2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 | Motocross Review

2013 Suzuki RM-Z 450 Test

As the old saying goes, “What wins on Sunday sells on Monday,” and on the 2013 Suzuki RM-Z, Davi Millsaps has been doing just that, and he leads the AMA Monster Energy Supercross championship series after five rounds!

This is nothing new. The Suzuki RM-Z450  has done a lot of winning for a bike that has only been produced for eight years. In its very first year of production, Ricky Carmichael won the 2005 outdoor national championship on the RM-Z450. The GOAT then followed it up again in 2006.

In 2009, Chad Reed won his one and only outdoor title on the RM-Z in what was his only year riding the Suzuki. Also in 2009, having never raced a 450 professionally, Ryan Dungey went out and won the Motocross of Nations. Dungey followed that up with a 450 title of his own in 2010, and that was his rookie 450 season!

With a racing resume like that, and with a production based rule here in American motocross, Suzuki has an excellent base to work from. The 2013 RM-Z450 doesn’t look that much different than the ’12, however, there where many updates to the bike.

Starting with the motor, it has a new piston that has a 13-percent weight reduction, plus a new piston pin and connecting rod. To help the RM-Z450 motor breath better, it has a new intake cam, exhaust pipe and air box boot.  To keep the bike more reliable, the gears have been resigned and strengthened.

On the chassis side the big news is the switch to the Showa SFF  (Separate Function front Fork), like what the Kawasaki KX250F has. The SFF uses only a spring in the right leg and all the damping is done with the left. Claimed benefits are lighter weight (only one spring and one damping assembly), easier maintenance, and reduced costs to build. Other minor updates where made to the frame, fuel pump, ECU, and the wheel’s dust covers.

Starting up the fuel-injected 449cc DOHC four-valve RM-Z motor is a pretty easy process–just a long kick through the stroke and she fires right up. Hot or cold, the RM-Z is always one or two kicks.

On the track the Suzuki makes great 450 four-stroke power! These days, many four-stroke race bikes forget they are a four-strokes and loose that bottom end grunt that makes thumpers nice to ride.  Suzuki did not make this mistake.

The 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 pulls hard right off the bottom. If you forget to shift down before a corner, no problem–just roll on the throttle at exit and the Suzuki will pull from the lowest rpm up through the healthy mid-range thrust.

If you’re ready for it, just give the clutch a quick stab and you’ll immediately be in the meat of the powerband flying to the next corner of jump!  It doesn’t have the most over rev of any 450 motocrosser, but with this power there is no need for it!

The fuel injection mapping is flawless–never a hiccup, burp or stall. Clutch pull is nice and light for a 450, though it doesn’t have that good feel of a hydraulic clutch. Shifting is smooth, so much so that we never gave it a thought.

Riding the Suzuki RM-Z450 you feel immediately comfortable. The 1-1/8” Renthal Fat Bars have a nice comfortable bend. The seat/bar/peg relationship fit my six-foot frame very nicely.

Suzuki motocross bikes have been known for many years for their great cornering, the 2013 RM-Z450 is no different. Even at 240 pounds, which is the heaviest in its class, the Suzuki turns like no other. However, before the turn, while hard on the brakes, you can feel the weight; the average-at-best front brake does little to help that.

The suspension and frame can both be described as stiff. We played with the suspension clickers to get the bike more compliant through the small rough stuff with some success, but the stiff aluminum chassis feel never went away. It beat us up at anything below full race-pace, this was especially noticeable at the end of the day when tired. The Suzuki RM-Z450 just wants to be ridden hard and aggressive!

Through our test nothing ever came loose or fell off the bike. The only time we put a wrench on it was to check for loose bolts–we never found any.

It’s nice the 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 comes stock with Dunlop MX51 tires, Renthal Fat Bars, and some comfortable grips. This makes going from show room to motocross track any easy process. We didn’t like was the black rear fender that looks old and ugly after only a few hours, even if it looks good on the showroom floor.

Riding the 2013 Suzuki RM-Z450, it is easy to see why this bike wins so much. It features a great motor with a very race-focused chassis, and that makes this production bike a perfect starting point for the factory race bikes–the proof is in Millsaps new-found success.

2013 Suzuki RM-Z450 Specs:


  • Type: 449cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, single cylinder, DOHC
  • Bore Stroke: 96.0mm (3.8 in) x 62.1mm (2.4 in)
  • Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
  • Fuel System: Fuel Injection
  • Starter: Primary kick
  • Lubrication: Semi-dry sump
  • Ignition: Electronic ignition (CDI)


  • Overall Length: 2190 mm (86.2 in)
  • Overall Width: 830 mm (32.7 in)
  • Overall Height: 1270 mm (50.0 in)
  • Wheelbase: 1495 mm (58.9 in)
  • Ground Clearance: 325 mm (12.8 in)
  • Seat Height: 955 mm (37.6 in)
  • Curb Weight: 113 kg (249 lbs)
  • Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
  • Final Drive: Chain, DID520MXV4, 114 links
  • Suspension Front: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
  • Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
  • Brakes Front: Disc brake
  • Brakes Rear: Disc brake
  • Tires Front: 80/100-21 51M, tube type
  • Tires Rear: 110/90-19 62M, tube type
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 6.2 L (1.6 US gallons)
  • Color: Champion Yellow
  • Base MSRP: $8,699

Riding Style:

  • Helmet: Thor Racing Force Carbon
  • Goggles: Thor Racing Hero Wrap Revolve
  • Jersey, gloves and pants: Thor Racing Phase
  • Boots: Thor Racing Ratchet

Chris Cullins is the owner of TEC-Cycles.com

Photography by Jake Klingensmith