Common Tread

Racing technology trickles down: Launch control and air fork for 2015 RM-Z450

May 19, 2014

Motorcycle manufacturers like to talk about how the technology developed for the top levels of racing trickles down to us ordinary mortals, but that promise sometimes falls short. The 2015 RM-Z450 just unveiled by Suzuki has two new features, however, that are a good example of stock motorcycles getting some of the technology the pros enjoy.

In 2012, Kawasaki released the first stock motocross bike with launch control, and the following year both Kawasaki and Honda released 450-class bikes with air fork technology. Those features, coupled with Kawasaki's sweep of the 450 and 250 Supercross classes, put the pressure on others to follow, and Suzuki is answering with its own version of launch control and air fork.

The 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450. Suzuki photo.

Suzuki Holeshot Assist Control Technology

Suzuki says that the Holeshot Assist Control will be operated by a toggle on the left side of the handlebar and will allow riders to toggle between two settings, depending on the traction conditions. “A Mode” brings enhanced traction and less wheel slip and was designed with harder packed dirt in mind. “B Mode” provides a more aggressive launch and is for times when the dirt gives maximum grip. Suzuki say that Holeshot Assist Technology is programmed to return the ignition timing to its regular setting after the launch so riders have a dependable engine response by the time they hit the first turn.

Look, no springs. Suzuki photo.
Showa SFF Air Fork

The SFF Air fork has been on the bikes we watch in Supercross for a while now, but finally makes its way to the stock RM-Z for the 2015 model. Riders like James Stewart, Josh Hill and Broc Tickle use it because they say it provides a more progressive feeling suspension and is almost infinitely adjustable. Not to mention, it’s also 2.5 pounds lighter than the traditional, spring-style fork. Adjustments to the SFF Air Fork are made with a hand pump.

Additional updates for 2015 include revisions to the kick-starting system which should make the RM-Z easier to kick, as well as an updated cooling system which Suzuki claims is 16 percent more efficient. They’ve also worked on improving the gear matching for better shift feeling, redesigned the frame to make it 4 percent lighter, and updated the exhaust to meet new AMA sound regulations.

The Suzuki RM-Z450 you buy from your local dealer isn't going to measure up to Stewart's Yoshimura Suzuki-prepped race bike, but weekend amateur motocrossers are going to the starting gate with increasing amounts of trickle-down racing technology that's been proven in the big stadiums on Saturday nights.