If you've clicked on this bike test you've likely already seen our Suzuki RM-Z250 review as well, which featured a bike with minimal changes. Well, we are here to report to you that like its little brother, the RM-Z450 also received only minor updates.
Since its introduction, the current design of the RM-Z450 has been not only a proven winner on the race track, but also a favorite among our staff for it's agile handling and solid engine package. After receiving a laundry list of improvements in 2013, including updates to the engine and transmission as well as the addition of the innovative Showa Separate Function Fork, the 2014 model has only been granted three new updates—bold new graphics, yellow side panels, and a new setting to the ECM to aid in starting and reduce kickback of the kickstarter. Yes, it's by and large the same bike as last year, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
ON THE TRACK
This is one of the best handling bikes in the class. The combination of the suspension and solid chassis set up yields a bike that turns on a dime under any circumstance. In deep ruts the bike remains planted and tracks straight, while it also inspires confidence in big berms, as the front end doesn't push or knife. Down fast straights, the bike remains stable, however, the front end is a little nervous over sharp braking bumps, but it isn't something that can't be fixed with clicker adjustments. The SFF fork offers a vast array of adjustability and the spring rate can be changed with a turn of a wrench, stiffening or softening depending on track conditions or rider preference. Throughout our year of testing the 2013 model, we found that the suspension becomes tired and softens up over time. While the SFF fork feels stiff at first, it does break in, requiring a few more clicks on the spring preload. Lastly, adding to the suspension and chassis are comfortable ergonomics that fit riders of nearly any size or stature.
Complementing the stellar chassis and suspension is an equally as impressive engine. Right from the initial crack of the throttle, the RM-Z rips. The bike has a healthy hit right off the bottom that then leads into a strong midrange and top-end pull. Of all the 450cc four-strokes, the RM-Z revs out very far while still producing power. There really isn't a downfall in the power anywhere, and through the course of testing the 2013 model—which is the same as the 2014—we found that just an exhaust system adds enough power for just about anyone. When the fast, free-revving engine is combined with the chassis and suspension, the bike has a very light feel, making it easy to throw around both in the air and in turns.
As you would expect, the 2014 RM-Z450 is another excellent machine. With little to no changes done to it, we aren't disappointed. Last year the bike received a laundry list of updates, producing a bike that won our annual TransWorld Motocross 450cc Four-Stroke Shootout, and for once it's nice to know that a good thing was left well enough alone. Stay tuned for our shootout in a few weeks; it's definitely going to be interesting.