2010 Suzuki RM-Z450 First Impression

Jean Turner | December 21, 2009

For the second time this year, we’ve managed to be the first to get our greedy paws on a new 2010 Suzuki. First was the all-new 250cc shootout-winning RM-Z250 and recently we’ve also scored some time on its big brother, the significantly revised 2010 RM-Z450.

We were first introduced to the new ‘Zook at Milestone MX in Riverside, California, where we also got to take it for a few motos on some fresh, wet dirt (always a treat in SoCal)! Although it was a brief rendezvous, we feel we’ve come away with a fairly well-rounded first impression of the new RM-Z450.

What’s New?

Suzuki didn’t set out to re-invent the wheel with the ’10 RM-Z450, but a handful of moderate revisions focus on all-over refinements to the chassis, motor and fuel injection system.

In the motor department, Suzuki aimed at improving power from top to bottom. New intake and exhaust cams and a revised intake tract were designed to boost power in the low, mid and top-end range and also give the RM-Z more mid-range punch. Further assisting in power improvement is a revised fuel-injection system. The 450 comes with two pre-programmed ignition map settings – one standard and one leaner setting (for high humidity and/or altitude). The FI is adjustable through mode-select couplers behind the front number plate.

The chassis is also thoroughly re-worked for 2010 starting with the frame. New flex characteristics aim at improving straight-line stability without sacrificing the RM-Z’s noted sharp-handling capabilities. Coupled with the new-generation frame are revised suspension settings, which include stiffer spring rates both front and rear.

Track Time

Our time with the RM-Z450 was limited in terms of both time and location, but we probably couldn’t have picked a better track or a better day for the ‘Zook to showcase its sharpened skills. Though the jumpy and technical Milestone track didn’t allow us to really open ‘er up, and the smooth terrain wasn’t much of a challenge for the suspension, the biggest thing we noticed about the RM-Z is its cornering and jumping prowess – where we feel this bike truly excels.

Power is, indeed, more robust than ever starting right off the bottom. Though still linear and crisp everywhere, the new RM-Z packs a noticeably bigger punch in the low- to mid-range which our Vet Pro tester loved. But the power comes with quite a bit more vibration than its predecessors – which only seemed to bother our novice tester.

Suspension action kept things gripping quite nicely, but isn’t what we’d call “plush” especially up front which we thought was a little harsh. Still, handling is top notch on the Suzuki (as always).

“It doesn’t matter if there’s a rut or not; this bike just wants to turn,” our Vet Pro tester commented. “Even if you change your mind mid-turn and want to go sharper, this bike is willing!”

More impressive yet is now nimble the RM-Z feels in the air. With 250F-like aerial agility, the 450 is very confidence inspiring. Though we didn’t weight it on a scale, its compact ergos and narrow feel coupled with the super-responsive power make the RM-Z450 exceptionally light on its feet. As our test rider described, “Flickable is an understatement.” 

Watch the pages of Cycle News for a more thorough account of our first-impression of the 2010 Suzuki RM-Z450.

Jean Turner | Contributor

A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.