Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

The Bike – 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

The 2018 Suzuki RM-Z 450 arrived to a lot of fanfare.  After a very long production run of almost 13 years, the old RM-Z was due for an overhaul.  And overhaul they did. There’s not really anything from the old RM-Z on this version. Suzuki clearly started with a blank sheet of paper and started anew.

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.

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

Like any brand new model, the team at Krooztune like to get their hands on one, preferably over an extended period of time to flesh out a handling spec that works for a wide range of riders.  So, after acquiring one, we got to work.

What’s new?

As mentioned before, everything.  New plastics, tank, frame, motor and of course, all new Showa suspension, from the all-new ‘road race’ style shock, to the forks that were A-kit spec from not long ago.  It’s a great looking bike, very modern looking, flat to sit on, and everything falls to hand nicely. It feels like a quality Japanese bike as you’d expect. Unfortunately, Suzuki have bypassed the electric start option which is becoming all too common on motocross machines.  The scales say this is the heaviest 450, but it by no means feels like it. You could argue that the YZ450F or KX450F have a bulkier feel.

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

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:

Shock

  • High rear end
  • Stiff and harsh but extremely soft
  • Inconsistent shock action

Forks

  • 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?

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

The Fix

After stripping the shock down and testing in the shop we found these sharp fast hits simply overcome the standard valving and piston setup.  Aside from the shock action front and rear, it’s really obvious straight away there is a very big front-to-rear balance problem that needs sorting first and foremost.

Here’s what we came up with:

Shock

  • Krooztune Balance shaft kit to suit BFRC shock $395 includes complete shock shaft, piston and shim stack/setting installed ready to be fitted by a suspension guy. Shim Setting available in 4 options   OFFROAD / C GRADE -Vet / B – Vet / Pro
  • Adjustable KROOZR linkage.  +1,2,3,4 mm over the std 136mm arm . We settled on +1mm for most applications.
  • Softer shock spring for riders under 85kg
  • Maxima Zero fade 3W oil
  • RESULT – Zero wallow, plusher ride thru the braking bumps, great stability and turn in, super adjustable

 

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Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450
Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

Forks

  • Simple Revalve to soften compression action to take away harsh chatter
  • Increase in oil volume to stop the dive and increase compression deep in the stroke
  • After lowering the rear it was only natural the forks got harder without all the weight pushing on them all the time.  A Simple revalve fixed this and these forks came up a treat. A hard but soft fork. Easily tuned with big changes thru the clicker.  Handy and worthwhile. We’ll say it again, we love these new 49mm Showa forks. These are A-kit for the weekend warrior and are far more tuneable on the fly than the legendary (but getting long in the tooth) KYB SSS.

Out on the track

Our first feeling riding the Krooztune RMZ kit is the flat feel front to rear.   The rear is sitting more ‘normal’ now thanks to a longer linkage arm (+1mm) and the softer spring to suit our testers average ride weight at 85kg.  The shock has some initial give in it, right up there with Yamaha and Honda.

Out on the track, hitting the deep holes and rolling whoops it’s immediately obvious the shock is holding up in the stroke.  This characteristic was a no brainer and every tester noticed this straight up. Even our guys, (and even interested bystanders) noticed this from the trackside, it’s clear to see the difference.  The extreme moving, soft ‘up and down’ action is gone. Under brakes the shock has good feel and is easily tuned through the adjusters whichever way you need.

After a simple revalve, the forks are vastly more adjustable.  Just dial in the comp until you feel the hard chatter coming on and then back it off a click or two.  The compression adjuster is very effective on this fork. Forks still feel too hard? Click it out 3 clicks, problem solved without a further revalve. We vary from 9 clicks out to 12 for a softer action on our bike.

Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450
Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

The Result?

Zero wallow, plusher ride thru the braking bumps, great stability (no more shopping trolley!) and turn in.  And as a bonus, this modern suspension is super adjustable. This vastly improved suspension, in conjunction with that great motor and ergos, make the Suzuki a really predictable and great handling bike.  As one of our testers noted, “Imagine if it came from the factory like this? They’d clean up!” It really is that much better.

With our kit installed, here’s some good starting points and setup tips:

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RMZ Shock

  • We settled at 2 turns out rebound / 2 turns out comp for a stiff setting with our kit matched at 104-5mm ride sag.
  • We set to 2.25 turns out on rebound and 2.5-3 turns out comp for a more comfort ride on a chopped out track.  Great changes, once again easily noticed and tuneable.
  • KroozR linkage set to the 1mm option.
  • Sag set at 104-105mm / 40mm static/free sag

The rebound is easily adjusted with this system and the biggest benefit with rebound adjustment from the BFRC shock is it is completely separate from the compression adjuster and doesn’t make your shock harder when you increase rebound damping!  Super easy to dial in with the base setting supplied. Simple!

The Forks

  • Fork tube height at 3 mm in sand and at 1 line thru on hard pack.
  • When running 2mm link option we near always ran the fork tube height at the 1st line/5mm
  • Comp we normally have a 5 click window we were happy living in.  We settled between 8-13 clicks out varying track to track. Rebound, we left untouched after a setup.
Tested: 2018 Suzuki RMZ450

Buy the full Krooztune kit here

Zero rear wallow (soft sponge action), plusher ride thru the braking bumps, great stability and turn in, super adjustable. This linkage and shock mod balances the bike front to rear making it much more stable at high speeds, into high speed ‘G outs’  and turning thru long fast sweepers is a breeze.

Buy the kit from our store

$20 Flat Shipping within Australia

Flat wordlwide shipping rate of $45 international DHL shipping Worldwide –  $60 for SFF kits. Most deliveries shipping to USA/Canada/UK in 3 – 4 days.

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