Dear Mr. Know-It-All,

I have a dilemma concerning off-road and motocross. I love both disciplines—the speed and jumps of MX, and the technical challenge of a good, gnarly off-road loop. I haven’t hit the lotto, so I can afford only one bike. I have a chance to buy a left-over 2017 Suzuki RM-Z450, brand-new at an amazing price. Can I make this handle the fun factor for both disciplines?
Chuck Bledsoe
Via [email protected]

Chuck, today’s dirt bikes are becoming increasingly specialized. The current crop of lightweight, fuel-injected, two-stroke enduro bikes are absolute works versions of yesterday’s RMX and KDX equipment. Nearly every respectable machine comes fit with a button. Some are fuel-injected, and, in the case of the KTM/Husky, internal counter-balancers virtually eliminate the vibration that used to knock the fillings out of your molars. On the other side of the proverbial nickel, the factory-edition KTM, Husky and Honda MX offerings are truly works bikes available to the public. But, the crossover ability of these bikes is not great. Each species is focused on its craft, be it off-road or moto. Even the cross-country versions offered by KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha and Honda are far more MX tainted than enduro-friendly.

But, getting back to your question, the late-model Suzuki 450 motocrosser can hit every jump at your local track, and, with a little finesse, can handle a technical trail with a modicum of success. One huge drawback is the lack of electric start. If you’re an older rider, kicking gets really old on a long trail ride. On the positive side, the RM-Z450 starts quite well. Fuel tank size is an issue, but frankly, fuel injection has helped increase gas mileage considerably. I know of riders who get 40 miles quite easily on their MX-based machines that they ride off-road. Getting the suspension to work in both disciplines is always going to be a compromise. First off, the aluminum frames are stiff. The suspension comes valved and sprung to handle steep jump faces and big landings, not the trail carnage that a fluid and softly setup machine can absorb. Still, valving it lighter helps. Using a handlebar with flex (Flexx bars) helps it to chew on hacky terrain, and always use the softest mapping plug the bike comes with. My friends have had better luck with the stock exhaust than aftermarket, though an FMF Q lowers the decibel level and calms things down. One of the best mods you can make is fitting your machine with a Rekluse Radius CX clutch. This allows you to pretty much flush the flame-outs down the commode, which is a big deal in tight, technical terrain on a big-bore four-stroke motocrosser.
The bottom line is that you’re able to ride where you want and still dabble in both forms of off-roading. Trust me on this: if your buddy with the new ISDE KTM 300 TPI hits the motocross track with you, he’ll be hating any big jump as much as a rocky uphill gives you fits.


Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
Here’s a picture of my forks. I want to ride this weekend. Can you help?
Marv Walters
Via [email protected]



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