s the RM-Z450 fast? Not in
the traditional sense. It has
a classic low-to-mid power-
band that requires the rider to
shift at peak and avoid trying to
rev the engine out. Don’t be
mistaken; it will rev way past
8500 rpm, but it will actually be
losing power as the rpm climb.
But, speed is not what the
RM-Z450 is all about.
There are bikes that are good
at everything, bikes that are bad at everything, and bikes
that are good at one thing. No one will ever say that the
2014 Suzuki RM-Z450 is the fastest, best-suspended or
best-equipped bike on the track—but no one can deny
that the RM-Z450 is the best-turning bike made.
Handling. Nothing corners like a Suzuki. There is
something magical in the RM-Z’s head angle, fork offset
and weight bias that allows it to go where no other
Powerband. Although not a powermonger, the 2014
RM-Z50 has a very competitive low-to-mid engine that is
effective, as long as you don’t try to rev it.
Single-Fire ignition. Suzuki’s Single-Fire ignition
doesn’t really add anything to the performance of the
bike and it didn’t seem to make it any easier to start. It
needs a full kick from the top of the stroke.
Plug-in couplers. The RM-Z450 comes with three
plug-in couplers. They allow RM-Z450 owners to change
the powerband in a few seconds.
Handling. Yes, we know that we praised the
handling a few paragraphs earlier, but don’t confuse the
Suzuki’s cornering ability with its straight-line stability.
At speed, over rough ground and in choppy terrain, the
Suzuki is busy. Very busy.
Clutch. It’s spongy on the showroom floor.
Weight. It is the heaviest bike in the class.
Overheating. Run a high-pressure radiator cap,
because the RM-Z boils quickly.
Forks. The Showa SSF forks on the RM-Z450 are
actually anti-forks. They are the worst forks we have ever
tested. On second thought, we take that back; they are
no worse than the 2013 RM-Z450 forks—and no better.
BEST SUSPENSION SETTINGS?
Forks. These are MXA’s recommended 2014 Suzuki
RM-Z450 fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 1.00 kg/mm
Oil height: 310cc in left leg, 350cc in right leg
Compression: 15 clicks out ( 9 clicks out)
Rebound: 12 clicks out
Preload adjuster: All in (clockwise)
Fork-leg height: Flush with top clamp
Notes: Do yourself a favor and send these forks out
to be re-valved. If you must run them stock, turn the
preload adjuster in all the way.
Shock. These are MXA’s recommended 2014
Suzuki RM-Z450 shock settings (stock settings are in
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 rear shock has a dead feeling, 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 adjust
chassis height in motion.
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking
crew changed on the 2014 Suzuki RM-Z450.
(1) We ran the white plug-in coupler.
( 2) We sent the forks to Pro Circuit to have them
re-valved to lessen the mid-stroke harshness.
( 3) We ran a high-pressure radiator cap.
( 4) We installed stiffer clutch springs.
( 5) If you want to install aftermarket grips on the
RM-Z450 throttle tube, lots of luck. The stock grip is
vulcanized onto the throttle tube. We replaced it with
an aluminum throttle tube.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The RM-Z450 has both a finesse engine and a lithe
chassis that is perfect for Novice and Vet riders.
MXA RODE TEST