Is Team Suzuki testing the waters for an off-road 4-stroke

Team Suzuki Off-Road coordinator/mechanic/semi driver Shane Nalley is not only well versed in the off-road via his passion for the woods, his machines meet the criteria for a woods weapon and the cruiser division of rideable and fun. Here, T-Dub captured Mr. Nalley riding his Butter bike-a modified dual sporter.

Team Suzuki’s Shane Nalley not only has an impressive resume as a Factory Mechanic; his off-road riding skills are A level and his fitness rates another top grade since the majority of his free time is spent on hammering on a bicycle. We met up with Shane with his own personal machines, one of which mirrors a full factory off-roader and the other being a softened machine designed for dirt friendly dual sporting.


Mr. Ballistic is a virtual copy of the factory off-road racers. The suspension is ‘works’, the power is fiery (for the woods) and the handling is sharp.

Here’s Shane’s look into the off-road race machine, what was changed and why.

“After a lot of pre-season testing we came up with a really strong package for the RM-Z. Internally, a Hinson clutch basket adds durability over stock and this is very important for 2 to 2 1/2 hour events. Power, or the lack of it in its off-road status is really a non-issue. What is crucial is tuning the powerband to work for both the rider and the conditions. FMF’s Mega-bomb header not only enhances the bottom power, it also maintains really strong top end. While the standard Mega Bomb is ti, we’ve been testing with stainless units that quite honestly work better for off-road. The titanium gets too soft when it’s hot and dents, bends and pocks out too easily from roost. The stainless is stronger and takes a smacking without warping. With the muffler we can actually tune the powerband depending on which system we fit up. The Q-4 muffler adds backpressure, which helps low end throttle response and helps fight stalling.  Paul Whibley and Jimmy Jarrett choose this pipe.  Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins choose the 4.1, which is straight from the motocross world and it makes for more RPM and has a more free feeling during acceleration.  With the Fuel, the mapping is the same on all bikes and is a Yoshimura setting for after market pipes. It basically leans out the bottom and middle substantially and then adds a little fuel on top.  This makes for a very crisp throttle response at all throttle-body openings, plus helps considerably with fuel mileage.  We generally use 6.66 tenths per lap at most GNCC races.’ 

The Team uses Hinson clutches (stronger and more durable than stock), a bevy of Works Connection parts ranging from their radiator guards, to their AOF clutch perch and FMF exhaust systems. On the Ballistic machine a Mega Bomb header makes for a stronger hit (over stock and FMF’s Power Bomb).

“The biggest change in this year’s bike was switching to the RG3 20mm triple clamps and link combination.  The 20’s when compared to the stock 21.5 offer noticeably better cornering, and when you add the link it becomes a different bike.  The transition from braking to acceleration is reduced with the RG3 link because the rear stays down and gives you more confidence in the turns.  Incredibly, the bike is still stable at speed and handles even the ugliest of off-road obstacles quite nicely.  This year’s 450 off-road suspension setting was based on Josh Strang’s input and has worked in all conditions.  Whib’s setting is slightly different due to his riding style and Mullins/Jarrett use the Strang setting.  Naturally, the components are all full factory Showa parts, offering not only bigger shaft sizes, but with high-end coatings that equal smoother action. RG3 valves all of our damping units after we come up with settings that pretty much work for all of our conditions back in the real world of woods racing. Zip-Ty’s shark fin is a must for off road racing.  I love Zip-Ty’s products because they’re not only sano, look killer but they’re also more functional than stock. It shows in their wheels spacers that don’t fall out, their permanent chain adjusters, and Ty’s waterless coolant is a must for off road and since we’ve used it we have not had any cooling issues.  Ty’s Reservoir extension is important to guys like Jarrett that really use their rear brake.” 

The RG3 link pretty much does away with the progressive feel of the stock linkage and creates a feel with more predictability and more control in acceleration hack and braking bumps.

