2017 Suzuki RM-Z 450 first impressions

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Thanks to Suzuki Australia, we had the opportunity to head to the Echo Valley Motocross track in Toowoomba Queensland to ride the 2017 edition of the Suzuki RM-Z 450.

The Suzuki RM-Z 450 has long had a reputation as being one of the most consistent handling and most respected race bikes amongst many top riders from around the world.

It is a machine that has won many titles since it was first spied at the all Japanese Championship back in last 2003.

The likes of Ricky Charmichale, Chad Reed in the U.S, Matt Moss in Australia have all taken the bike to numerous Supercross and Motocross race wins and championship titles along the way. And most recently Ken Roczen dominated the 2016 American Motocross Championship on his RCH Suzuki RM-Z450.

In fact, Suzuki Australia's marketing Coordinator Matt Reilly spent some time leading up-to the Queensland launch going back over the record books to see just how the Yellow 450 four-stroke machine stacked up against the competition and worked out that the Suzuki RM-Z 450 since 2005 had more individual overall round and race wins in total across the American Motocross Championships, the MXGP, the MX Nationals, Australian Supercross championship and the AMA Supercross championship than any other bike with a total of 164 total wins collecting 13 championships along the way!

It is an impressive stat for a bike that has a reputation of being unchanged since 2008! Though we know despite having quite a similar overall appearance, the machine itself has had many updates since 2008 as Suzuki focused on refining a very well balanced package, with a host of changes to the frame and geomentry of the bike, gearbox, engine and suspension package along the way.

Now as we know and everybody for the most part would have read by now, the 2017 edition of Suzuki's 450 motocross machine has received no technical updates for this year and apart from the updated launch control system that was introduced in 2016 the bike is pretty much identical to the 2015 model that I have had as my own personal bike for the past 18 months.
Despite what some people say, the Suzuki RM-Z 450 has seen some big changed along the way to keep it at the top of the racing field all around the world.
For the latest offering from Suzuki the company have focused on giving their bike a fresh new look for the upcoming year, with the addition of Black excel rims replacing the standard silver rims along with Black triple clamps and fork caps along with a black rear shock spring to tie the new look all together.

In addition the seat cover now has a yellow top to accompany the new graphics and plastics for 2017 which sees the bike now come standard with a yellow rear fender and black side number plates.

Overall it the new cosmetic updates have given the bike a fresh look for 2017 that I personally quite like.

On track the Suzuki RM-Z 450 is a machine I am more than a little familiar with, and while I have spent the past 18 months on pretty much an identical bike it was still nice to get back on a completely stock, brand new bike and get a feel of what it was like fresh out of the crate.

For myself the Suzuki has always been a comfortable bike in stock form and even going back to the stock Renthal bars, stock levers, brake pedal, clutch lever and foot-pegs, I felt at home on the bike rolling out onto the Toowoomba track for the first time.

To be honest there is not much more I can say about the performance of this bike that I have not written before. While the bike has a reputation for being an "OLD" the small refinements that Suzuki have made to their 450 machine over the past 9 years has it sitting as one of the most comfortable, predictable, well balanced bikes on the market.

Sure on the scales it may carry a little more weight the its competition, but it is certainly not noticeable out on track. The RM-Z450 still has one of the lightest turn feelings you will find on any bike when tipping into a corner. Wether you want to hit a inside rut or rail the outside of a berm you know the Yellow 450 is going to comply with every input you give the bike in an instant.

The power delivery has not changed over the past couple of years and again there is good reason. Any modern day 450 has more than enough power for the average joe, like myself on a Motocross track.
If you are looking for a rock solid all round bike that turns in like no other, the Suzuki RM-Z 450 is hard to look past.
The one thing I did notice at Toowoomba was just haw snappy the RM-Z was for myself with the stock gearing in place. For the past 12 months I have been running a 48 tooth rear sprocket on my 2015 model. I moved to the 48 rear tooth for Hattah in 2016 and then left it on for a motocross race the following week when returning home.

For myself it helped not only smooth out the power from the bottom, but made a big difference in getting the bike off the start line consistently. Spending the day back with the standard 51 Tooth sprocket it reminded my just how lively the bike can be down low. Not that it is arm ripping aggressive, especially not with my 100kg frame on board, but there is more than enough power to kick the heart rate up a beat or two when twisting it on out of a turn.

Speaking off starts, the one thing that had changed from my 2015 Model to the new 17 RM-Z450 is the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control.

The 15 Model had the first edition of the SHAC, which I found more than helpful especially when combined with a SCAR fork guard mounted launch control button and the taller gearing. Getting off the start line was easier than it has every been.

The older version of the SHAC was pretty basic, adavaning or retarding the the timing off the start line for set period of time after you launch or until you changed gear.

The newer version again comes with the two option start modes, with the first mode designed for lower traction starts. The system will retard the timing both as you launch and while traveling out of the gate to help reduce wheel spin before the timing is automatically advanced as you roll on othe power and the rear wheel hooks up.

