We all know that it takes consistency to be successful when it comes to racing. A steady lap time and having confidence in the machine each and every time you go out for practice or a race are definitely things that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z450 has that steady do-what-you-want feel that many of our Dirt Rider testers appreciate. Suzuki went with a BNG year for its 2012 450 four-stroke due to its outstanding performance and impressive results that have been proven at the National level by superstar Ryan Dungey.Cool red accents on the seat cover and bar pad gave the new Zook some style. For 2012, the 450 also received a revised breather hose and a revised fuel pump for a total weight savings of 33.7 grams (1.19 ounces).
Usable power is the name of the game for the RM-Z450, and many of our testers commented that the hit is just where you would want a stock bike to come alive. A cool feature we played around with is the three available ignition couplers (two additional—a rich and a lean setting—including stock). The stock coupler offered great pull from mid to top. Both the lean and rich couplers opened up the bottom-end for some well-liked torque. The rich setting had the most noticeable difference and broadened the entire power curve from top to bottom. Who knew a little plastic plug could do all that?
Upon sitting on the RM-Z450, you notice the comfortable ergos right away. Some things that really stood out for us are how well this bike accelerates in a straight line. When you get on the gas, the bike wants to launch forward in a controlled fashion without any of that silly fishtailing business. The Suzuki excels when it comes to connecting sweeping lines to tight insides or vice versa, so you automatically have plenty of options on the track. If you like to control the bike with the front wheel, you’ll like how the rear end follows the front precisely. And for you rear-wheel-steering guys, the Suzuki 450 does that whole controlled-slide thing very smoothly and has no problem stepping out of line to blow the soft top of a berm into outer space.
There isn’t much excitement with the suspension. We only played with the clickers a bit to try and work out some of our minor issues. A few of us wanted more bottoming resistance, so up went the compression; two clicks in the front and rear. This helped a little, but going any further in that direction messed with the overall handling, which was very good stock. Under acceleration, the rear end handled small chop well and still tracked straight.Are the flashy red colors and minor revisions enough to stay competitive in the 450 world? That remains to be seen. Shootout plans are in the works, so be sure to check back with Dirt Rider to see how this yellow and red combo holds up when we toss it to our testers.