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MXA’S 90-SECOND TEST: 2014 SUZUKI RM-Z450

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Is The RM-Z450 fast? Not in the traditional sense. It has a classic low-to-mid powerband that requires the rider to shift at peak and avoid trying to rev the engine out. Don’t be mistaken, it will rev way past 8500 rpm, but it will actually be losing power as the rpm climbs. But speed is not what the RM-Z450 is all about.

50-WORD ANALYSIS

There are bikes that are good at every thing, bikes that are bad at everything and then there are bikes that are good at one thing. No one will ever say that the 2014 Suzuki RM-Z450 is the fastest, best suspended or best equipped bike on the track?but no one can deny that the RM-Z450 is the best turning bike made.

WHAT’S GOOD?

Handling. Nothing corners like a Suzuki. There is something magical in the RM’s head angle, fork offset and weight bias that allows it to go where no other bike can.

Powerband. Although not a power monger, the 2014 RM-Z50 has a very competitive low-to-mid engine that is effective?as long as you don’t try to rev it.

Single-Fire ignition. Added to aid starting and lessen kickback, there is no accurate description of how it does this.

Plug-in couplers. The RM-Z450 comes with three plug-in couplers. They allow RM-Z450 owners to change the powerband in a few seconds.

WHAT’S BAD?

Handling. Yes, we know that we praised the handling a few paragraphs earlier, but don’t confuse the Suzuki’s cornering ability with its straight line stability. At speed, over rough ground and in choppy terrain the Suzuki is busy. Very busy.

Clutch. It’s spongy on the showroom floor.

Weight. It is the heaviest bike in the class.

Overheating. Run a high-pressure radiator cap because the RM-Z boils quickly.

Forks. The Showa SSF forks on the 2014 RM-Z450 are the anti-forks. They are the worst forks we have ever tested. We take that back?they are no worse than the 2013 RM-Z450 forks…and no better. Do yourself a favor and send these forks out to be revalved. If you must run them stock, turn the preload adjuster in all the way.

WHAT DID WE CHANGE?

Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew changed on the 2014 RM-Z450.

(1) We ran the white plug-in coupler.

(2) We sent the forks to Pro Circuit to have them revalved to lessen the midstroke harshness.

(3) We ran a high-pressure radiator cap.

(4) We installed stiffer clutch springs.

(5) If you want to install aftermarket grips on the RM-Z450 throttle tube, lots of luck. The stock grip is vulcanized onto the throttle tube. We replaced it with an aluminum throttle tube.

WHAT DO WE THINK?

The RM-Z450 has both a finesse engine and lithe chassis that is perfect for Novice and Vet riders — Once they fix the forks.

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