Suzuki RMX450Z, 122.8kg, 948mm seat height.
The Welsh trails can be a challenge at the best of times, but chuck in a few million cubic gallons of water, a Siberian ski season and a lack of riding over Christmas and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was the first to succumb to the Suzuki’s slightly more quick-fire power delivery, and fling it rudely across the floor - albeit at fairly low speed.
Despite first impressions that the Suzuki’s probably not the most powerful 450 in class, I remarked in last month’s launch test that it can still catch you out at the bottom end (okay, what I actually said was “it can feel a bit ‘cammy’ at walking pace’…. and…. “it’s no plodder”, and having ridden it a second time, I stand by those remarks).
Just like a motocrosser, the RMX wants to pull hard from low down - when sometimes all you need is to be carried along on a melody of throttle, the RMX comes blasting in with some monster powerchords! And if the volume’s too low then the music stops completely and getting it to start up again can be quite a chore. Sometimes the starter churns for a good five or ten seconds before the motor comes chiming into life.
This is strangely at odds with Suzuki’s usual high standards of fuelling on their injected bikes and makes me think that there’s a little more set-up work needed to get the RMX’s fuelling spot-on right at the bottom. Not that there’s a hiccup or a flat-spot (there isn’t), cit’s just that the transition between stalling and wheelspin is hard to judge.
Okay, it’s not a bike designed for Long Distance Trials, but it does make finessing the power on slippery going a little bit more awkward than it needs to be. Once above walking pace I loved the Suzuki’s power delivery, which was broad and strong, but never overpowering. But I have to say that not everyone agreed with me. Paul ‘Elvis’ Davis is a decent trials rider and an expert enduro rider to boot, but he felt the ‘RMX’s power was a bit too on/off’ cfor his liking. Whilst Terry Brooks commented that ‘the vibes were awful.’
I know what he means and while personally I didn’t find the vibes all that intrusive, you are aware that it isn’t quite as smooth as any of the other bikes here, that’s for sure. Interestingly, Elvis’ riding buddy, Darren Jones reckoned that the ‘RMX has an awesome engine’ cand that ‘the power would get you out of any situation.’ cAdding that he felt the bike had ‘intermediate sort of power’ which was ‘especially good from the midrange up…’
There were mixed reviews for the suspension too which Elvis felt was ‘too heavily sprung for the trail’, and Darren agreed: ‘The RMX has a more harsher ride, but could probably be adjusted to suit the rider.’
And I agree with that - okay it wasn’t quite as softly sprung as the other bikes, and in the heavy conditions we encountered, that made it seem quite firm and unforgiving, but I suspect there will be many riders that use their bikes on firmer, faster going where the Suzuki’s Showas will come into their own. At least everyone agreed that the RMX’s Nissin front brake was the best of the bunch with all the feel and retardation you could possibly need. And that’s some accolade, because the Sherco has an absolutely blinding set of anchors, while both the Berg and KTM use the latest design of Brembos which are a massive improvement on the old design.
When it came to the riding position it was a split victory once again with 6ft tall Darren and me (5ft 11in) favouring the roomy RMX, while Paul and Terry (5ft 7in) both preferred the more compact Berg. As Darren put in: ‘On the RMX my feet felt planted all the time, my hands were in the right position and the seat and tank were narrower.’ And I’ve got to say I agree wholeheartedly with that. I felt most at home on the RMX and KTM, followed by the Sherco and Berg in that order!
So was the RMX an Easy Rider as such….? Well no it wasn’t, at least not in this context and in these particular conditions, but it needs other bikes to put it into perspective, that’s why multi-bike shootouts are so useful. It’s also worth pointing out that the RMX is a full 450cc and had we brought the more powerful 450EXC and Bergs along for the ride, then the outcome may well have been different. Suffice it to say that the RMX is a fabulous sport-trailie - albeit one with the emphasis firmly on sport and with a slightly more aggressive power delivery than a typical 400 (and some 450s). It has awesome brakes, a brilliant riding position and a great chassis but in this context among Easy Riders, it can’t claim the gong.