At the beginning of the season, after years of struggling with reliability on numerous bikes (KTM 250sx, YZ 250, KTM 350 SX-F and TM MX 300), I decided to try out a Japanese four stroke. After hearing many times my issue was the fact that I was riding the two stroke and it’s because I was riding euro bikes I gave in and decided to get a Japanese 450.
I had tried many of the 450’s before deciding to get the Suzuki RMZ 450. The Honda felt slow and had air forks, the Yamaha’s front end had a weird feel, and I liked the Suzuki for the most part. I wanted to get a Honda, I’ve always had good luck with them, but Honda was ruled out due to air forks. Kawi was ruled out because of air forks too, KTM was out because it’s a euro bike, and I wasn’t confident I could make the Yamaha work right.
The Suzuki was gonna need some adjustments, but I thought I would be able to make it work. I rode Suzuki’s on two different tracks: a buddy’s track that is kind of small and tight and my personal track. On the small, tighter track the RMZ 450 felt great, seemed stable enough, turned well and had good power. On my personal track it seemed a bit unstable, but I figured I’d be able to sort this out if I had my own.
When I got my own Suzuki RMZ 450 it was a struggle for me to get comfortable with. After my first couple of days riding I knew I had to get some handlebars, I got a bend I was comfortable with and even decided to get some higher bar mounts. This helped, but at 6’2″ I needed more room still. I got some Fastway Evolution 3 footpegs, placed them in the lower position and the rider compartment finally had some room.
After my first race on the RMZ 450 I realized it was time to get my suspension set up. The bike was all over the place. Getting the suspension set up for my weight and riding abilities definitely helped but I was still having issues. On the track the bike felt super heavy and the front end was still unpredictable to me. Whenever I pushed it, I felt like I was fighting the bike and on the verge of crashing. I wasn’t having fun riding and that’s not right.
After many races fighting head shake and overall discomfort on the bike I had a big crash. After this crash I went back and forth on whether to keep the RMZ 450. After spending some time on my two stroke I decided the 2013 Suzuki RMZ 450 was not for me.
I have always struggled a bit with the way 450’s handle. This is why I have basically rode two strokes for the past five years (besides the summer of hell with my 2011 KTM 350). Will I ever have a 450 again? I’m not sure. If I ever get a four stroke again, chances are it will be another 350. KTM seems to have that thing sorted out now.