The second mode designed for high traction, deep loam dirt starts works by advancing the timing across the board until you are ready to click gears down the start straight.

I tried a couple of practice starts using the first mode, it is the mode I always start with on my own bike and with the power of the 450, the only option I have found helpful in any starting situation. The newer model of the SHAC certainly does have a slightly different characteristic to the original version and you can feel the bike ramp up as you get out of the gate and hard on the power with no noticeable flat line forcing you to shift up a gear.

The comparison while noticeable is not a true comparison however, as without the addition of the same gearing and the fork guard mounted Holeshot button it is not 100% the same, though I have a feeling adding the new edition of the SHAC to my current set up would only benefit my starts even further.
The second generation Suzuki Holeshot Assist certainly helps getting out of the gate.
Suspension wise Suzuki has stayed with the Showa SFF Air fork, with the only difference front and rear on the bike being the new black coating on the rear shock and triple clamps.

The Showa SFF Air fork is a fork that I have slowly come around to. Getting a good feel for a bikes suspension at any media launch is always hard as the tracks are normally well prepared with minimal braking and accelerating bumps forming during the day. For the day at Toowoomba I left the fork in its complete stock setting with 171 psi in the inner chamber, Zero psi in the outer and 171 Psi in the outer.

On a perfectly flat track the setting is fine, the bike was predictable, and will soak up any short landings, something I specialise in!

For myself on the day tt was also a little difficult to get a good feel for how things were going due to being on the back end of a three week bout of the flu, I could pretty much put in one lap at a time, so it was hard to get into any real flow.

Using the fork over the past 18 months it is a fork that I have found to work extremely well on the bigger bumps and in the sand, and with a bit of work and playing around over the past 12 months I have managed to get the front end to feel more compliant over the smaller chattery hard pack bumps that form both into and out of corners.

The biggest thing I have found with the Show SFF Air fork is that you have to try not to over think it and try not to play around with the settings to much, especially the air pressures. The combinations and adjustability of the fork itself are pretty much endless, which can be overwhelming for the average bloke including myself.

Try to think of it in simpler terms.

The inner air chamber is identical to a spring in a conventional fork. Like you would do with a spring fork, find the spring rate, which in this case is the air pressure that is suited to your weight and leave it.

Play around a little with the Balance chamber which for the most part helps to control the mid to bottom part of the stroke. Increase thepressue for more bottoming resistance.

The outer chamber basically controls the intitial part of the stroke. If you want a softer initial part of the stroke to try and help with the small chattery bumps run a higher balance pressure compared to inner chamber. If you are looking to stiffen up the initial part of the storke and help keep the front end little higher in the stroke as you start to brake or tip into a corner, run a little less pressure in the balance compared to the inner chamber.

Again try not to get to lost in the air pressuers, find and stick with something that feels as good as possible all round and run with it every time your ride, then use the preload and rebound clickers to fine tune to suit your needs on race day or at the track on a practice day.
Head to to find your local Suzuki dealership to check out the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z 450 first hand.
Now I am sure there are many suspension tuners out there that may cringe at my basic look at the Showa SFF Air fork, but at the end of the day, I like most average blokes out there want to rock up to a track, roll the bike of the trailer or ute and start cutting laps. The SFF Air Fork can be easy to loose yourself in, try to make it as basic as possible and not play around with it to much.

As a good mate told me, you would not rock up to a track and each weekend and change the springs in your suspension, so why continuously play around with air pressures!

The big advantage of the Air fork is, you don’t have to go spending money on a new fork spring once purchasing the bike, the inner air chamber can be adjusted with air, which until the government finds a way to charge us for it, is still free! The other advantage comes into play when you spend the winter months eating doughnuts and put on 10 or more kg or go on a massive health kick and loose 10kg or more, it is much cheaper to add or drop a little air out the inner air chamber than spend cash on a new spring.

Overall the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z 450 is a great bike, yes I might be a little biased as I have spent a couple of years now aboard a Suzuki 450, but they really are a proven bike that is well balanced, super easy to turn with more than enough power for 99% of the worlds population in stock form.

The bike for 2017 continues to come with the all the great standard features including the Rich and Lean fuel couplers which are more than handy especially in Australia where the air temperature can vary so much from summer to winter, the stock aluminium fuel tank, Renthal FatBars, with rubber mounted bar clamps Tool-less throttle cable adjustment, FEM analaysis piston design and DLC piston pin, gripper seat cover, O-ring chain which is a must for any modern four-stroke if you don't want to adjust your chain after every second lap!

Add that to the addition of the black wheels and triple clamps and the bike staying the same price again for 2017 at $10,999 RRP, the Suzuki RM-Z 450 is a great all round package that will suit the majority of riders out there in stock form.

To check out a full gallery from the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z 450 launch CLICK HERE

For more technical detail and to find the nearest dealership to check out the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z450 first hand for yourself CLICK HERE

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