2011 Suzuki RM-Z450
The last half century of motocross has seen the different Japanese motorcycle manufacturers vie for the crown and shift it between them virtually year to year. Suzuki's RM range was catapulted into the sphere of legend by Roger De Coster with his remarkable five 500cc Motocross World Championships out of six years in the early Seventies, and one look at the 2011 Suzuki RM-Z450 shows that heritage is still alive and well in the yellow rockets.
Although the RM-Z450 shares nothing with the famed 500 two strokes of Motocrossing's Golden Age other than two knobby tires and a yellow paint job, it is a bike that given a skillful rider can dominate the competition just as thoroughly as the high flying Suzuki racers of days gone by.
If the 2009 RM-Z450 with its pioneering electronic fuel injection wasn't enough of a monster for you, the 2011 iteration features reversed throttle valve movement which directs mist away from the valve to increase power even further. The cam profiles were revised, and the intake and exhaust angle guides were narrowed while the squish areas were increased to maximize fuel air mixing and quicker flame-propagation on ignition. All of this equals rocket booster power from idle to redline.
As the horses got dialed up, the frame had to keep track, so the twin-spar aluminum frame was made more rigid and is matched up with a re-engineered subframe and rear swingarm. For 2011 the head stock was turned into a two piece design and increased in height by 9 mm. With its remarkable Showa 47mm inverted front forks and generous piggyback reservoir rear suspension, the RM-Z450 will gobble up the meanest whoopdedoos and the highest supercross jumps with all the adroitness of a Prius pulling into a wheatgrass juice drive-thru.
Although the bike can certainly handle the highest jumps, your nether regions may not, as the RM-Z450 saddle is paradoxically thickest and cushiest just ahead of where most rider's haunches fall. Another ergonomic incongruity is the sheer size of the muffler which can interfere with a taller rider's right leg when leaning way back to keep that front wheel up over whoops and in jumps. However, these can be considered minor detractions or even outright nitpicks in what is a superlative motocross racer.
With a curb weight of just 247 pounds, class-leading power, and Supercross-winning handling, the RM-Z450 can make you competitive from the first lap. The 450 four stroke motocross market is extremely crowded with some truly magnificent MX racers, but the 2011 Suzuki RM-Z450 is certainly among the leaders of the pack.
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2011 Suzuki RM-Z450 At A Glance
Base MSRP: $8,799
Engine Displacement: 449 cc
Engine Type: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC single
Bore & Stroke: 96.0 mm (3.780 in) x 62.1 mm (2.445 in)
Ignition Type: Electronic ignition (CDI)
Compression Ratio: 12.2:1
Transmission Type: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive Type: Chain
Front Tire: 80/100-21
Rear Tire: 110/90-19
Wheelbase: 1480 mm
Saddle Height: 955 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 112 kg
Fuel Capacity: 6.2 L
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released