Off roaders impression of an 08 RMZ 450

I’ve been on the Suzuki board for about 3 weeks now and I don’t believe I’ve seen an off road review of this bike. So I guess here is my take on this incredible bike. I’m 5’9” and about 210lbs without gear. I don’t race but I have ridden with racers who are at the expert or “A” level and for the most part keep up with them.

I ride a variety of trails from tight single track to wide open desert to very steep sandy hill climbs. The bikes I’ve ridden before are: mine 03 CRF450R, a friend’s 07 CRF450R, a friends 05 CRF450X, a friends 06 KTM 450XC, and mine 03 YZ250.

Starting cold can be a little frustrating. I kick it over slowly about 5 times, and then I find TDC and give it a good kick. It fires up for about 2 seconds and dies. It will then take about another 5 kicks at TDC before she fires up cleanly. Once fired up she idles extremely smooth, so there is no need to throttle up and down like we use to have to do on carb equipped bikes.

Starting warm at low elevation is as simple as pulling in the hot start lever or not and kick away. The bike seems to start most of the time on the first kick. My last 2 rides where at 5000ft and higher. Here is were I ran into trouble. I’ll start by saying I always got the bike started, but starting became very erratic. Sometimes one kick and other times 5 or more kicks. No methods seemed to work consistently. Here are the two methods I tried (no throttle): pulling in hot start lever and TDC, not pulling in hot start lever and TDC. If anyone has come across a better method please share! Hopefully as the bike breaks in more this will become easier.

The manual says you should be able to start the bike in gear, but again this was also very erratic at best. Sometimes it would, but most of the time I had to find neutral. Maybe as the bike breaks in more this will become easier.

The engine is just incredible. I read all the reviews about how there was no over rev and to tell you the truth yes I did notice that. The power definitely doesn’t pull through the roof and tapers off quickly, but for me it matches my style perfectly. My normal shifting point is right at about the time the engine tapers off. I like to lug my bikes and ride a gear high. The power on this bad boy is so deceiving. When you twist that throttle the acceleration is literally instantaneous and it doesn’t matter what gear you’re in or how badly the engine is being lugged. This thing is a torque monster right off throttle. It almost seemed like the engineers tuned this bad boy for off roading then MXing. I very rarely needed the clutch and 2nd gear was fine for most of the tight single tracks. For the faster single track 3rd gear was a perfect match and because of the torque this engine produced, you didn’t have to shift much at all. The R’s feel faster but in reality they are not! This bike puts the power down well and cruising in 5th gear, full throttle her and lean back slightly and you are rewarded with a nice wheelie.

Just to show you how deceptive the power is on this bike, the picture below is in CA and a place called the Phalen sand hills. The sand is extremely soft and robs power quickly. The only way any bike is going to make it to the top is in 3rd gear. Any lower and the bike just digs in. My 03 YZ 250 got about ¾ of the way up. My 03 CRF 450R with a Rekluse got about ¾ of a way up. I then pulled out the Rekluse and was able to make it up, but clutching heavily at the end in 3rd. My buddies 07 CRF 450R went up a little easier then my bike, but I still had to do some clutching in 3rd gear. My friends 06 KTM 450XC can only get about ¾ of the way up. My 08 RM-Z 450 screamed to the top of this hill so fast I had to chop the throttle because I was going to fly over the top!


Brakes performed like I expected and the best complement I can give them is I didn’t notice them.

Suspension still needs some break in and I’ve backed off the clickers 6 clicks. The suspension right now doesn’t like rocks or square edge hits and tends to deflect, but I think this is typical of MX suspensions. The best way to ride this bike is aggressive and standing. Slow riding or cruising will beat you up. This thing turns on a dime and I haven’t notice any straight line stability issue so far. I still need to buy a stabilizer bracket for my Scotts. So hopefully after a few more rides, the suspension will get more complaint.

Fuel efficiency is a little disappointing about 25mpg. Hopefully after break in this will improve, but I’m not counting on it. I may have to buy a Power Commander III and lean out the mixture a little. This may also help improve starting and over rev capabilities.

Overall I’m extremely impressed with this bike and I love fuel injection. No worries about weather, humidity, or attitude. Just fire it up and go!

nice writeup bellec....imagine the bike with a few focused mods!! What those team offroad guys are doing on that bike is simply amazing!!

nice writeup bellec....imagine the bike with a few focused mods!! What those team offroad guys are doing on that bike is simply amazing!!

Any idea of what they do to their bikes? (Team Suzuki Off-Road)

I think the biggest thing is the remapping of the FI for offroad...well that and the WORKS RG3 suspension!!

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