2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 - FIRST RIDE REVIEW

Apart from revised Holeshot Assist Control, the big RM roosts unchanged into 2016.

2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 off-road action
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450Jeff Allen

Sweeping overhauls to motocross bikes usually come in waves. Manufacturers tend to introduce an all-new model and then follow with minor improvements before unveiling another completely new machine years later. And the Suzuki RM-Z450 is no exception. It has appeared the same since 2008, but it has seen numerous iterations along the way to becoming this new 2016 model.

In 2015, the RM-Z450 was introduced with a new frame and engine, along with Showa SFF-Air suspension. As a package, this RM outperformed the previous model, so it’s no surprise that Suzuki has left the 2016 bike nearly unchanged. Minor tweaks for 2016 include revised mapping for the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control, designed to make the bike more controllable off the line. There’s also a lighter front brake caliper, plus slightly different graphics.

2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 track jumping action
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450Jeff Allen

ON THE TRACK

The new frame and Showa SFF-Air fork of the 2015 RM-Z450 improved the ride and smoothed the harsh feel of the front end while still maintaining Suzuki’s excellent cornering prowess. Since that equipment hasn’t changed for ’16, the new RM performs equally as well. The SFF-Air fork, while challenging to fully understand and set up, works well once dialed in. To smooth the initial portion of the stroke, we added air pressure to the fork and went in on the compression damping for both the fork and shock. These changes allowed the fork to remain in the sweet spot of the stroke and eliminated our problems.

On the scales, the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 is among the heaviest in its class, weighing a claimed 247 lb. But it doesn’t feel that heavy on the track. Turning is excellent, and while the new RM-Z450 remains stable at high speed, this Suzuki feels light and flickable in the air.

2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 static side view
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450Jeff Allen

The liquid-cooled 449cc DOHC single remains one of the strongest and best pulling engines in its class. Right off the bottom, power comes on strong and leads into a healthy top-end pull. Each gear provides a smooth transition to the next without being too short. Suzuki makes available different ignition couplers that can be swapped out, creating three different power curves—lean, rich, and standard.

Lean makes for a harder hit, but we found that the standard setting offers plenty of power. If you’re looking for even more power, though, an aftermarket exhaust should broaden the power delivery while adding to the hit down low and saving a considerable amount of weight. Lastly, the dual Holeshot Assist Control modes work well, with modes to be used when traction is good or when it’s not.

2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 dirt track action
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450Jeff Allen

THE VERDICT

Nothing super significant has changed on the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450, but you can argue that nothing really needed to be fixed. The 2015 bike already was an excellent 450cc motocrosser—it handled well, had plenty of power, and was comfortable for the average rider—so why change a good thing? In the time we’ve spent on the 2016 RM-Z450, we’ve come away pleased. If you liked the 2015 RM, you’ll like the 2016 RM.

UPS:

—Powerful motor has no weak spots

—Good bottom-end hit, progressive top-end pull

—Dual Holeshot Assist Control modes are great for different surfaces

—Easily swapped EFI couplers make a big difference in power delivery

—Showa SFF-Air fork has a wide range of adjustability; works well in most conditions

—Turning is excellent without sacrificing straight-line stability

DOWNS:

—Fork takes a lot of training to properly set up and maintain

—Bike is heavier than most 450s on the market

—Black rear fender is ugly

SPECIFICATIONS
|2016 Suzuki RM-Z450
LIST PRICE|$8749
ENGINE TYPE|DOHC single
BORE x STROKE|96.0 x 62.1mm
DISPLACEMENT|449cc
TRANSMISSION SPEEDS|5
FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL|12.4 in.
REAR WHEEL TRAVEL|12.2 in.
FUEL CAPACITY|1.6 gal.
SEAT HEIGHT|37.6 in.
FRONT BRAKE|disc
REAR BRAKE|disc
CLAIMED WET WEIGHT|247 lb.
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 action.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 static.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 static.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450

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2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 details.Jeff Allen