Breathing New Life Into a 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450
Until 2018, the Suzuki RM-Z450 hadn’t received a major overhaul for more than a decade, and the bike enjoyed a great reputation as one of the best handling bikes on the track. That said, there was no compelling reason for Suzuki owners to replace their bikes with a new version, as it was mostly the same machine for many years. Brian Smith is one of our buddies we met at the track, and he’s been riding a 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 for three years now. Affectionately known as “Big Geezoid” or “Scrub Daddy,” Smith is one of those guys who seems to be at the track every single time we are. And it’s our jobs to ride!
Through the years, we’ve watched Scrub Daddy’s bike deteriorate, but until he showed up riding an old 2006 Kawasaki KX250 two-stroke because his RM-Z450 was out of order, did we realize what a shoddy mechanic he was and how poorly maintained his bike actually was. “All I’ve ever done is change the oil in it,” he said. “And I put a clutch in it once, but it was a used one someone gave me.” With 320 hours on the hour meter, it was a miracle the bike ran as long as it did.
Anyone who knows Scrub Daddy knows that he is a fun-loving guy who makes any day at the track a better one. In addition to spinning lap after lap on the track – often with an overabundance of body English thrown in – Smith will change out of his gear and shoot photos of all his friends. That said, he’s become a good friend of TransWorld Motocross, and we wanted to help him out.
Jay Clark is another great friend of our staff, and as a representative of many quality aftermarket companies and owner of the DirtBikeTV channel on Youtube, he was our first call when it came down to rebuilding the tired old RM-Z450. Jay is a master of taking an old, tired machine and rebuilding it into something race worthy, and his work on this machine should serve as inspiration for someone who might be in the market to sink a little money into a well-used bike purchase, and then rebuild it back to its former glory.
Because the engine was well-worn but not technically blown up with lots of internal damage, Clark was able to rebuild the engine with parts from Hot Rods, Vertex Piston and Cometic Gasket. The crank was removed and rebuilt by Pro-Tec Racing, as it was well worn and out of balance. We had given Scrub Daddy a complete Hinson Clutch assembly months earlier to test for us, but he never installed it because he was either lazy or lacked the mechanical skills. We suspect the latter. Haha! We installed the clutch basket, hub, pressure plate and plates, as his OEM system was trashed. A new FMF Racing exhaust system replaced the hollow stock muffler that was on the bike, and brought the engine to life.
enzo racing refreshed the oil, bushings and seals in the suspension, and we completed the drivetrain with a chain and sprocket from Supersprox. The Supersprox chain is a sealed unit that would fall in between a traditional chain and an o-ring unit: it is much stronger and longer-lasting than a standard chain, without the initial rolling resistance of an o-ring. All Balls Racing supplied all new cables for the throttle and clutch, and paired with a Works Connection Elite Perch and a set of ODI Emig grips, the controls took on a brand-new feel again. Cosmetically Acerbis and Magik Graphics rounded out the new look of the bike, and of course, we wrapped the wheels with a pair of our favorite Dunlop MX33 tires.On The Track
Watching our friend’s facial expression when he first saw his rebuilt bike was priceless, and it was bettered only by the site of him twisting and twitching his way around the track with his signature Scrub Daddy moves. While his bike was being rebuilt, Smith’s wife felt sorry for him and told him to go buy a new 2019 Suzuki RM-Z450 so that he didn’t have to miss any time at the track. With a brand-new bike on hand for comparison’s sake, Scrub Daddy looked visibly more comfortable on his rebuilt 2016 bike. “To be honest, it feels like brand new again and it’s what I am more familiar with,” he said. “I like it better than the new one!”
These days, motorcycles are well built and long lasting, and with the right maintenance schedule they can offer multiple seasons of good times. Smith certainly didn’t take care of his bike the first time around, but if he stays on top of it this time around, there’s no reason this machine can’t stay fresh for years to come.