Either the more flamboyant new models, like the Kawasaki KX450F, have been stealing the (pardon the pun) limelight, or Suzuki has been keeping a low profile with the 2006 RM-Z450. We honestly didn’t know if the machine was changed enough to be a new model. After the introduction at the fast, fun and rolling Castillo Ranch outdoor track, we can say that the ’06 moto-thumper is much easier to ride fast than the ’05, and a lot more fun.Much of the RM-Z’s first-year sales success lay with accurate steering and easy-to-use power. The ’06 retained the good stuff and added better suspension, improved handling and more effective power.It is difficult to evaluate a bike at a single track—especially if the track is new to you and not very rough. Still, we feel pretty good about the new machine. We did have our 2005 test bike (stock with a Yoshimura pipe) to compare the new bike to. We also accepted a chance to use Mike Kiedrowski’s WORCS racer as a yardstick—it’s doubtful that any ’05 RM-Z would work better for an average guy than MK’s bike. Neither bike worked as well on the Castillo track as the stock ’06.We have no doubt the ’06 will be a strong performer in the class. Despite the improvements and our enthusiasm for the machine, it will take more days, more tracks and a 450cc shootout to know whether Suzuki’s sleeper is the best choice in its class. This should be a very interesting year for 450cc shootouts.