Suzuki’s RM-Z450 underwent major changes for 2015, much to the delight of RM-Z fans. One of those changes was equipping the bike with Showa’s SFF-Triple Air Chamber (TAC) fork.
The other big revision for 2015 was frame changes to improve comfort and control. The 2015 RM-Z450 is a great bike with an easy to ride engine and it is still amazing in the corners. The crew over at Ride Engineering felt the updated RM-Z450 could still benefit from suspension changes, and they wanted to set it up to work better for riders around 150 pounds. Improving on the overall stability and boosting the braking performance were also high priorities on their 2015 RM-Z450 project bike. And, of course, Ride Engineering decked out the bike in every cool product they make and asked us to turn some motos at LACR MX to see what we thought.
Intending to set up the RM-Z450 to work better for lighter (150 pound) riders, the shock valving was revised by JM Racing while the stock spring was replaced with a rate softer spring. The Ride Engineering link was then installed, which lowers the bike back of the bike 6.5-7mm and stiffens the initial part of the shock stroke. Ride Engineering tells us the link allows the shock to stay linear longer before getting into the high-speed circuit, which can cause it to feel harsh. Because the fork uses air as a spring it is infinitely adjustable, so JM Racing tweaked the valving to achieve proper plushness and action. Ride Engineering’s 20mm offset triple clamps with anti-twist bar mounts replaced the stock 21.5mm offset clamps, then a Showa steering damper was fitted using Ride Engineering hardware.
While we love how precisely the stock RM-Z450 turns, Suzuki’s tend to be a less stable at speed than other 450s. With the Ride Engineering link and the Showa steering damper installed, the RM-Z450 was more stable and required less effort from the rider when pushing hard. Even with the changes the RM-Z450 still cornered excellently, retaining the ability to rail a berm or carve an inside rut with very little input from the rider. The overall suspension setup worked well on the sandy and flowing LACR track. LACR gets choppy braking bumps and the softer setup soaked up the little chatter and kept the bike settled while still resisting bottoming out on big hits. Thanks to the adjustability of the air forks we were able to play with the pressure, going a little stiffer to help hold up the front end.
Ride Engineering installed front and rear braided steel lines, a 270 wave rotor kit and their own billet brake caliper to improve braking power,. RE’s brake caliper offers more openings for better airflow and cooling. It also uses larger pistons and flexes less in comparison to stock. The larger pistons change the ratio with the stock master-cylinder, providing more power with less effort over a longer stroke. The braking setup feels a lot different and takes a few laps to get accustom to the feel. With the longer pull at the lever, it is easier to modulate and not as on/off as the stock front brake. It is also far more powerful than the stock setup.
Adding to the fun factor was a full Yoshimura exhaust system. Improving bottom end snap while keeping a smooth pull through the mid into a strong top end. Thankfully, the Yosh system isn’t ear-bleeding loud but still provides a nice deep, throaty sound. This RM-Z450 is also dripping with Ride Engineering goodies like wheel spacers with flanges that lock them into place, making it easy to remove and install wheels without the spacers falling out. The Ride Engineering axle blocks are easy to read and insure proper chain alignment.