WHY SHOULD THE RM-Z450 WIN THE
Do you think that changing a stripe on the
radiator wing from red to white counts as a
performance mod? We don’t, either. The Suzuki’s
one claim to fame is that it is the best-cornering
bike ever made. The rest of the bike is not bad;
it’s just not outstanding in any area.
WHY SHOULD THE RM-Z450 LOSE THE
The RM-Z has the worst forks on any bike sold
in 2016. You might think, as we did, that Suzuki’s
SFF TAC Air forks would be kissing cousins to
Kawasaki’s TAC forks. Not so. They are different
mechanically and in performance. Every MXA test
rider liked the KX450F’s TAC forks and none liked
Suzuki’s version. The 2016 RM-Z450 is also the
heaviest bike in this shootout, fifth on the horsepower chart, equipped with the worst brakes and
looks like it was designed in 2008.
HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER DOES THE
54. 88 horsepower at 9200 rpm. It makes 36.03
foot-pounds of torque.
WHAT IS THE POWER LIKE?
Every MXA test rider likes this engine, but none
of them love it. The RM-Z450 produces a very
clean-running powerband that works best from
low to mid. It’s not especially fast, but the power
is perfectly placed. It should be noted that at no
point does the RM-Z450 feel like it has more power
than the bikes around it. That’s because it doesn’t.
Why do we forgive Honda for failing to play the
horsepower game but not Suzuki. That’s simple.
Honda did it on purpose. They had a reason for
wanting a slow bike and stated so. We don’t think
Suzuki had such lofty, if misguided, intentions with
the RM-Z450. Just as with the 2016 CRF450, you
can win races on the RM-Z450 while giving up 3 or
more horses—it’s just that Suzuki isn’t holding up
its end of the bargain.
WHAT DOES THE RM-Z450 WEIGH?
240 pounds. The RM-Z450 has been the heaviest
bike for many years. In fact, five years ago it hit
MXA’s scales at 244 pounds.
WHERE DID IT PLACE IN LAST YEAR’S MXA
HOW DOES THE RM-Z450 RATE IN THE
Fifth. And, white stripe or not, Suzuki can’t
expect to improve on last year’s shootout finish
with a bike that has seen no fundamental
Power output: Average. The key to success on
the RM-Z450 is to shift at the perfect spot on the
curve. Where is that spot? 9000 rpm. After 9000
rpm, the RM-Z450 can’t run with horsepower beasts
like the 450SXF, FC450 or YZ450F. If you try to play
the high-rpm game, they will shut you down.
Forks: It’s hard to get past how difficult the TAC
forks are to live with for what turns out to be
average but spiky, performance. They are harsh
in the mid-stroke and get even harsher after that.
Send them out to be re-valved—immediately.
Shock: Suzuki’s shock setup is in the ballpark,
but you’ll never know it until you get the forks
Overall handling: Suzukis have been twitchy
since 1982‚ and Suzuki is proud of it. There is no
doubt that the 2016 RM-Z450 is unsettled at speed,
but you gotta give stability to get great cornering
prowess. The RM-Z450 is at its best in Supercross,
Arenacross or fairground-style tracks. As an outdoor
bike, on a rough track with big bumps and high
speeds, it is busy.
Cornering: Great. If you’ve never been very
Clutch: We think we felt it slip going over the
good at cornering, an RM-Z450 will fix that.
Shifting: We take our time, breathe the engine
and use the clutch.
Brakes: When you build the heaviest bike on
the track, you need powerful brakes. Suzuki’s
brakes are more tricycle than locomotive.
threshold at the dealership.
WHAT WOULD WE CHANGE ON THE
Where to start? We would take the handlebars off
and redesign everything under them.
WHAT’S NEWSWORTHY ON THE RM-Z450?
Suzuki is the only manufacturer with three
launch control settings. Plus, it has three ECU map
plug-ins. Did we mention the white stripe?
THE FINAL WORD?
Senility. This is an old-school bike that saw its
best days back when it still had a Keihin FCR