First Ride Impressions on the 2018 Suzuki RMZ450F

New bike for Suzuki but is it any good?

(Quotes taken from the Racer X Podcast)

By Dustin Pipes 

Editor note: We sent privateer hero Dusty Pipes out to North Carolina for the 2018 Suzuki RMZ 450 launch where he got to ride the all-new machine as well as ride the 2018 RMZ 250 and tour JGR motorcycle and NASCAR shops. Here are snippets of the Fly Racing Racer X Pod we did with Pipes about the new bike and what he thought of it.

Suzuki has stepped up it's 450 for 2018 and one would think an all-new 250F is coming in 2019.


Pipes-"It looks sick. I think it’s a blue tank on it. Everything flows really nice. There’s a lot of good curves to the bike and kind of edges. It looks really racy. It looks like a race bike out of the crate. It was pretty impressive."


On the 2018 motor..."Motor, very strong on the mid-range with the lean plug, because they have two different plugs on there that you can plug in. There’s a lean one and a rich one. For me personally, I didn’t like the bottom end with the lean plug. It just was a little flat on bottom, but once you got to mid it really never signed off. So, it kept on carrying on mid. Which is something big for me because that’s how I kind of try and make my bikes to where they have a lot of mid-range, but it’s usable power. I think the bike had very good usable power.


When you went to the rich plug the bottom end hit a lot sooner. It kind of got, I guess, up to speed a little bit quicker. But for your everyday, average rider, I’d say the novice, beginner, vet guys, the lean plug would be the ultimate form. You can ride the bike and it’s a smooth ride. That’s the main thing that I took away with it. The whole motor package is smooth and it doesn’t really sign off anywhere. So, I never feel like I’m hitting the rev limiter."


"It doesn’t hit as hard, but the mid-range, it climbs so much better (than the previous years). So, the power band, it just hits smoother to where it’s more rideable power, as in to where sometimes on the previous bike if you go right to full throttle out you’re just getting caught. You’re just getting tire spin because you’re getting there so quick. I think the ’18 just does a better job giving a smoother delivery to the rider. It’s useable power and you can ride the bike longer without getting as tired."


On how the chassis is for 2018..."It’s way better. I think with the previous chassis, sometimes I would knife the front end, just because it would just kind of over-steer a little bit. I think it had a tendency to do that. This one I felt like the front end I didn’t really knife anywhere. The main thing that I could notice on the chassis was the rear end working with the shock. It squatted really well.


When you come out of the corners, the rear end would stay planted to where if there’s bumps on the way out, your rear end’s not kicking up. So, you’re not losing traction. That’s the main thing that I saw. With that chassis the rear end really squatted down in the ruts and the corners. I felt like I was always in traction."


On the new Showa BFRC shock..."So, they told me they took this shock from the road bike side of things and that it was brand new, the first company to ever bring this in, obviously. I’m sure that’s one of their main points. They said mainly they were just looking for a smoother ride overall for the everyday rider. I think that’s what they got with this shock. A little worried – I heard things about them testing. This was probably a year ago or so that the frame and the shock didn’t work very well and it wallowed through the bumps. I got none of that at all.


So, obviously they worked their kinks out before the final model. The rear end just squats. Right when you want it to get into a corner, when you’re standing up and transitioning to sitting down, it’s like it plants. The rear end is worth all they’re selling with it. It’s definitely worth it. I don't know exactly what’s on the inside of it, but it’s probably the best rear shock that I’ve used."


On what he didn't like on the new bike..."The forks, I wasn’t too happy with the forks honestly. I think they need to re-valved. So, I rode the small bike the day after and it has a KYB air, fork and I like those a lot better on the front. So, I wasn’t too happy with the front spring forks, but the rear made up for it.


 I was getting the front end push a little bit. It could have been that I didn’t like the Bridgestones too much. I’m more of a Dunlop guy. So, it could have been me not really gelling with the tires. But I did feel a little bit push on the front end with the high-end corners, or the high-speed corners. Not any slow, tight corners. I wouldn’t get any push, but on the sweepers I would get a little bit of push on the front. So, for me, I would want to re-valve that to something different. I heard a couple other people saying that as well. So, that would be my only flaw with the bike, would be the front forks. But that rear shock really squats good, and you can turn the bike really well.


I think it just needed to get worked on a little bit, was the main thing. But obviously you mess with the clickers and stuff like that. You can dial that in to your riding. Oh The grips suck though, the one thing. The grips are horrible. Tore up my hands. My thumbs are all messed up. I told them that their grips suck and then one of the guys there just called me a girl. So, I was like, whatever. Forget your grips."


More on the forks..."I didn’t really like the last two forks that they had on there. I ran something different. I don’t like the triple chamber air Showa. Not a fan.


From what I got told from Scott from Showa is the 2018 Showa spring fork is pretty much like my A-kit forks that I have now. So, which makes me think that my issues could be a spring issue, it could be valving, stuff like that, to make it better. So, maybe that just didn’t fit me, but from what they made it seem like is that it’s pretty similar to Showa A kit that I currently have. So, that’s a plus."


On the turning and fit and feel of the bike..."It’s balanced and nimble, I think would be the main thing. It feels more lightweight and easier to flick around than last year’s model. The whole bike feels balanced as a whole to where if I get on the gas I’m not rocking back. If I’m braking I’m not rocking forward. The bike just really feels like it stays centered to me when you’re in the cockpit. It feels more nimble.


I don't know if it’s lighter or not than the older bike, but it felt skinnier to me, you can swing that thing around any which direction you wanted. I was picking up the front tire and placing it over bumps. Didn’t have a problem doing any of that. So, I think maybe that was the main thing, is it feels skinnier, not necessarily lighter. It feels skinnier.


Other than the front shrouds, it feels a little bit more in to where you can grip with your knees a little bit more in the front. That would be the only thing that I would say is a little bit better than the previous model."


On what he thought on the bike overall..."Being honest with what I heard going in, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the bike that much, just based off how I ride it. I went in and I rode the first time and I was like, I don't know why anybody would say anything bad about the bike. It was night and day better than the last model. They did a really good job. I know it’s been a long time since they’ve had a new bike but they really put out all the stops when they finally did make a new one. Props to them. Everything it looks to be, it is. It definitely delivers."