(Above) The Ride Engineering link lowers the back of the bike, increasing overall stability. (Middle) The Ride Engineering wheel spacers lock in place and the axle blocks make reading the position of the axle easy. (Below) A full Yoshimura exhaust system boosted the power all the way through the rpm range.
Intending to set up the RM-Z450 to work better for lighter (150 pound) riders, the shock valving was revised by JM Racing while the stock spring was replaced with a rate softer spring. The Ride Engineering link was then installed, which lowers the bike back of the bike 6.5-7mm and stiffens the initial part of the shock stroke. Ride Engineering tells us the link allows the shock to stay linear longer before getting into the high-speed circuit, which can cause it to feel harsh. Because the fork uses air as a spring it is infinitely adjustable, so JM Racing tweaked the valving to achieve proper plushness and action. Ride Engineering’s 20mm offset triple clamps with anti-twist bar mounts replaced the stock 21.5mm offset clamps, then a Showa steering damper was fitted using Ride Engineering hardware.
While we love how precisely the stock RM-Z450 turns, Suzuki’s tend to be a less stable at speed than other 450s. With the Ride Engineering link and the Showa steering damper installed, the RM-Z450 was more stable and required less effort from the rider when pushing hard. Even with the changes the RM-Z450 still cornered excellently, retaining the ability to rail a berm or carve an inside rut with very little input from the rider. The overall suspension setup worked well on the sandy and flowing LACR track. LACR gets choppy braking bumps and the softer setup soaked up the little chatter and kept the bike settled while still resisting bottoming out on big hits. Thanks to the adjustability of the air forks we were able to play with the pressure, going a little stiffer to help hold up the front end.
Ride Engineering installed front and rear braided steel lines, a 270 wave rotor kit and their own billet brake caliper to improve braking power,. RE’s brake caliper offers more openings for better airflow and cooling. It also uses larger pistons and flexes less in comparison to stock. The larger pistons change the ratio with the stock master-cylinder, providing more power with less effort over a longer stroke. The braking setup feels a lot different and takes a few laps to get accustom to the feel. With the longer pull at the lever, it is easier to modulate and not as on/off as the stock front brake. It is also far more powerful than the stock setup.
Adding to the fun factor was a full Yoshimura exhaust system. Improving bottom end snap while keeping a smooth pull through the mid into a strong top end. Thankfully, the Yosh system isn’t ear-bleeding loud but still provides a nice deep, throaty sound. This RM-Z450 is also dripping with Ride Engineering goodies like wheel spacers with flanges that lock them into place, making it easy to remove and install wheels without the spacers falling out. The Ride Engineering axle blocks are easy to read and insure proper chain alignment.
Most 450 riders aren’t 150 pounds, so softening and revalving the suspension probably isn’t at the top of the to-do list. But if lowering the backend of your Suzuki and improving stability interests you, the Ride Engineering link and Showa steering stabilizer are pretty cool additions. Simple things like the SDG seat makes a big difference simply by keeping your butt and body weight from sliding back, reducing fatigue and keeping the body in the proper position. The Yosh exhaust looks great and boosts overall power but isn’t an absolute necessity for riders on a budget. The big handling changes on the Ride Engineering RM-Z450 come from the link and Showa steering damper. There are many different cost levels to this project bike, which showcases Ride Engineering’s available product offering. The reality is most riders aren’t going to drop $4000 to replicate this bike, but there are cool elements that can stand alone as improvements and performance upgrades. If you have the cash, looking good can make you feel good, which can make you ride even better!
Ride Engineering RM-Z450 Parts List (www.ride-engineering.com 949-722-8354)
Billet Brake Caliper ($399.95)
270 Wave Rotor kit ($265)
Braided Steel Front Brake Line ($69.95) Rear Brake Line ($57.95) Mount ($34.95)
Performance Link ($209.95)
20mm Offset Triple Clamps ($499.90) One-Piece Bar mount ($99.95) Poly Cones ($24.95)
RMZ450 Steering Damper Bracket ($99.95)
Showa 20mm Steering Damper ($240)
Engine Plugs ($39.95) Oil Cap ($21.95) Axle Blocks ($47.95) Brake Clevis ($44.95) Kill Button ($49.95)
Front & Rear Locking Wheel Spacers ($31.95/pair) Front Mast Cyl Cover ($27.95) Rear Cov ($24.95)
JM Racing www.jm-racing.com (618) 455-3152 ($380 revalve, $115 for spring)
Yoshimura www.yoshimura-rd.com (909) 628-4722 (RS-4 Ti-CF $995)
Renthal www.renthal.com (661) 257-2986
Flu Designs www.fludesigns.com (888) 519-2313
MotoSport Hillsboro www.hillsboromotorcycles.com (800) 809-MOTO
Dunlop www.dunlopmotorcycle.com (800) 845-8378
SDG www.sdg-innovations.com (949) 752-5227 ($65.99)
Protaper www.protaper.com (951) 736-5369