2016 Suzuki RM-Z450, Long Haul Update

We check in with test rider Ricky Yorks on how our 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 long haul bike is doing.

Primary Use: Local motocross tracks with the occasional hot lap on the SX track before arm pump kicks in or my talent runs out. (Whichever comes first)

Moment of Glory: Watching Dirt Rider test rider Nick Evennou crank some big whips at the Metal Mulisha Freestyle compound on the bike (box stock).

Forgettable Experience: Riding Glen Helen late in the day on a Thursday open practice. The 2016 RM-Z450 has some great handling traits, but rough and beat up tracks are not the bikes specialty.

Hours: 30

Aftermath: I received the bike from fellow test rider Nick Evennou at the 20-hour mark. In the next 10 hours I went through two oil filters, one new Dunlop MX32 rear tire, set of Pro Taper Evo handlebars (Kevin Windham bend), I rotated three pre-oiled Twin Air filters, and used two quarts of Bel Ray Thumper Racing Oil (the stock chain guide was also worn out and replaced at the 20 hour mark.)

Ricky Yorks on 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 long haul bike
The RM-Z450 bike really works well on a smooth track with big jumps.Photo by Casey Schneid

Since its introduction, The Suzuki RM-Z450 has often been praised for its quick steering, smooth motor, and agile handling on the track. Fast-forward to the 2016 Dirt Rider 450 MX shootout, and the big yellow RM-Z 450 still holds the trophy as one of our favorite bikes to lay over into a corner. Where the bike shines in tight corners, it struggles in high-speed stability. One of the quick and simple fixes was to lower the forks flush in the clamps and run a hair more sag. Suzuki recommends 105mm, but I felt more comfortable with 107-108mm. This didn’t alter the Suzuki’s cornering that much so I stuck with the lower rear end.

The more time I spent on the Suzuki, the more I grew to like the 16 RM-Z450. As a racer, I typically ride the outside lines and try to keep my momentum up. On the Suzuki, I found myself riding tighter inside lines and being able to square up corners much easier than some of the other bikes. This bike really works well on a smooth track with big jumps. The chassis is stiff which makes the Suzuki jump extremely well and of course corner like a hero. I have found that the forks are easy to tune for the hard hits and G-outs, however as the track breaks down and gets braking bumps, the RM-Z’s fork is much harder to dial in. The RM-Z feels soft with the stock inner and outer air pressures, or it’s overly stiff when more air is added. The added air eliminates the bottoming, but then has a tendency to feel harsh on the little acceleration bumps. I always end up playing around with the Showa TAC Air fork at every track I test/ride. Typically running around 175-180psi in the inner and balance chamber and anywhere from 5-10 psi in the outer chamber gets me to a compromisable, happy spot.

Ricky Yorks on 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 long haul bike
The RM-Z450 gives riders the confidence to shred any berm on the track. Stay tuned for the next Long Haul update as we get the suspension re-valved to improve its straight-line stability.Photo by Casey Schneid

As far as durability, the bike has held up great so far. I check the spokes every ride, mainly out of habit and change the air filter religiously for cheap insurance. The rear chain guide wore out at 20 hours and I am not a huge fan of the stock O-ring chain for motocross (It’s heavy and causes a lot of drag compared to a normal chain). Besides that, I have changed the engine oil three times and one went through one Dunlop MX32 rear tire. Nothing out of character for a bike that’s been ridden hard by a handful of different pro test riders. The bike has a good engine character that is fast, yet smooth and easy to ride. My only real complaint on the Suzuki is the rigid frame feeling and front fork. The next mods for the bike will be sending the suspension out to be re-valved, to see if we can fix some of these issues as well as bolting on an exhaust. Overall, the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 is a good bike, but stay tuned to see if we can make it even better.

Ricky Yorks on 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 long haul bike
The 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 although heavy on the scales, feels light in the air. Ricky Yorks demonstrates.Photo by Casey Schneid