Initial Impression: 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450

2015 + Yellow = Air

 


By Kris Keefer


Pictures by Adam Campbell

 

Suzuki simply released their 2015 RM-Z450 to Dirt Rider Magazine out at Zaca Station MX. In 2014, the particular Suzuki got knocked in our 450 MX Shootout for a rigid feeling chassis that was unforgiving on rougher harder packed tracks. With almost zero changes from 2013 to 2014, the 2015 Suzuki brings with it some changes to the motor and chassis, and of course the new Showa SFF TAC Air Fork. With the first day of riding down let us give you a brief first impression of what we think and learned about the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450.

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 right side view The list of changes on 2015 include the Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control (S-HAC) that is a selectable launch mode system that helps the rider choose how he or she wants the bike to come off the starting gate. There are three modes so riders can choose the best option for their skill level and using conditions. Mode A is for difficult surfaces or less than ideal situations at the starting gate and to trigger you hold down the S-HAC switch for more than 0. 7 second. Mode M is for when there is better traction as well as a more aggressive launch is needed and you simply hold down the S-HAC switch for more than 1 . 8 seconds. The Showa SFF-Air fork finds its method on the RM-Z450 in 2015 too. The SFF Air fork is an evolution of the SFF system with no coil spring, reduced weight, improved inner tube diameter, and improved damper rod/piston size. The SFF-Air has three chambers and cyclists can change the spring rate with an air pump instead of changing out coil springs. Engine start has been improved having a longer kick-starter lever for easier operation, a redesigned kick drive gear, a relocated kick nonproductive gear, a newly added rest gear, and a redesigned decompression program that is claimed to work more specifically and efficiently. A redesigned body is said to increase comfort and decreases weight by 4 percent from the previous model. Cooling performance continues to be enhanced with the radiator hose link being changed from a T-shaped to some Y-shaped design for more equal water flow between left and right radiators. Water flow is also increased by sixteen percent with a redesigned water pump cover and the water hose is now straight connected to the water pump. Finally, a brand new revised gearshift cam for a a lot more precise operation.

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 left side view

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 air fork Enough with all the details! How did it work on the first day of testing? Once we rolled out onto the track we immediately noticed that the Suzuki felt more compliant (or a lot more forgiving) on slap down landings and on bump absorption. The biggest issue we had with the 2014 RM-Z450 is that the frame was rigid plus unforgiving out on the track as soon as bumps started to form. Well with all the 2015, overall bike comfort has improved. The Suzuki will now settle into corners better and has much less feedback through the frame; this is the majority of noticeable on long straights along with square edges. Cornering the Yellow steed is just as good as the 2014 and every tester praised how nicely they could just let the bike fall under any rut they preferred. As you might have read by now the new Showa SFF Air Fork is being utilized by most manufacturers and Suzuki is no different. If you haven’t read up on the brand new Showa SFF Air Fork you might want to check out and learn more about the shell here: (http://www.dirtrider.com/features/2015-kawasaki-kx450f-first-test/), as well as our description video of the new fork (http://www.dirtrider.com/features/showa-separate-function-triple-chamber-air-fork-explained/). Zaca Station was a good place to test the new fork as it obtained rough and formed big braking system bumps on our day of testing. Suzuki’s stock setting with the Showa SFF Air is a little different than Kawasaki’s. Suzuki sets the inner surroundings chamber at 174 psi, the balance chamber at 174 psi, and the outer chamber at atmospheric stress. We noticed that the fork decreased in the stroke more than we wanted on de-cel, creating a harsh feeling on braking bumps. We added air to the inner chamber (188 psi to hold the fork up in the stroke) and this helped comfort and ease under heavy braking. After that alter, we noticed on acceleration bumps (where the fork is lighting or near the top of its stroke) the fork had some deflection. We then added air to the balance chamber (180 psi) to make the initial part of the stroke move more freely. Once both of those changes had been made we felt a drastic improvement out on the track with the stability of the Suzuki. The fork stayed up in the stroke on tough choppy down-hills but coming out of the particular corners the fork had a lot more comfort and didn’t deflect. After getting to know the Showa SFF Atmosphere Fork we have come to love the wide range of adjustability the fork has. All of us ran 105mm of sag over the shock and only had to slow the particular rebound down a couple clicks to get it to settle more in edges. More of our time was focused on the front end on this day.

2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 Air Fork

When compared to 2014 RM-Z450 the new 2015 model feels like it has slightly less throttle response and excitement right whenever you crack the throttle but draws slightly harder out of corners up through the mid range. This is not a huge change but noticeable enough that our testers mentioned felt it. The particular engine character is described as “controlled” with a linear feel to it. This won’t rip your arms out of their sockets but it will pull you out of soft corners in a hurry. In other words, it hooks up well. 2nd gear is on the short side and will require you to shift in a hurry out of corners. Top-end is still lacking several luster and if you don’t shift the RM-Z450 your lap periods will suffer. With not a ton of over-rev the Suzuki required us to use a taller gear around Zaca Station, which is a fast, flowing, loamy track with hills. We do notice that the bike felt wealthy through the mid- to top-end. All of us tried Suzuki’s optional leaner coupler and this helped clean up the wealthy feeling that we felt throughout the day.

 

The particular Holeshot Assist Control is also a nice feature that can work if situations are slick. We compared each mode and did several practice starts against a stock 2014 RM-Z450. We didn’t notice a huge distinction when doing starts in “B mode” against the standard 2014. Both bikes ended up almost dead actually on every start we attempted. However , when conditions were somewhat harder packed and less grip was available “A mode” has been better most of the time by just a bike length.

 

We will continue to put the brand new 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 through its paces at different types of tracks plus conditions to see what its strengths and weaknesses will be. Be sure to check out the November problem of Dirt Driver Magazine to read the entire test.


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