit score: Dust Bike

On the suspension entrance, the RM was as soon as once more a severe disappointment. As this was beforehand the bike’s greatest benefit, this setback was doubly disappointing. The brand new non-floating Full Floater lacked all the plushness its predecessor was well-known for and delivered a harsh journey that was panned by all. The small bumps and chatter that the 1985 RM devoured have been transmitted on to the bottom of the rider on the ’86. Each the damping and spring charges have been tremendous stiff, and the rear of the machine solely appeared to be pleased when coming down from the stratosphere on massive hits. A few of this lack of compliance was traced to the brand new linkage which suffered from abnormally excessive drag. The eccentric cam design demanded fixed servicing and in the event you uncared for it, the mechanism turned a significant hindrance to the shock’s motion. When you have been Bob Hannah, the brand new Full Floater most likely labored, however for the remainder of us mortals, the new-look rear finish delivered back-of-the-pack efficiency. 

Regardless of its many upgrades the brand new RM’s 246cc mill delivered disappointing efficiency. Low-end energy and top-end pull have been sorely missing with the bike delivering what energy it did have over a brief burst within the center. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

Up entrance, the information was not any higher with the revamped forks delivering a equally harsh and unforgiving journey. This time, comfortable springs and overly aggressive damping have been responsible for the Kayaba fork’s disappointing efficiency. In inventory situation, they hung down within the journey and hammered right into a wall of damping power on small and medium-sized bumps. This spike within the journey was transmitted on to the rider’s wrists and the RM was famous for its potential to pump up its rider’s arms briefly order. The brand new blow-off valve integrated into the ’86 forks didn’t appear to activate on something lower than a two-story drop off and the bike was solely pleased when slamming into cliff faces or touchdown from severe sky photographs. With stiffer springs and a few fork oil fiddling, they may a minimum of turn into livable, however even with these mods, they have been by no means going to be as easy and plush because the Honda’s superb Showa cartridge items. 

With its slender energy and harsh suspension the RM required a “go for broke” strategy to maintain up with its rivals. Photograph Credit score: Dust Rider

On the dealing with entrance, the RM250 was way more profitable in 1986. The brand new shorter chassis turned very properly, and the bike’s entrance finish could possibly be trusted to carry its line in most circumstances. The lowered middle of gravity for 1986 was noticeable on the monitor, however the bike nonetheless felt extra top-heavy than most of its opponents. This didn’t smash the RM’s dealing with however some riders did really feel it didn’t “circulation” by way of the turns as gracefully as machines just like the Honda CR250R. Excessive pace stability was a lot better than the CR, nevertheless, and various riders felt it supplied the perfect mixture of turning prowess and fifth-gear confidence within the class. The tough inventory suspension appeared to work higher the quicker you went and the RM hardly ever shook its head and customarily went the place it was pointed. The bike’s leaping manners have been praised as properly, and the RM was very happy to overcome any hole the pilot was prepared to try. 

Erik Kehoe was one other younger star on the Suzuki squad in 1986. Whereas Kehoe was stable within the 250 class, his finest outcomes have been at all times within the 125 division. Photograph Credit score: Kinney Jones 

On the detailing entrance, Suzuki wanted a bit extra fine-tuning in 1986. The bars, grips, and levers have been all a step behind the perfect within the class, and various curse phrases have been uttered whereas attempting to take away the RM’s infuriating vulcanized throttle grip. The RM’s myriad of bolt sizes and the inordinate quantity of washers additionally made it extra time-consuming to work on than lots of its opponents. The brakes have been mediocre at finest with the entrance disc and rear drum providing barely sufficient efficiency. The rubber hose used for the entrance disc delivered a mushy really feel on the lever and most energy was properly under what was supplied by the Honda and Kawasaki. Including a braided metal line helped with the mushy really feel, however even with that improve, it was not as sturdy because the binders discovered on the competitors. The brand new clutch proved sturdy, however the engagement was not notably easy and the pull on the lever was too agency for a lot of. The transmission shifted properly, however some RMs (together with the MXA check unit) suffered costly transmission failures in 1986. The brand new Full Floater design had quite a bit fewer shifting elements to service, however the eccentric cam linkage proved to be in fixed want of consideration. When you uncared for to lubricate the cam repeatedly, then the drag from the linkage had a noticeable impact on the shock’s efficiency. Fixed servicing was a should in the event you hoped to keep away from enormous quantities of stiction from the rear finish.

The brand new eccentric cam Full Floater linkage proved susceptible to inordinate quantities of stiction and would solely final one yr on the full-size RMs. Photograph Credit score: Motocross Motion 

Whereas the inventory RM250 was no rocket, it was able to spectacular pace with a gifted rider like Bob Hannah on the controls. Photograph Credit score: MOTOcross   

When it comes to look, the RM was a little bit of a blended bag in 1986. Most riders dug the brand new blue motor and total colour scheme of the machine, however the bodywork was beginning to present its age. Some riders appreciated the distinctive “Suzuki” look, however there was no denying that the RM was not as properly completed as machines just like the ‘86 YZ and CR. Huge gaps within the bodywork and oddball shapes for the plastic made the bike’s look a love-it-or-hate-it proposition to most. Whereas this definitely set the RM aside, many riders on the time felt that it did the bike no favors within the showroom. 

The inventory grips on the RM have been actual palm-chewers and eradicating them was an actual ache within the kidney belt resulting from Suzuki’s choice to vulcanize the grip on to the throttle. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

Other than its look, the brand new bodywork was largely an enchancment for 1986. The brand new format was slimmer and the longer seat made it simpler to slip ahead in turns. Shorter riders additionally appreciated the straightforward attain to the bottom the RM’s low seat peak afforded. Whereas this was a boon for these under 5’9”, taller riders discovered the Suzuki’s format slightly cramped. The inventory seat foam was additionally given a thumbs down for sacking out shortly and permitting each jolt from the cruel shock to make it proper to the rider’s bottom. Many riders additionally felt that the RM’s “sit in” ergonomics felt slightly old style in comparison with the flatter format seen on glossy new machines just like the redesigned YZ. 

As we speak, these footpegs look extra like toothpicks however in 1986 these have been what you’d discover on each inventory machine. It was not till 1990 that Kawasaki would kick off the motion towards wider pegs. Photograph Credit score Suzuki 

General, the 1986 RM250 proved to be a large disappointment for Suzuki followers. The passion for an all-new machine shortly turned to bitter resignation because the machine’s efficiency deficiencies turned readily obvious.  After years of dominating the suspension class, the RM plummeted to the underside of the standings in 1986. The brand new Full Floater was harsh in motion and the forks have been wrist-busting. The brand new power-valved motor didn’t ship on its promised torque and almost everybody thought the older and easier ’85 motor was most likely higher. In the long run, it was solely the RM’s dealing with that didn’t disappoint. Gradual, cobby-looking, and poorly suspended, the 1986 RM250 stands because the low level of Suzuki’s efficiency within the Eighties. 

All-new and all blue, the RM250 took a number of probabilities in 1986 however not lots of them paid off. Photograph Credit score: Suzuki 

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