So how does it ride in stock form?
The first thing you will notice with the RMZ is the ability to turn on a dime. This bike turns and ‘turns in’ better than any bike we have ridden. You even sniff an inside rut, and this bike will find it. The opposite can be said for its high speed stability.
The high-feeling rear end puts too much weight on the front end, the result being an extremely unstable “shopping trolley-like” ride on anything above 3rd gear. This lack of stability only serves to unnerve the rider and does not inspire confidence! The forks are firm and chattery and a little divey especially with the oem high rear! But that said, the forks are by no means bad. The shock, however, wallows on low speed (shock shaft speed) rollers like sand whoops.
Then, when you transition into fast braking bumps it really is hard to tell what is going on. We can only describe this behaviour as a super-soft feeling on the sandy whoops (laying black strips of tyre rubber under the rear guard!) with an extreme “blown shock” feel. Then on sharp hits, there’s a hard, harsh, inconsistent feel. It’s clear that the rear end of this bike needed serious work to bring it back to the pack.
Now, that covers the suspension.
The one massive positive about this bike is it’s motor. It’s a gem. This is not Yamaha ‘scare anyone who isn’t pro’ power. This is the 450 tractor that everyone can go fast on.
You dial in how much power you want with the right hand, and it gives it to you in a big, fat spread of tractable power. It really is a great engine that is both fast enough to be competitive, but will be your friend at the same time when it’s late in the moto and you’re making a few mistakes.
In summary, here’s a brief synopsis of the RMZ’s standard suspension characteristics:
- High rear end
- Stiff and harsh but extremely soft
- Inconsistent shock action
- Hard initial action, chattery on braking bumps
- A little divey
- Super adjustable (comp clicker makes huge changes – a real bonus!)
So after scaring ourselves silly, what did we do to unlock the great bike hiding in there?