Chad Reed, Ken De Dycker, Steve Ramon, Carl Nunn – can these gentlemen be wrong with their weapons of choice? Team DBR got the invitation to get out and test the 2010 Suzuki RMZ450 recently to find out if the big yellow weapon is every bit as good in the hands of a normal(ish) rider as the top guys make it look week-in, week-out.
The RMZ450 might not look massively different in appearance to the previous year but there have been significant changes made in most departments aimed at improving every area of the already class-leading bike. Let’s take a detailed tour through the improvements…
The engineers at Suzuki HQ have been hard at work developing the DOHC four-valve motor to improve power delivery and increase power through the entire range. They have re-profiled the cams and re-worked the cylinderhead porting to increase the performance as well as improving the camchain tensioner and have developed a new throttle linkage to improve low-speed response from the motor.
The EFI on the RMZ has also come under the development eye to make improvements. The throttle valve movement has been reversed to re-direct the fine fuel-air mist from the 12-hole fuel injector away from the throttle valve for a more even mixture, therefore helping to increase power and throttle response.
The RMZ is shod with Showa units front and back. The suspension has been given revised spring and damping rates to work with other areas of the modified chassis. The forks remain as a 47mm diameter and the shock has high and low-speed compression adjustment as well as rebound control. The rising rate linkage system receives revised link-bearing tolerances to help with precise and sharp handling.
The RMZ twin-spar aluminium frame has undergone a transformation in its rigidity for optimum balance across the chassis. The headstock has a two-piece design which is 9mm taller than the 2009 model. The rear of the frame is now wider to increase rigidity and the upper frame bridge under the seat is also given more width. Material wall thickness has undergone a change to save weight.
There’s a neat little ‘plug in’ which comes with the RMZ450 which lets the rider soften the power from stock to allow the bike to be easily ‘tuned’ for lower grip conditions. No need for a laptop, just plug in and ride smooth.
The bars-to-peg-to-seat dimensions all felt good on the Zooki upon the first mounting of the vehicle. The controls as expected all felt positive and smooth. I was looking forward to the ride and taking my time to get into the track. Starting the bike was super easy and first impressions of the bike were awesome and the rideability from the smooth power delivery made the first few laps on the bike a treat.
The track was smooth and grippy so the power delivery was easy to get a feel for. The roll-on power was predictable and in the heavy going parts of the track the power was able to dig deep to get my largeness up the hills through the deeper mulch. The power is in no way overpowering and this bike is by no means scary in the way it delivers the ponies to the track. Tractability is there for all and throttle control makes for the ease of ride. If you do get a little bit aggressive with the throttle the bike keeps things under control with its delivery through the EFI not allowing things to get too buck wild.
With the motor delivering what is expected of it the chassis balance and feel has to be up to the job. The more rigid feel through the frame is evident and the balance of the Showa suspension therefore has to be set correctly. The rear of the bike was a little low and soft for me through the first part of the test but with a small adjustment to the preload we were making the bike react with great stability and control on the rougher track. Turning off corners where there were no lines was easy and it was good to have the confidence in the bike to search out alternative and fun lines each lap.
Jumping was fun on the bike and its ability in the air far outweighs my ability in the air – balanced and easy would be the words as long as you put your weight in the correct area…
The brakes are superb and offer great feel without feeling aggressive. The clutch required quite a lot of adjustment through the test which I will put down to the motor oil. If the oil is not perfect on any 450 the clutch will get a spongy feel to it and the bike didn’t get a chance to rest for the entire day so it was getting a fair pounding in the motor oil department. The clutch never lost its grip on things but it was the only part of the bike I could point at as a potential weak spot if the wrong motor oil is used.
Time was limited on the day but the bike reacted and gave superbly positive feedback from all departments to make a superb ‘out of the crate’ package. Suzuki have aimed for this with their design and development for this new model and they have certainly put a bike together which every level of rider can get on and enjoy without thinking they will be hanging off the back of the puppy like a flag!
This 450 really is made for use from the top to the bottom of the rider scale as hobby riders will get as much from it as the Chads, Kens, Steves and Carls of this world. Good work Suzuki…
Bore and stroke: 96mm x 62.1mm
Fuel tank capacity: 6.2 litres
Front suspension: Showa 47mm
Rear suspension: Showa
Seat height: 955mm
Ground clearance: 325mm
Kerb weight: 113kg