“Works Connection built an excellent skid plate for off road this year and the clutch perch and bling kit is always a must.  Remember, I’m a mechanic first and the sucker better look great or I’m gonna go nuts. Regina’s O-ring chain always holds up to off road racing and the TM designs chain guide and buffer is a necessity.  This years IMS tank is the best-shaped tank we’ve ever had and at 2.6 gallons is pretty big for the room we had to work with.  We’ve tried all gearing options and all are happy with 13/51 with the exception of Whibley who uses a 13/50 combo.  Renthal Twin-Wall bars, the 999 MC bend for Whibley and Mullins, while Strang and myself use the 997 RC.  Acerbis plastics, handguards, and disk cover fit perfectly and hold up well, plus the foot peg covers keep out the mud.  Twin-Air filters and cover are needed from muddy races to dusty ones.  CV4 hoses are really high quality and add a finished look to the engine and N-style graphics always look great and the gripper seat really helps.  I’ve done several races this year of different types from hare scramble to grand prix and grass track motocross and couldn’t be happier with the bike for racing.” 


With softer than stock power and suspension compliance dramatically increased, the Butter bike loves rock zones.

“When it came time to do some dual sport events I thought the bike might be a little much, so I decide to tame it down a little.  We had a suspension setting for the roots of Georgia for Josh and he thought it was too soft for racing so I said, “Sounds good for dual sport.”  Then I put the set on my bike.  I kept the standard damping units with settings noticeably softer in the initial part of the stroke and it worked very well in rocks and roots.  This really makes those long rides in the saddle nice.  I tried the RG3 20s and their link with this setting and it simply too soft.  So I stuck with the stock clamp and link for this bike.  The suspension balance was nice, the action super cushy and in boney conditions it flattened the terrain incredibly well. The next task was the engine (performance) and by simply putting on the FMF Q-4 slip on exhaust system with the SA screen we really smoothed out the power and softened the decibel level.  I did extensive header testing and found that the standard FMF Power Bomb header (not the Mega Bomb) somehow freed up, softened and made the bottom to mid response super spot on for woods trailing. It feels more controllable, tractable and friendly.”

The Butter Bikes Power Bomb is stainless and when combined with FMF’s Q not only softens the hit, it spreads it nicely with the result being a predictable, controllable and palatable powerband. It’s amazing considering that there were no other motor mods!

“ Making lights work on this bike was easier than expected.  I used an Acerbis headlight and LED tail light and simply hooked a battery harness from the Suzuki LTZ 450 Quad to the power up plug on the RMZ.  Walla, illumination!  The Pro Moto Billet side stand completed the package for enduro and dual sport.  Their flip up stand is completely sano, tucks in nicely and is super strong. “

The race bike uses a Zip-Ty shark fin while the Butter bike doesn’t. Both are fit with DP brake pads, Renthal sprockets and Regina chain.
“Here’s the bottom line, I think the exhaust system is the most important modification because if the bike is not smooth it’s going to be very difficult to ride in the woods.  Second comes the suspension, since most bikes are set up for motocross they’re way too thick and over-damped for true off-road.  This year’s RM-Z 450 made such a good off road bike due to the combination of the EFI and excellent chassis.  The EFI stays consistent in all conditions (mud and dust) and helps with the smooth power delivery.  I’ve been in both worlds and really enjoy the off-road scene and it’s been great to be a part of such a successful team.  Suzuki has really put a lot into off road and it has paid off.”

Acerbis gators keep yuck and goo from invading the footpeg mounts.

The Butter Bike: stock motor, softer power via FMF Q and Power Bomb. IMS tank, Acerbis lights, RG3 suspension all make this into a Shane Nalley favorite. While the machine is certainly not 50-state legal, Shane uses it for dual sport rides where the laws are lenient enough to permit his modified machine.

An IMS tank is mandatory for elevation to off-road status and for the true woods enthusiast; the Pro Moto Billet sidestand is brilliant. It mounts easily, tucks up perfectly and is lightweight.

An RG3 top clamp on Mr. Butter gives a bit of cush via the rubber mounted 4-point system. They also gave the fork (and shock) their mondo plush setting for a cushy ride.

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