News 30 Sep 2011

Launch Test: 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 and RM-Z450

MotoOnline.com.au rides and rates Suzuki’s 2012 model contenders.

Suzuki Australia recently launched its 2012 RM-Z motocross range at Maitland. Image: Rice Photography.

Suzuki Australia recently launched its 2012 RM-Z motocross range at Maitland. Image: Rice Photography.

Suzuki’s RM-Z range remains relatively unchanged for season 2012, however that didn’t stop Suzuki Australia from launching the models earlier this month at Maitland in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales.

While the revisions are minimal save for new graphics, Suzuki’s Open class contender now comes with an expanded spares kit that now includes an air filter, additional oil filter and a piston ring set.

Another thing that Suzuki has in its arsenal is the Suzuki Support Rider program, which offers motocross and supercross racers generous contingency payments on national and state championships.

Starting with the RM-Z450 Open class campaigner, it has a great history since its initial release in 2008, which was the first mass production motocross motorcycle to feature electronic fuel injection.

The RM-Z450’s 449cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid cooled, DOHC, 4-value engine has been developed and refined to deliver phenomenal idle-to-redline thrust, according to Suzuki. The motor also features a five-speed, constant mesh transmission.

Suzuki’s electronic fuel injection system has three fuel maps (lean, standard and rich) to select from that allow riders to fine tune their preferences to suit track conditions.

Suzuki launched its RM-Z450, with just minimal changes for the 2012 season. Image: Rice Photography.

Suzuki launched its RM-Z450, with just minimal changes for the 2012 season. Image: Rice Photography.

The RM-Z450 has a rigid twin-spar aluminium frame, plus an advanced subframe, linkage and rear swingarm that all add to the chassis combination. Suzuki also opts for Showa suspension on its RM-Z models, completing a proven handling package.

MotoOnline’s Guy Streeter was on hand at the launch with Suzuki and enjoyed the ease of use when riding the 450, noting that the engine is particularly easy to use thanks to its smooth powerband and EFI settings.

“I really like the RM-Z 450’s motor, there were no surprises there it is really smooth delivery like most bikes these days and there is enough power,” Streeter said. “I don’t think there will be too many people complaining about stretched throttle cables…”

Streeter was also impressed with the handling of the bike, gaining confidence as the chassis inspired him to put in a load of laps during the launch while putting the model through its paces.

“The thing I really like about the Suzuki is the bike doesn’t feel big and bulky between your legs and you really feel confident in cornering, the bike handles really well,” Streeter added. “It feels like you can just point it wherever you want in corners and it will turn with confidence.”

With results like that in production trim, it’s easy to see why the RM-Z450 has enjoyed so much success over the years including championships in Australia, the United States and Europe with some of the sport’s biggest names.

MotoOnline's Guy Streeter rode Rockstar Motul Suzuki's MX Nationals contenders at the launch. Image: Rice Photography.

MotoOnline's Guy Streeter rode Rockstar Motul Suzuki's MX Nationals contenders at the launch. Image: Rice Photography.

In comparison with Cody Cooper’s MX Nationals contender, which test riders were also lucky enough to sample on the day, Streeter said it was a relatively easy transition.

“Jumping on Cooper’s bike, the main thing I noticed was the suspension felt really good across choppy ground and the lack of engine braking,” he explained. “Not that it wasn’t there, but it had significantly less than the stock bike.

“Cody has his ’bars set up a little higher than stock also. The power on the bike wasn’t scary like I thought it might be, but seems to be refined a little more than what you find with the stock bike.”

Suzuki also launched the RM-Z250 Lites bike at Maitland, and it too remains unchanged apart from the graphics for 2012. What it does have is the increased spare parts in the kit, plus racers can also take advantage of the Suzuki Support Rider program.

The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 has a 249cc, four-stroke engine, lightweight aluminium chassis, Showa suspension – all featuring Suzuki’s latest off-road competition technology.

Following in the footsteps of the RM-Z450, Suzuki’s Lites bike was the first, quarter-litre production motocross machine to feature Suzuki’s innovative fuel-injection technology.

Streeter was a big fan of the RM-Z250's quick handling capabilities. Image: Rice Photography.

Streeter was a big fan of the RM-Z250's quick handling capabilities. Image: Rice Photography.

Suzuki’s original Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system incorporates a 43mm throttle body with progressive throttle linkage and a battery-less fuel pump, giving the RM-Z250 outstanding performance.

A dominant competitor in the Australian motocross and supercross scene since its introduction, the Suzuki RM-Z250 recently clinched another championship title with young gun Errol Willis claiming the 2011 Under 19s Australian Motocross Championship.

Streeter was also impressed with both the motor and handling – especially the additional agility – of the RM-Z250.

“The 250 has many of the same characteristics that the 450 does – cornering, handling and great power,” Streeter noted.

Like with the 450, Streeter enjoyed a rare opportunity on the day to test the Rockstar Motul Suzuki team’s race bike, sampling McCoy’s very race bike from the outdoor season.

“The first thing I noticed about Dan’s bike was the hydraulic clutch because it has an awesome feel,” Streeter said. “The power seems to hit a little harder than the stock bike as you would expect. The bike really felt great in corners.

The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 features factory styling for the new year. Image: Rice Photography.

The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z250 features factory styling for the new year. Image: Rice Photography.

“I feel like a broken record talking about the handling of the bike in corners, but it really feels like you could just turn harder with out the bike washing out or feeling uneasy. The suspension was stiff initially, but softened up a little further down the stroke. The faster the bike was ridden the more comfortable the suspension felt.”

And that’s the thing, Suzuki largely basis its production bikes off its factory racers, using the development that’s learnt in race trim to ensure consumers have the best product that money can buy. You have to be happy with that.

The 2012 Suzuki RM-Z450 is available for $11,590, while the RM-Z250 can be purchased for $10,690. Both models are now in dealerships nationwide throughout Australia.

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