Rising up: Suzuki’s suspension setup is all new for 2013. Not only does it
have new forks, but also a new rising rate shock linkage.
SETUP SPECS This is how we set up our 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 for racing. We offer it as a guide to help you get your own bike dialed in.
SHOWA SFF FORK SETTINGS Called Showa Separate Function front Forks (SFF), they really should be called Single Spring Forks (SSF), because their most significant feature is that they only have one fork spring (in the right fork leg). These forks have been on the Kawasaki KX250F for several years. You might wonder why Suzuki didn’t go with air forks, like the 2013 KX450F and CRF450. The most likely answer is that Suzuki is a loyal Showa customer, and the Showa air fork is not ready for production use yet—so SFF is the newest thing in their OEM arsenal. The MXA wrecking crew likes the various options that the Showa SFF provides—but we didn’t like these forks in stock trim. For hardcore racing, we recommend this fork setup for the 2013 Suzuki RM- Z450 (stock specs are in parentheses): Spring rate: 1 kg/mm Oil height: 310cc in left leg, 330cc in right leg (350cc stock in right leg) Compression: 15 clicks out ( 9 clicks out) Rebound: 12 clicks out Preload adjuster: 6 clicks in Fork-leg height: 5mm up Notes: The SFF forks don’t work very well off the showroom floor. They come with 350cc of oil in the right leg, while the identical fork on a Kawasaki has 100cc less. Lower oil height helps.
SHOWA SHOCK SETTINGS For hardcore racing, these are MXA’s recommended 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 shock settings: Spring rate: 5. 7 kg/mm Race sag: 100mm Hi-compression: 2 turns out Lo-compression: 12 clicks out Rebound: 12 clicks out Notes: The key to success with the shock is to get the front fork to work. If the fork is wrong, all the load will be handled by the shock. The main goal is to find a balance between the front and rear. The shock starts out in the ball- park, so many shock issues are actually fork issues.
the forks were too harsh in the midstroke, and took out 20cc of fork oil from the right leg only. The SFF forks have issues on the RM-Z450. The rear shock was a little dead feeling, a feeling not helped by the new shock linkage—but perhaps that is the best sensation for a bike with such a hyper-kinetic chassis. We set the sag at 100mm and used the high-speed compression adjuster to set chassis height in motion. We turned it out to lower the rear and turned it in to raise the rear. This is a pressurized ride-height control, and it is important to get the balance of the RM-Z450 correct at speed. Q: WHAT DID WE HATE? A: The hate list: (1) Clutch. There are bikes with bulletproof clutches and bikes with suspect clutches. Which clutch does the RM-Z450 have? It should be in a police lineup. ( 2) Weight. At 242 pounds, the RM-Z450 is about 10 pounds heavier than it should be…but the same can be said for four out of five 450s. ( 3) Overheating. This is the worst cooling system on any motocross bike. Word of warning! Don’t start the bike on the starting line too early—unless you want a swimming pool under your bike. ( 4) Throttle grip. If you want to install an aftermarket grip on the RM-Z450 throttle tube, lots of luck. The stock grip is vulcanized onto the throttle tube. ( 5) Rear brake pedal. It is a very touchy when you try to adjust the pedal downwards–not so bad when raising the pedal upwards. Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE? A: The like list: (1) Handling. It is razor-sharp at low speeds and St. Christopher- medal loose at high speeds. You don’t see very many Suzukis at a desert race. ( 2) Powerband. We like the increase in low-end thrust, the torquier feel and the ability of the engine to thump down low. ( 3) Tires. Bridgestone’s 403/404 tire combo is an MXA favorite. ( 4) Shifting. Kudos to Suzuki for making the bike shift better. Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK? A: If you are thinking of buying a 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 for its horsepower, suspension, clutch or ergos, you are barking up the wrong tree. You buy a Suzuki for its turning prowess…and live with the rest of the package. ;