MXA PRODUCT TEST:
VANCE AND HINES ALUMINUM PRO RM-Z450 EXHAUST
WHAT IS IT? It’s a full exhaust system for the fuel-injected Suzuki RM-Z450 from, amazingly enough, two different sources merged into one.
WHAT’S IT COST? $499.00 (Aluminum Pro), $849.95 (Titanium Pro), $299.00 (XCR slip-on).
CONTACT? (800) 223-5952 or www.vanceandhines.com
WHAT’S IT DO? In stock trim the Suzuki RM-Z450 makes excellent power off the bottom. In the first half of the normal rpm range for a 450cc motocrosser, the yellow bike is crisp, sharp and powerful. The rest of the powerband, however, leaves much to be desired. Suzuki’s fuel-injected engine is a capable piece of engineering, but it is held back by a combination of electronics, fuel management and exhaust design. These limitations are painfully evident on a fast outdoor track with long straights. When the need arises for more rev, the RM-Z450 comes up wanting. Its instantaneous throttle response at 7000 rpm is useless at 10,000 rpm. And, making matters worse, is that 10,000 rpm is the upper limit of the RM-Z450’s powerband. This engine needs help.
Vance and Hines isn't the Lone Ranger when it comes to helping the RM-Z450 out of a pinch. Vance & Hines may be new to motocross, but since their offroad motocross line was spawned from the White Brothers pipe lineup, they certainly have a credible starting point. Before the White Brothers exhaust program was folded into Vance & Hines, the White Brothers were the official pipe supplier to both Team Honda and Team Yamaha. MXA’s experiences with Vance And Hines exhausts have shown that they picked up where the White Brothers left off—and haven’t taken a step backwards.
The MXA wrecking crew decided to equip our 2009 Suzuki RM-Z450 with the Vance & Hines Aluminum Pro exhaust system to see if it delivered the performance gains we were looking for.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Vance And Hines Aluminum Pro exhaust system.
(1) Installation. The Aluminum Pro is a three-piece system, (the muffler slips onto the mid-pipe, which slips onto the head pipe). Three-piece designs are easier to mount. All of the bolt holes on our Aluminum Pro lined up perfectly, and there were no springs, clamps, hooks, grommets, spacers or Chinese handcuffs to complicate installation. Be sure to use anti-seize grease between the mid-pipe and header if you ever want to remove the pipe.
(2) Power. The Aluminum Pro retained the low-end grunt of the stocker, but after that there was no comparison. Where the power of the stocker starts to flatten out in the midrange, the Vance & Hines turns into a rocket ship. Midrange and top-end power are given a healthy boost. The top-end power is considerably stronger than stock. It should be noted, however, that an exhaust system cannot change a bike’s rev limiter, and the RM-Z450 still signs off early. This is unavoidable, but the Vance And Hines pipe made it stronger in the range where it ran—that’s a big plus.
(3) Aggressiveness. When you drop the clutch and pin the throttle of a Vance And Hines-equipped RM-Z450, it’s like a bullet from a gun. The Vance And Hines pipe adds a decent layer of power, but it feels even more powerful than it is because of the low-to-mid hit. The hit offers a spike in the powerband that takes a couple of motos to learn to anticipate.
(4) Construction. The Vance And Hines signature “square-ellipse” muffler canister is brushed aluminum, while the header and midpipe are stainless steel. We liked it. There were no frills and there was no girly glamour. Our Aluminum Pro has held up well over time.
(5) Price. Vance And Hines makes a much more expensive titanium version (and a less expensive slip-on), but we think that the Aluminum Pro’s under-$500 price tag is what the public is looking for in a complete system. There is a good horsepower-per-dollar ratio.
(6) Options. If you need a USFS-approved spark arrestor or 94db insert, you can buy them separately.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? Nothing too major, but the Aluminum Pro exhaust does change the Suzuki RM-Z450 from mild mannered to aggressive. For racers who liked the mellowness, they found it best to short-shift.
The Vance & Hines Aluminum Pro makes the 2009 Suzuki RM-Z450 a lot faster, punchier and competitive. We’ll take that, especially for $499.