News 7 Oct 2011

Race Test: 2011 Rockstar Motul Suzuki RM-Z450

MotoOnline.com.au’s Luke George tests Cody Cooper’s MX Nationals contender.

Rockstar Motul Suzuki should have been right in the hunt for the 2011 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, Australian Motocross Championship, with Kiwi contender Cody Cooper.

As the lone Pro Open rider aboard the team’s factory RM-Z450, Cooper had high hopes after clinching his maiden MX1 outdoor title in New Zealand at the beginning of the year on an identical bike.

With wins in three out of the first five races during the MX Nationals, Cooper proved his status as one of the pre-season favourites was well worthy. That all came crashing down however at Appin’s second round, crashing out of moto two and suffering various injuries including a collapsed lung.

Cooper never really did find that form again, although he did win at Toowoomba’s mud-soaked round overall, which resulted in a frustrating season for the Suzuki crew managed by Jay Foreman.

MotoOnline.com.au had former national champion Luke George test Cody Cooper's factory Rockstar Motul Suzuki. Image: Alex Gobert.

MotoOnline.com.au had former national champion Luke George test Cody Cooper's factory Rockstar Motul Suzuki. Image: Alex Gobert.

Following the season, MotoOnline.com.au organised a private test aboard the RM-Z450 of Cooper and called upon former Pro Lites Australian Motocross Champion Luke George to carry out the testing duties for us – what a combination!

Once locked in for early September, we met George and the Rockstar Motul Suzuki team including Foreman and mechanic Simon ‘Hoppa’ Reid at a private test track right near the team’s base in Newcastle. Here’s what George had to say about the bike, along with Foreman’s rundown on what the team does to prepare the RM-Z450 for professional level racing.

Luke George – MotoOnline.com.au Guest Test Rider

Getting onto somebody else’s bike with their setting is usually pretty hard, but on this bike I got straight out there. Cody had his levers pretty central, his handlebars back a little bit, so I went out and did a warm-up. Within the first couple of corners I was pretty comfortable.

The suspension was really hard, but that’s to be expected with me compared to Cody because we are two different types of people. Other than that, the rear brake lever had to be lowered a little for me, but I could race it if you put my suspension that I need in it.

George almost instantly felt at home aboard Cooper's race bike, apart from the stiff suspension for his weight. Image: Alex Gobert.

George almost instantly felt at home aboard Cooper's race bike, apart from the stiff suspension for his weight. Image: Alex Gobert.

The only fault for me was the suspension because it was so hard, and then it took a little bit to get used to the exhaust because it was so loud compared to the bike I train on. After three or four laps I was used to it.

I thought the steering was the best thing about the bike, both in open and tight corners. The front-end was good, wouldn’t push or tuck – it was just really, really good even though the suspension wasn’t really suited to me.

The motor was really good actually. It just had a lot of torque. It’s not really snappy, just easy to ride and never runs out of power. Come out of the turn and the power’s there, or use the top-end down the straight and there’s plenty there. It’s exactly what you’d want for a race bike.

I’ve never ridden anybody else’s factory race bike before, never ridden a Suzuki, or any other brand of 450 actually. It’s been a great opportunity to ride Cody’s race bike and see what he looks for in a bike, how he sets it up for racing.

Cody Cooper's 2011 model Rockstar Motul Suzuki RM-Z450. Image: Alex Gobert.

Cody Cooper's 2011 model Rockstar Motul Suzuki RM-Z450. Image: Alex Gobert.

Jay Foreman – Rockstar Motul Suzuki Team Manager

Suzuki likes to have one Open rider and one Lites rider, which is the way that we’ve run the team for a while. As far as Cody’s concerned, he’s not picky at all. There are only a couple of things, such as the front guard. If we put one on that looks like a little bit different shape he’ll spot it, but apart from that he’s really easy to work with. He doesn’t want to change, because once he’s happy then he’s happy.

The bike’s pretty much similar to what he raced with last year. The suspension is a little bit different, just the settings, and the motor is probably a little bit stronger than last year. As he’s settled into our tracks we’ve given him a stronger engine to ride with. It’s not radically different at all, exactly the same as he races in New Zealand.

With Cody we’ve done the settings and he now uses a different one to what we first started with, plus it’s changed again since then. We’ve been going in one direction and then we’ll go back in a different direction, but it always ends up pretty similar.

RG3 does the clamps, linkages and develop them, and they also do the valving specs. We’ve worked with them for a long time now, although Cody’s a little bit off the side of where they’d normally like to be. Each rider is after a particular feel though.

George was a big fan of the smooth power that the team has applied to the engine. Image: Alex Gobert.

George was a big fan of the smooth power that the team has applied to the engine. Image: Alex Gobert.

Cody runs 47mm production forks with coatings on them, because we find that for motocross we can get a plusher feel with the 47mm fork than the 49mm that is the Showa kit fork.

Phil Tainton does the head work and then we’ll go and play with the cams, ignitions, etc. We use stock cams, because with the 450 we find we can get more power than the rider likes. Once we mellowed it down last year, Cody’s results got better. You have to be a little bit careful with how much power you put into it.

The twin hole Yoshimura exhaust is stronger off the bottom, which has been good so far.

We have a 20mm offset in the clamps, plus the RG3 link is a little bit more progressive than the stock link and seems to hook up better under acceleration.

The Vortex is good because it has a higher rev limiter, so we can hold higher gears in between corners with that. We tune that at the track or on the dyno to suit. Hinson Clutches are also nice, we always get a good feel, plus we play around with clutch plates to see how aggressive the rider likes it.

Even post-season, Suzuki's factory MX Nationals contender looks super sharp. Image: Alex Gobert.

Even post-season, Suzuki's factory MX Nationals contender looks super sharp. Image: Alex Gobert.

2011 Rockstar Motul Suzuki RM-Z450 Specifications

Engine: 450cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC
Cylinder Head: Standard, modified by Phil Tainton Racing
Cylinder: Standard
Piston: Standard
Camshafts: Standard
Throttle Body: Kehin
Radiators: Standard, strengthened
Spark Plug: NGK
Ignition: Vortex
Exhaust Pipe: Yoshimura
Muffler: Yoshimura twin hole
Air Filter: Uni Filter
Sprockets: Tag
Drive Chain: RK 520 MX U
Tyres: Pirelli
Wheels: Excel, standard hubs
Suspension: Production, DLC coated and RG3 valving
Triple Clamps: RG3
Front Brake: 270mm Braking Bat-fly disc, standard lines
Rear Brake: Braking bat disc
Handle Bars: Tag
Controls – Brake: Standard
Controls – Clutch: Works Connection
Grips: Tag
Clutch Components: Hinson
Graphics: ONE Industries
Seat: Standard foam with ONE Industries gripper cover
Fuel: VP ROO 100
Lubrication: Motul Oils

Do you have an opinion to share on this story? Be sure to sign up to MotoOnline.com.au’s iMoto Community and have your say below today!

Related