Suzuki carries on leading kids on their way to motocross success in 2010 with the RM85, a small and extremely versatile entry-level dirt bike with still plenty to prove in its segment, especially if we consider that the competition hasn’t upgraded their bikes either. Kids with a soft spot for dirt racing will find the Suzuki RM85 package truly manageable, meaning they’ll be sticking with the Japanese brand as long as this last is able to supply guaranteed performance and wins.
As you can expect, the bike doesn’t bring new technical achievements as its bigger motocross siblings haven’t sponsored it more than they have in the last couple of years, but it does mark the new model year with a new look, something that shouldn’t be neglected as 85cc dirt bikes remain unchanged for years.
But that wasn’t the case of the small Suzuki at all points. The thumper has come a long way as it has been initially called RM80. First introduced in 1978, it became known as a simple, but very practical two-wheeled machine powered by a 79cc air-cooled single-cylinder two-stroke, piston and reed valve. The powerplant would have developed 14.5 horsepower and 9.2 Nm, both at 11.000 rpm.
With small steps, the RM80 started writing its history pages. By 1980, the engine had gained another horsepower and until 1983 another half. By doing the math, you’ll be slightly disappointed by the 16 hp pushing in on all kinds of terrains, but remember that these are the ’80s that we’re talking about.
In the late 1980s, water-cooling had entered the scene and the now famous RM80 had to have it. Also, the cylinder capacity was increased to 82cc. Now the radically upgraded two-stroke motor could brag about its 27.5 hp. It was simply amazing for the time and we can’t say it is totally outdone today either.
Of course, its looks have also evolved with time, resulting into a sleeker, lighter and more comfortable motorcycle that withstood the test of time. Yellow was the color from the very beginning and the constancy is worthy of appreciation.
There has been a first attempt of bringing the engine up to 85cc (84.7, to be precise) in 1998, but it seemed to be a little bit early as it was not that docile for riders to “make their hand” on it. So in 1999 they’ve reduced it back to 82cc.
The next big change was in 2002. This is when the RM85 was introduced and it featured, you’ve guessed it, the 84.7cc liquid-cooled two-stroke AETC equipped engine. The frame was an aluminum cradle unit sitting on progressive suspensions. Disc brakes were present long before on the RM85.
2003 saw the introduction of the Suzuki RM85L, which could be easily distinguished with its high-wheel kit.
After that, the RM85 has undergone only design changes and slight retuning. In 2009, they stopped making the RM85L as kids were better off with the DR-Z125 after gaining riding experience.
The Suzuki RM85 had to keep up with the stiff competition coming from Yamaha’s YZ85 and the Kawasaki KX85, both being new for 2010.
Designed for the podium, the YZ is a light, compact and powerful motocrosser that teaches young riders how to grab what they consider theirs and leave no room for errors. In order to do that, the bike relies on an 84.7cc crankcase reed-valve-inducted engine with a six-speed transmission that is both compact and light package. Everything on it is about racing so that no kid will be disappointed.
This is also the case of the 2010 Kawasaki KX85. Having an 84cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine with Kawasaki Integrated Power-valve System, it is more than competitive on the track and, frankly, that is where it all matters. The engine bangs are now being better exploited through a new exhaust system. Suspensions feature long-travel and are fully adjustable, as expected.
It is quite hard not to love the 2010 Suzuki RM85 as it has inspired its design on the RM-Z450 and RM-Z250 models. I consider it a preamble for the small rider in what concerns design and attitude and if we take it literally, it is indeed a two-stroke miniature version of those bikes.
Compact and aggressive, the track can’t reserve any surprises for it. The fenders are very high and the side panels become one with the tank. Graphics are new for next year’s model and the color is the legendary Suzuki Yellow.
You will find that although not as big as a 125cc machine, the RM85 is far away (in size) from the 50cc bikes you’re all running away from. So it completes with the purpose of its creation, at least visually.
Due to the bike’s awesome versatility, I am situated right on the limit above which it wouldn’t be common sense to ride one of these things, but what the hell, I said. So I took the Suzuki RM85 on a dirt track and thought at how kids get the best out of these things with the intention of experiencing the very same thing.
