Suzuki's race quad gets it right
Since its release in 2006, the Suzuki QuadRacer LT-R450 has been a dominant force in both ATV motocross and GNCC racing. Dustin Wimmer helped prove this by winning back-to-back championships in the AMA Pro ATV Motocross series while aboard the Suzuki. Factory Suzuki rider Chris Borich wrapped up another championship by winning 10 of the 13 rounds of the GNCC series on the LTR. With its wide stance, powerful 450cc four-stoke fuel-injected engine, and plush long-travel suspension, the LT-R450 can be ridden hard or raced right from the dealer’s showroom floor.
We recently had a chance to test out the 2009 Suzuki LT-R450 (MSRP $8,099) over a four-month period. We rode on a variety of terrains, including multiple motocross tracks, numerous trails, and even through the mud holes and up the steep hills at the infamous Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Ind.
The LTR is very easy to start, with the integration of a fuel-injection system. With a push of a button the LTR comes to life without hesitation. The centered exhaust has a deep, powerful sound to it, much like an aftermarket pipe. As you hit the throttle the power is smooth and abundant throughout the RPM range. Power is not as abrupt as some of the other 450cc race machines in its class; but it’s still enough that if you blip the throttle the front end will lift off the ground. Suzuki’s race quad has enough power to rocket you over large jumps or down the trail as quick as you please.
Although the power is more than sufficient, one thing in particular we like about the LTR is how easy it is to add additional power if you chose to do so. The EFI makes it incredibly easy to add “Plug in” power. We choose to add a Yoshimura Cherry Bomb that we installed in a matter of minutes that added a substantial amount of power even with the stock exhaust.
To our surprise, the LTR handled very well even in the woods. We had no problem fitting the motocross-minded 49-inch wide stance down all the trails at the Ironman GNCC. Even with the 18-inch tires we didn’t get hung up on many obstacles in our path; granted we did get some stares of confusion from onlookers as to why were running motocross tires in one of the toughest GNCC races in the series. Although the stock tires do a good job of putting the power to the ground, if you’re not riding strictly motocross we would suggest investing in some taller tires that will be both track and trail friendly.
The Kayaba fully adjustable front and rear shocks did a great job of soaking up the bumps and rough landings. We did have to do some quick adjustments to the preload, rebound, and compression on the shocks to further fine-tune them to our preferences. This made for a smoother ride and lowered our ride height. We felt the stock ride height was up a little high and made for a top-heavy feeling when going into corners. With the adjustment made, we now had more confidence cornering harder and accelerating out of the turns.
Braking is another area where the Suzuki did not let us down. For those times when you do need to slow down in and set up for a turn or dodge a tree, the dual hydraulic discs up front and single hydraulic disc in the rear get the job done.
The LT-R450 features Suzuki’s classic T-shaped seat. This not only gives the quad some traditional styling, but it also helps when hanging off the ATV from side to side. The LTR is very comfortable to move around on and you don’t feel as cramped as you would on some of its competitors.
One thing that we would like to see changed is the peg height. We felt the LTR could benefit from lowering the pegs a couple inches. In our opinion, lowering the pegs will help eliminate the feeling of being top-heavy in corners. Purchasing a set of nerf bars can easily solve this problem. Not only are nerf bars a must if you plan on racing, but often the nerf bars come with integrated pegs that are lower than stock.
Handling the LTR is very predictable both in the air and on the ground. Steering is light and nimble, even in the woods. During the two-hour Ironman GNCC race we never experienced any kind of arm pump, commonly caused by the steering and handling. The LTR is easy to throw around while in midair and when your tires make contact with the ground the landings are pleasantly smooth and plush.
Suzuki hasn’t changed much in the way of looks on the LTR since its creation. Sharp angled plastic and an aggressive wide stance give the LTR a bold race look that shows it was made for racing.
Suzuki did its homework when it came to designing the LT-R450. Ease of maintenance feels like it’s often overlooked when it comes to sport quads, but not a Suzuki. The LTR features an easily accessible battery box, quick removal of plastic, and a hole in the frame to access the rear shock just are just a few things we came to appreciate. The LTR also features one of the knarliest chain guards we have ever seen on a stock sport ATV. Instead of just being plastic, the LTR has a steel chain guard that makes the plastic guards of its competitors look like a chew toys to the rocks in your path.
After spending months on the LT-R450, we feel that it has more than lived up the hype. It’s easy to see why it’s at the top of its class. The LT-R450 has proved itself to be a very adaptable platform that will get you over the finish line no matter what type of racing you prefer. Whether you’re on the ground or flying through the air; a professional racer or weekend warrior, the LT-R450 is a machine that can help you win races and beat your friends down the trail.