While the ranking process was hot and heated with regard to the other three machines, never before in our short history has a final outcome been so one-sided. The Z250 earned the first-place nod from all but three of our 10 testers. From beginner to expert, aggressive to casual, its easy-to-use quality and potential to run with the faster quads made it a quick favorite of most.
For one thing, starting was a breeze. Only on the coldest days was the choke needed. We tested at elevations varying from sea level to 4000-plus-foot mountains, and never did the Z complain. Having all the features of the EX didn't hurt, either; electric start, reverse and the autoclutch were a hit for most, and better overall power and suspension put the lid on the competition.
A first impression of the Z is that it's very similar in performance and feeling to the Honda. However, in head-to-head comparisons through various terrain the QuadSport showed itself to be head and shoulders above the other yellow quad. In a worm track complete with whoops and banked, sandy corners, which we found at Ocotillo Wells, the Z handed an ass-kicking to both the EX and the Blaster. Nevertheless, the Kawasaki had the better of it. It is slightly edged by the Mojave in the whoops as well as in the dunes. The Z's wide powerband, while stout, isn't enough to tame the sand.
However, in low-speed riding it's the king. The Z can precisely pick a line through technical terrain while predictably applying torquey power to the ground, staying stable all the while. At increased speeds, it has more stable handling than all but the Mojave, with a slightly bouncy ride like the Honda but better damping.
In fact, like the Mojave, the Suzuki is the only one we felt comfortable on near the limits of its motor. Thanks to good sport tires, the Z sticks to the ground well and composes itself when turning hard. Like the Honda, the Suzuki will let a rider know when it's near its limit, but that limit is quite a bit higher on the Z.
As is true for its big bro, the Z400, all comers are fans. Expert and beginner alike appreciate the capabilities of this easy-to-ride machine, which brings the goods for sport riding as well as learning. We all felt a new rider who started with a Z250 would have a blast trying to outgrow it--and would take a while doing it.
Suzuki QuadSport Z250
+ Easiest to maintain/ride
+ Good all-around performance
- Heavy control feeling
- Total EX copycat
= Power and poise to hang with the big boys
Nicely laid out and stone...
Nicely laid out and stone simple: a handlebar-mounted choke, simple reverse mechanism and smooth finish.
Although bigger and heavier...
Although bigger and heavier than the Honda's powerplant, the Z250 is quite a bit faster. A vacuum-operated petcock means you never have to turn it off.
Although a bit of plushness...
Although a bit of plushness is built into the shocks, an aggressive rider will soon be doing a bit of bouncing around.