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words - Mat Boyd
photos - Shayne Rice
The 2012 range has only received minor updates, but they remain bikes for all seasons -- ideally suited to both beginners and pros

Suzuki’s motocross bikes have always been up the front of racing packs, in domestic and world championships all over the globe.

So when Suzuki turned to building motocross bikes for the four-stroke era it certainly did not disappoint. In 2008, Suzuki was the first manufacturer to mass produce a motocross bike with electronic fuel injection on the RM-Z450, and the RM-Z250 followed suit two years later.

New for 2012, the RM-Z range comes with a red AMA-style gripper seat cover, black fork guards and an updated sticker kit to add to its already aggressive looks. Suzuki Australia recently launched the new range in Maitland (NSW).

Also on location at the launch was the factory Suzuki race team, which worked tirelessly all day setting rear spring sag heights, tweaking handlebar and lever positions, adjusting suspension and changing ignition maps just to make sure we could get the best possible feel with each bike.

RM-Z450

My day began on the 450, as it’s the bike I have spent the most of my time on lately. Straight away I felt comfortable, as the power is produced just so smooth through the electronic fuel injection. While it’s a silky operator, it’s still a 450 and as soon as I really cracked the throttle open it took off with some serious hustle.And it makes power all the way to the rev limiter; it never signs off or starts to run out of power.

After a few outings, I decided to massage the suspension settings to see if I could get it to handle a little better. I was quite happy with the compression on the front, but I increased it on the rear shock – both high and low speed – and slowed up the rebound at both ends to try and stop it from chattering too much over bumps.

Immediately, I noticed a bid difference. The bike no longer bottomed out through the whoops, and handled all the bumps and ruts with precision.

The 450 steers into flat turns and ruts with very little effort from the rider, and there’s lots of room for the rider to find the optimum seating position to make that happen. The seat is very slim but comfortable, and the big, flat platform pegs add a great feel of stability to the bike without getting in the way of ruts or rocks.

The 450 is a great competition-ready bike straight out of the shop. You could pick this bike up on your way to the races and then compete on the same day – something that couldn’t be said with the same level of assurance a few years ago.

RM-Z250

This bike has loads more power than I had anticipated. It has the same traits as the 450 in areas like roominess and the comfortable foot pegs, but less weight to throw around. That’s why I found myself finding lines I didn’t know were there on the 450.

The engine has great power, from the bottom right through to the top. But your standards have to be more exacting – if you run a higher gear through a slow corner the bike will bog down and require some remedial clutch work.

As I’m a little heavier than the average 250cc punter (90kg) the suspension was a little soft for me, but once again it only took a little bit of micro management – stiffer compression, slower rebound – to arrive at a much better set-up. But I would probably require a stiffer spring rate if I was to spend more time on the 250.

ALL KITTED OUT

In 2012, Suzuki is also throwing a few extra bits into its spares kits. The kit now includes an air filter, additional oil filter and a piston ring.

RM-Z motocross and supercross pilots are also eligible to register for Suzuki’s Support Rider Program, offering generous contingency payments on national and state championships. Contact your local Suzuki dealer for more information.

The 2012 RM-Zs suit everyone from beginners to experts. If you’re not fussed about what class you race in – if indeed you are a racer – then your size may determine whether the 250 or 450 is the optimal fit.

Either way, the bikes handle mellow or aggressive in equally adept parts, so there’s simply no reason to jettison either of the bikes as your riding improves.

The 2012 RM-Z range is available for $10,690 (250) and $11,590 respectively.

Published : Tuesday, 18 October 2011
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