Racer X Tested: RM-Z450 Project BikeWednesday, February 14, 2007 | 12:27 PM
I’ve been racing for a long time, but I have never really been one to mess with my bikes. The only thing I have ever had worked on is suspension—revalve and softer springs (as I weigh a buck-forty-five soaking wet) and maybe an aftermarket pipe. As far as engine mods, ignition tweaks, etc., I’ve never really felt the need, as bikes these days are solid right out of the crate. Having said that, I was very curious to see how I would get on with this bike, especially after having ridden it bone stock.
One of the main features of the Hot Cams bike is the Tokyo Mods 10-map performance igntion. The entire stock CDI unit is replaced with the Tokyo Mods system. The Tokyo Mods ignition has ten different curves instead of one. There is a dial located behind the front number plate with numbers 1 to 10, and each setting gives the bike a different power characteristic and can be switched back and forth depending on track conditions, personal preference, etc. There is a switch on the handlebar that has two settings: Power-Map #1 (Good Overall) is the default setting, which means if the switch was to get knocked off mid-race, the ignition would automatically go to this setting. When the switch is moved to the opposite position, you will then be on the setting that is currently on the dial. I started off with Power-Map #2 (Traction).
The main thing that impressed me about the stock Suzuki initially was its ability to turn and its overall handling. The new suspension setup made these characteristics significantly better, and the engine modifications complemented the suspension set up. The stock engine-mount brackets had also been replaced with the Tokyo Mods engine brackets, which are designed to change the center of gravity of the bike and improve overall handling, which also contributed to the good handling of the bike. I left Perris very happy with the Hot Cams RMZ and couldn’t wait to try it on a different track.
The next time I rode the bike was a few days later at Glen Helen on the national track. This is a completely different type of track to Perris. Where Perris is tight and choppy with little elevation change, Glen Helen is very fast in parts, very rough with bigger bumps, and has lots of elevation changes with fast uphills and fast downhills, not to mention a completely different type of dirt. Perris is tacky and loamy, Glen Helen (at least on practice days) is hard-pack in parts and sandy in others...and ALWAYS rough as hell.
I switched the ignition setting to Power-Map #3 (Smooth Power) to see how that would work on the Glen Helen circuit. I must say, I was very surprised to see how different the power of the bike was by switching the ignition map. The power came on a lot smoother off the bottom (hence the description of the Power-Map!) but the power kept coming—which I found suited my style much better. It was also good for the hard-pack sections of the track. I also made a few more tweaks to the suspension to dial it in more and was really starting to feel at home on the Hot Cams RM-Z.
“I currently have a bone stock RM-Z450 at home, and I couldn’t believe the difference between the stocker and Langers’ modified bike,” Billy explained. “My first impression of the bike was how smooth the power was on the bike. Some 450s tend to just want to rip your arms off, but not this Suzuki. The power came on strong and kept going and going. I felt like I needed an airport runway to get this thing up to top speed!
“As for the suspension, it was my first time riding on MB1 stuff, but I was really surprised. It was set just right for me, as well. I’m a bit heavier than Langers, and I bottomed out only once. The suspension was working great on the choppy Perris Raceway.
“After riding the bike, I’m definitely going to use some of these modifications on my personal RM-Z450 because this stuff worked so good. This bike is probably the closest you can get to a full-on factory bike!”
If you are at the level with your racing where you are trying to get an edge over the competition, it is definitely worth looking into these companies and the modifications and parts that they offer. A beginner or novice would certainly benefit from the MB1 suspension setup as well.
I liked the RM-Z to begin with, but with the all modifications, I can honestly say that this is the best bike I’ve ridden, and I can’t wait to race it.