All-New 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450

When the all-new 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 was announced, a buzz started circulating through the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC offices , and we began anxiously awaiting the release date so we could get our hands on one. We couldn’t wait to see what the new bike could do.

September finally rolled around, and as soon as we got possession of our new RM-Z450, we promptly headed out to the track to spin some laps, lock in some first impressions, and see how Suzuki did. No doubt about it, we were impressed. Suzuki did their homework and designed an amazing, lighter-weight, powerful bike. Yet sometimes a good thing can be made even better, and that’s how we felt about the 2018 RM-Z450. So we brought the bike into the shop and got to work. Keep reading to see what we did!

Engine Work

The first thing that we tackled on this bike build was the engine. Suzuki went through and revamped the entire motor for 2018, and overall, the results are impressive. The outcome was a very smooth, linear engine that is easy to ride and that delivers reliably consistent power. However, the engine just didn’t have the torque we wanted at the bottom range of the power curve. We wanted the engine to have more of a bite and deliver a little more power and excitement right off the start.

2018 RM-Z450 Bike Build

To address what we felt the engine was lacking, we took the motor to Proven Moto to have some custom engine work done. Matt at Proven Moto put the bike on the dyno first thing to see where the performance levels were and to see what the engine was lacking. From there, he did some custom porting to really fine-tune the performance and then followed that up with some surface machining to increase the compression.

Taking Some Laps with the Finished Bike

Once the engine work was done, we installed the FMF 4.1 Full Titanium Exhaust on the bike. Matt then put the bike back on the dyno to adjust the fuel mapping and to see the overall results. The engine’s peak horsepower increased by about four horsepower with the mods, and the power curve was significantly adjusted. The improvements boosted the torque in the bottom end and dramatically increased the pull right out of the gate. Even though the changes yielded huge performance gains, the bike is still able to use the stock piston, the stock cams, and run off of pump gas – giving us the reliability of a stock motor with the performance of aftermarket mods.

FMF 4.1 Aftermarket Exhaust

To round out our engine work on the RM-Z450, we switched out the stock clutch for a full set of Hinson billet aluminum clutch components. The Hinson clutch kits add the extra touch to the engine by smoothing out clutch engagement and improving performance by managing heat and friction more efficiently.

Hinson Clutch Components

Suspension

Suspension on the new 2018 RM-Z450 has been a hot topic this year. Not only did Suzuki return to fork springs from air forks, they also introduced the Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock. Our initial impression of the suspension from our test ride was that overall, Suzuki did a pretty good job. We adjusted the sag and messed around with the rebound and compression to try and get the settings where we needed them to feel comfortable out on the track. Getting it where we wanted it took a few tries, but overall, the suspension was fairly predictable by the end of the day.

Christening the Build on the Track

However, there were a few areas where we felt the suspension could be improved with some re-valving. One issue we noticed with the forks was they weren’t holding up very well in the mid-stroke, causing the front end to dive when coming into the corners and the back end to spring up.

We sent the suspension off to Race Tech in Southern California, where they used a Type 3 Gold Valve Combo Kit to re-valve the forks and a G3/LD Shock Gold Valve Kit to re-valve the shock. Race Tech made all of the necessary adjustments and redid the suspension settings based off of the weight, skill and riding style of our rider, customizing the bike specifically to his needs. The result was a lot more hold up in the forks and huge improvements in the dampening and absorption.

Aftermarket Grips and Levers Can Make All the Difference

Creature Comforts

With performance and suspension covered, we moved on to aftermarket accessories to help us feel more comfortable and planted on the bike while we’re out on the track.

We addressed the grips and controls first thing by switching out the stock grips for the ODI Lock-On Grips instead for a softer feel. We added the Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch along with an A.R.C. Breakaway Brake Lever. Both helped out with the overall ergonomics and ease of the handlebar controls, and each contributed additional features such as improved grip and breakaway capabilities.

Graphics for the New Build

In order to keep us more firmly seated and planted on the bike, we added a Motoseat Seat Cover and the ProPegs Titanium Foot Pegs. The texture of the seat cover gives the needed grip to keep its rider from sliding around on the seat, and the wide base and aggressive design of the footpegs help the rider’s boots stay firmly planted while out on the track.

Bling Factor

The remainder of the build was directed towards nice-to-have items to polish off the look we were going for on the 2018 RM-Z450. We wanted the wheels to really stand out, so we switched out the stock wheels for the Tusk Impact Rim Set. The gold hubs really complimented the suspension elements and helped give the bike more of a factory look. We added the Michelin Starcross 5 Soft Terrain Tires as well.

Tusk Aftermarket Components

We polished off the bike with a custom graphics kit by Attack Graphics, and a number of anodized Tusk accessories to give a pop of color here and there and tie the look together.

Spinning Some Laps at Bunkerhill

When it comes to doing a build on a brand new bike, the old adage “don’t fix what ain’t broken” is a good motto to keep in mind. The 2018 RM-Z450 is a solid bike right off the showroom floor, so we didn’t feel the need to try to reinvent the wheel with our build. With a few adjustments here and there, and some custom parts to make this bike one-of-a-kind, we were able to turn a great bike into something even better that we can enjoy for a long time to come.

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Tell Us What You Think

All the parts we used in the build can be found in the links below. Let us know what you liked about this build and what you would do to this RM-Z450 if it was your bike!

Products Used in the Build

Race Tech Type 3 Gold Valve Combo Kit FMF Factory-4.1 RCT Anodized System with Carbon End Cap Odi V2 Half Waffle MX Lock-On Grips
Race Tech Type 3 Gold Valve Combo Kit FMF Factory-4.1 RCT Anodized System with Carbon End Cap Odi V2 Half Waffle MX Lock-On Grips
A.R.C. Flex Brake Lever Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch Assembly Tusk Anodized Front Brake Reservoir Cap
A.R.C. Flex Brake Lever Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch Assembly Tusk Anodized Front Brake Reservoir Cap
Tusk Anodized Rear Brake Reservoir Cap Tusk Billet Aluminum Engine Plug Kit ProPegs Titanium Foot Pegs
Tusk Anodized Rear Brake Reservoir Cap Tusk Billet Aluminum Engine Plug Kit ProPegs Titanium Foot Pegs
Attack Graphics Custom Complete Graphics Kit Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear Wheel Kit Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon Brake Rotor, Rear
Attack Graphics Custom Complete Graphics Kit Tusk Impact Complete Front/Rear Wheel Kit Tusk Stainless Steel Typhoon Brake Rotor, Rear
Hinson FSC Clutch Plate and Spring Kit Hinson Clutch Basket Hinson Billetproof Inner Clutch Hub/Pressure Plate Kit
Hinson FSC Clutch Plate and Spring Kit Hinson Clutch Basket Hinson Billetproof Inner Clutch Hub/Pressure Plate Kit
Hinson Billetproof Clutch Cover Motoseat Seat Cover Michelin StarCross 5 Soft Terrain Tire Rear
Hinson Billetproof Clutch Cover Motoseat Seat cover Michelin StarCross 5 Soft Terrain Tire, Front and Rear
Works Connection Tach/Hour Meter with Resettable Maintenance Timer
Works Connection Tach/Hour Meter with Resettable Maintenance Timer