With new bike season upon us, perhaps one of the most exciting and most anticipated offerings came out of the Suzuki camp today in the form of their completely redesigned 2018 RM-Z450. Having flown out to Japan earlier this month to get a sneak peak, we were delighted when we saw the drastic changes. Now that the embargo that we signed is officially lifted, it’s time to dive into this all-new yellow machine. With the three main points of interest for their new release being increased engine performance, better cornering and handling characteristics, and improved stopping power, the bike underwent a slew of updates and changes for 2018. SHOWA Spring forks? Yep. First production bike with SHOWA’s BFRC rear shock? Yep. More power? Yep. New Frame? Yep. We outlined it all below, read on…
Based solely on looks alone, the new RM-Z450 underwent a massive facelift with aggressive styling that mirrors the RM-Z450WS that the MXGP race team ran. Blue accents run from the top of the seat cover continue through to the updated, now plastic, fuel tank, and return to Suzuki’s yellow and blue race team color roots. The entire shape of the bike is updated, with the carbon fiber-stye accents on the shrouds that immediately draw your attention in. Black wheels and bronze colored fork tubes and shock bladder tie it all in together. As a bike that was often called out for its dated looks, the 2018 RM-Z450 rolls off the production floor with a very race-inspired facelift this year. What really matters, however, is performance and handling, and that’s what Suzuki aimed to improve with this updated model.
Perhaps the biggest changes to the new model are in the suspension and chassis design. Suzuki just entered the market being the first manufacturer to equip a production model with SHOWA’s BFRC Shock, which stands for “Balance Free Rear Cushion”, and is also fitted with 49mm SHOWA spring forks. We’ve seen the BFRC shock run on numerous race machines around the world, and now Suzuki’s consumers will benefit from the design on the new 2018 RM-Z450. What is it? Without writing a book, the shock cylinder design allows for external pressure control to balance the pressure in the cylinder. This eliminates the existing pressure differential in current systems and results in improved, more stable dampening along with easy to make setting changes (see cutaway photo in slide above for a good visual.) Up front the new SHOWA 49mm spring forks feature more rigidity through larger inner tubes and rod pipes, a larger cylinder, and eliminate the need to check your fork air pressure. Suzuki’s engineers mentioned greatly improved low speed cornering via the new spring fork.
At the heart of the machine, the 2018 RM-Z450 underwent quite a few mechanical updates to the engine that were also matched to an improved ECM and an updated S-HAC system (Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control – more on this below.) With an entirely new intake system that features a 30% larger air filter aperture, the engine’s air is then directed through the new Mikuni throttle body where the injector delivers the fuel upward as it enters the newly redesigned cylinder head ports. Combining the new intake boot shape, cylinder head ports, and intake camshaft profile, along with increased fuel pressure delivered through their updated fuel injector direction, they achieved more power output with increased torque at lower RPM’s, along with more responsiveness at higher RPM. The new bridge-box piston handles the power load and spent exhaust fumes are expelled via the updated muffler design.
The ECM and improved electronics on the new RM-Z450 are just as impressive as the mechanical updates. The updated ECM now operates at 1.6 times the speed of its predecessor and can hold 2.5 times the memory. This all translates to strong improvements in the S-HAC (Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control) options found on the handlebar mounted option switch. Mode “A” has been updated to improve start characteristics, retarding timing to deliver smooth acceleration as the bike takes off over the start gate. This mode is best suited for hard or slippery surfaces, and shuts off six seconds after the start as it’s meant to aid in the holeshot. Mode “B” is meant for more normal dirt, and advances ignition timing for six seconds out of the gate to assist in grabbing the holeshot. The option to keep the S-HAC turned off is also there, if the rider is not interested in the technology.
The frame, subframe, and swing arm are next up on the list of 2018 RM-Z450 changes. Externally the frame’s geometry and tube shape are noticeably different, but the biggest change comes internally with the removal of the cross support within the tube. This not only improves cornering performance, but also aids in the absorption of shock to the frame, translating to a better feel at the rider’s hands. The subframe now has slightly angled edges that allow for easier removal of the air filter when servicing it. It’s important to note that the weight distribution on this model is exactly the same as the previous model (48.2% front and 51.8% rear), keeping Suzuki’s world-renowned handling consistent. The swing arm also gets an update, improving cornering performance and stability along with a general update in the “looks” department. The complete list of the updated chassis dimensions include a wheelbase that comes in at 1480mm (8mm shorter), a 10mm move backward at the head pipe joint, a seat height of 960mm (5mm taller), and a 7mm move forward of the handlebar position. All of these changes aim to improve handling along with rider cockpit comfort.
The last of the big performance-enhancing updates come within the braking department. A redesigned rear master cylinder is noticeably different in shape, and delivers power to the rear caliper with fewer protrusions than the age-old design it replaces. More exciting though is the new front brake rotor that measures 270mm in diameter, 20mm larger than last year’s model.
There are also quite a few smaller changes that can be found on the new 2018 RM-Z450 model. With the change back to spring forks came a few extra pounds, so matching the existing weight and weight distribution was achieved through a series of small changes. One of these changes is the switch back to a resin fuel tank from what has been an aluminum tank for quite some time now. This saved 275 grams of weight and also increases fuel capacity by .1L. The upper fork bracket is also lighter, the front and rear wheel rims are lighter, the seat is redesigned and saves 246 grams, including an integrated GP-inspired mudguard that fits into the subframe, the chain guide is updated and saves 30 grams. There are other various weight-saving measures found throughout as well. Like we mentioned earlier, the final weight distribution is identical to the previous model (48.2% front and 51.8% rear) and also weighs in at the exact same weight of 247 lbs. Meeting the dirt are Bridgestone’s Battlecross X30 tire, sized at 80/100-21 in the front and 110/90-19 in the rear.
Page through Suzuki’s photos above and check out the specifications of the bike below, then remember to check back for more content featuring the all-new 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450.
Engine Type | 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke
Bore x Stroke | 96.0mm × 62.1mm
Compression Ratio | 12.5:1
Fuel Delivery | Mikuni® fuel injection
Ignition | Electronic Ignition (CDI)
Transmission | 5-speed Constant-Mesh
Final Drive | Chain
Suspension / Front | SHOWA Inverted Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension / Rear | SHOWA BFRC (Link type, coil spring, oil damped)
Brakes / Front | Hydraulic disc, 270mm
Brakes / Rear | Hydraulic disc
Tires / Front | 80/100-21 Bridgestone Battlecross X30, tube type
Tires / Rear | 110/90-19 Bridgestone Battlecross X30, tube type
LxWxH | 85.6 in x 32.9 in x 49.6 in
Seat Height | 37.8 in
Wheelbase | 58.3 in
Rake (Caster Angle) | 27.80°
Trail | 4.7 in
Ground Clearance | 13.0 in
Fuel Capacity | 1.6 gal
Curb Mass | 247 lbs
Color | Yellow and Blue