2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 - First Impression

New Year Same Attitude

If the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 looks a lot like the 2015 version, you will be correct. In fact, there are only two changes made to the 2016 RM-Z450. The front brake caliper has been reduced down 10% for 2016, to decrease a little unwanted weight and the second update is to the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC). The S-HAC has been changed (with ignition and fuel mapping updates) to try and improve traction on starts. A-Mode for hard surfaces or slippery conditions; the S-HAC alters the ignition timing at the moment of the launch to get over the starting gate to reduce wheel spin. The ignition will return to normal mapping after 1.2 seconds or when rider clicks into third gear. B-Mode is for when conditions are tacky and grippy for when a more aggressive launch is desired. The S-HAC will advance the ignition timing to allow increased throttle response and stronger acceleration off the line. The ignition will return to normal operation after 4.5 seconds, or when rider shifts to fourth, or when the throttle is completely closed, whichever happens first. Those are the only two changes made to the 2016 RM-Z450 model. Most of the changes made by Suzuki for 2016 were focused to the 250F machine, which we will not see until middle September.

Engine:

As expected the 2016 engine character is just like the 2015 version. The RM-Z450 has a smooth roll on power delivery with great controlled pulling power. The mid range pulls far and is very useable around the track. Top end and over-rev is on the short side so short shifting is a must. The good news is that the Suzuki’s engine will pull a taller gear fairly well. Second gear is on the short side however and will require you to shift in a hurry out of corners. At Milestone MX Park the track is tighter and we felt that second gear could have been stretched out a little farther, but third gear worked the best even in tighter hard pack corners. We did experience a rich feeling down in low rpm circumstances out of corners, so we opted to go with the leaner coupler and that seemed to help the Suzuki’s dirty feeling down low.

Chassis:

When Suzuki updated the 2015 frame we were thankful for the newfound comfort from the chassis around the track. The 2016 RM-Z450 still has a slightly rigid feeling around the track compared to other 2016 machines we have tested so far, but the chassis is very precise and quick handling on tighter tracks. Straight-line stability is not the best in class but is predictable enough to give you confidence. If you want a bike to corner than look no further than the 16 RM-Z450. The Suzuki can carve an inside line incredibly well and feels light around the track. If you take the RM-Z450 off of the stand you will not think this bike is light, (and it’s not as it hovers around 250 pounds) but around the track the yellow bomber is flickable and handles sudden line changes by the rider impressively.

Suspension:

Since there are no changes to the Showa SFF Triple Air Chamber fork for 16, we ended up with our best 2015 settings. We went to 181 psi on the inner chamber, 181 psi on the balance chamber and an atmospheric pressure to the outer chamber (or zero psi). With this setting the fork holds up better under heavy braking and helps the compliance on acceleration bumps on the initial part of the stroke. We stuck with a 105mm of rider sag on the shock and slowed the rebound down two clicks (aka the “Nick Wey”) to help the rear end settle coming into corners. We also tried going in a half a turn in on high-speed compression at Milestone to help hold the rear end up when hitting jump faces. With the combination of these adjustments, this was our “happy” suspension settings that gave the bike a more balanced feeling around the track on this day.

Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC):

We did more than a few starts with the 2015 and 2016 models in each mode and we did notice a slight change in one of the two specific modes. We noticed more of a difference in "A" mode (hard or slippery conditions), as the 2015 felt like it had more wheel spin and less traction 20 feet out of the gate. The 2016 felt slightly more controlled and gave us a straighter jump off the gate (or more forward bite) to the first corner. It was hard to tell any difference in "B" mode, as the track we tested at was more on the hard pack side. We will be trying the S-HAC at more tracks with increased traction so check back to the November issue of Dirt Rider Magazine for more information.

We would of have liked to seen some more updates to the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 but we are not disappointed with its performance on the track. The smooth easy to ride engine character, along with decent suspension, and a chassis that inspires confidence through the corners, we are not complaining too much. Yet. In the motocross development world we know the longer you wait, the farther you fall behind. Suzuki needs to start improving on what they have. Not sit on what they know.