Riding the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450

Motocross Bike Long Haul Update

2018 Suzuki RM taking a turn
"One of the things I noticed was how much the bike liked to lean in corners, particularly rutted ones." —Michael WickerPete Peterson

Primary use: Motocross

Main Mods: No mods, yet

Moment of Glory: Getting the suspension set up to where I was comfortable.

Forgettable Experience: Some occasional difficult shifting.

Hours: 10

Aftermath: Three air filter cleanings and a lot of bike washes

The 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 is completely redesigned this year with an all-new chassis, a Showa 49mm coil-spring fork and Showa BFRC shock, and a revised engine. These changes looked promising as this bike was very much in need of updates after many years of staying mostly the same. After spending some time on the new RM-Z450, I noticed quite a bit of positives and a few negatives.

2018 Suzuki RM Z450 leaps
"The new Showa fork is a huge improvement as it brings plushness and simplicity back in the bike's setup." —Michael WickerPete Peterson

I made no changes to the bike on my first couple of rides as I wanted to really get a raw perspective of what the Suzuki had to offer in completely stock form as far as comfort, power delivery, and suspension performance go. One of the things I noticed was how much the bike liked to lean in corners, particularly rutted ones. It feels extremely stable throughout the entirety of the corner, and I feel the new chassis design gives this bike excellent straight-line stability in the choppier parts of the track too.

The power, compared to its competitors, is not the best. It’s smooth overall but lacks power in the midrange to top-end. From my first ride on it at San Diego County’s Pala Raceway, I noticed how linear the power delivery is. Although the RM-Z is not the fastest in its class, its power delivery is smooth and controllable, which are two aspects I feel are important to have on a 450. One issue I had with the engine was getting it to shift, especially in the lower gears.

In completely stock form with no clicker changes, the suspension felt really good as it was plusher than most of its competitors. The new Showa fork is a huge improvement as it brings plushness and simplicity back in the bike’s setup. When I began making some clicker changes, I found a comfortable setting very quickly. For the fork, I sped up the rebound two clicks and stiffened the compression three clicks. With these adjustments, the RM-Z450 rode incredibly smooth on rougher tracks like Riverside County’s Cahuilla Creek MX and Pala. The settings allowed the fork to use most of its travel without compromising the bike’s cornering ability. With the stock settings, the Showa BFRC shock was very close to where I was comfortable with it, so I slowed down the rebound, which worked for me at pretty much every track I went to.

2018 Suzuki RM Z450 throwing dirt
"Overall the power is controllable and mellow." —Michael WickerPete Peterson

I played around with the different couplers and even with the aggressive mapping; I still wasn't satisfied with the Suzuki’s engine performance. I really wanted to see a gain in the midrange to top-end, which I expected more from, especially on a 450. The engine doesn’t have the strongest over-rev and is one of the quietest bikes in its class. Overall the power is controllable and mellow, which makes it more suitable for a less aggressive rider.

If I were to make some changes to this bike, I would probably want to try an aftermarket clutch kit to try and fix the shifting issues. Also, to try and get a stronger power delivery, I would like to try some aftermarket cams, an aftermarket pipe, and VP Racing Fuels’ MR12 blend of fuel. In the suspension department, I am impressed with the new Showa units, but for me, lighter springs would have helped give more range to work with.

To sum it up, I was really impressed with the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450. It is a very comfortable bike that handles like a dream, and the new suspension components make the bike a lot simpler and less time consuming to set up. The bike lacks a little on power, but small modifications could fix the power deficiency. Suzuki is progressing more and more every year and I feel this bike is a huge improvement from its predecessors.