First of all, the days of the two-stroke engine are not gone! This conclusion, from which I choose to start writing, is based on the fact that great torque is being delivered from right above idle and the impressive rush is maintained all through the rev range. And if you’re by now thinking that the top end had to be sacrificed in order to achieve power starts, you are definitely wrong.
The retuned engine delivers a strong top end with no need to replace the rear sprocket whatsoever, at least in the first couple of weeks. After all, the liquid-cooled 84.7cc two-stroke engine is being backed up by the six-speed tranny, and we all know how rare that is on motocross bikes. Also, the gearbox is a crucially important piece as it allows for a more than decent top speed if deciding to test the RM85 on the trails also, like I did. The bike had no problems reaching what I approximated to be 60 mph in top gear and it is very stable, perfect for sustaining the ride at these kind of speeds (for an 85cc motocrosser).
Though fast and versatile, the Suzuki RM85 doesn’t manage to split you in half with that very narrow seat and that is mostly because you won’t be sitting on it for a very long time. Bumps and jumps are very demanding, so the few moments in which you’ll be touching the seat are during cornering. So if the engine pulls strong and the gearbox is smooth and very precise, how’s the clutch? Tough, I must say. When getting out of corners, the clutch was seriously abused and during the test ride, there have been no problems in this concern.
From beginners to experts, the wide powerband of the two-stroke motor is there to provide, but the chassis’s qualities are also well worth being mentioned if ever ridden an RM motorcycle, especially this small one.
The motocross machine handles very easily and the rider feels completely in control over it and that is mostly because of the spacious and well thought ergonomics. Easy to move on, the bike invites for a little bit of action and the Showa suspensions are there to provide. Composed of a fully-adjustable 37mm front fork and rear shock absorber working closely together with the aluminum swingarm with RM250-similar chain adjustment, there is no wonder you rarely happen to feel bottoming resistance when landing. Also, they soak up bumps with great easy, making it perfect again for trail riding if not thinking to hit professional levels.
Even if by reading the engine’s displacement, disc brakes aren’t quite the thing you would expect to work with when needing to stop or slow down, the RM85 is a pure competition motorcycle, so it features both front and rear braking systems. How do these perform? Very well, I will have to say, especially when you apply both the front and rear systems. And with those grippy tires, you rarely find yourself looking for a nice and dry surface on which to stop as it will do it anyway.
Probably the best of Suzuki is the fact that is delivers proven reliability without sacrificing performance or versatility, something that leaves a rider begging to have one, especially if that rider is a teenager.
Suzuki hasn’t announced the MSRP for their 2010 RM85 motocrosser just yet, but considering those of the competition ($3,690 for Yamaha and $3,849 for Kawasaki), we reckon the yellow bike will be priced under $4K as well.
One of the greatest starters offer out there, the Suzuki RM85 is not only a filled-with-heritage bike with a sense of racing style, but an arrow towards a successful career in motocross. Many have already been there and stayed with Suzuki, something that determines this manufacturer to keep on doing what it knows best. We can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring.
Engine and Transmission
Type: 2-stroke, liquid-cooled
Bore Stroke: 48.0 mm (1.890 in) x 46.8 mm (1.843 in)
Compression Ratio: 9.5/10.9 : 1
Fuel System: KEIHIN PE28, single
Lubrication: Fuel/oil premixture of 30 : 1
Ignition: Electronic ignition (CDI)
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: D.I.D 428DS, 118 links
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: Telescopic, pneumatic/coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc brake
Brakes Rear: Disc brake
Tires Front: 70/100-17 40M
Tires Rear: 90/100-14 49M
Overall Length: 1805 mm (71.1 in)
Overall Width: 735 mm (28.9 in)
Overall Height: 1100 mm (43.3 in)
Seat Height: 850 mm (33.5 in)
Ground Clearance: 325 mm (12.8 in)
Wheelbase: 1240 mm (48.8 in)
Curb Weight: 73 kg (161 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.0 L (1.3/1.1 US/Imp gal)
Features & Benefits