- Master hunter
- That’s the screamer!
- Conclusion: KTM 400 EXC Racing
- Conclusion: Yamaha WR 400 F
- Conclusion: Suzuki DR-Z 400
Comparison test of 400 sports enduros
With the 400 EXC, KTM took the Enduro World Championship title last year. The Euro-Fighter for 2000 is thus in the sights of the brand new Suzuki DR-Z 400 and the facelifted Yamaha WR 400 F.
The Austrians made a debut made to measure. Even before the market launch, the KTM EXC 400 was able to decorate itself with the world champion and runner-up title. This was ensured by the enduro sunny boys Giovanni Sala and Mario Rinaldi, who took first and second places in the Enduro World Championship with their factory riders last autumn. The first EXC series in Germany is now sold out ?? the sport endurists immediately took the electro-started Alpenkrad to their hearts.
Now Suzuki is also pushing its way into the niche with the new DR-Z 400, in which Yamaha first caused a sensation two years ago with the WR 400 F. The Suzuki racer, born in 2000, appears even more well-trained than before with the slimmer tank-seat combination of the cross version YZ as well as a revised carburetor and a tighter chassis set-up. Conceptually, there is agreement in the 400 camp: In the chassis with 250 motocrosser layout, a compact, short-stroke 400 cm3 four-stroke, powered by a 39 Keihin carburettor with a load sensor for propulsion, works.
There are differences, however, in the bore-to-stroke ratio: the bandwidth ranges from the KTM with 89 by 64 millimeters to the ultra-short-stroke Yamaha with 92 by 60.1 millimeters. Different philosophies also prevail in the cylinder heads. KTM drives four valves with a camshaft via roller rocker arms, Suzuki relies on an even more speed-stable dohc four-valve engine, while the Yamaha five valves handle the gas exchange. On the test bench, the unthrottled and therefore not street legal version resulted in 46 hp for the Suzuki, 48 hp each for the KTM and the Yamaha.
Despite the electric starter, the KTM weighs just 123 kilograms with a full tank, one kilogram more than the WR and five less than the Suzuki. But enough of the gray theory. After all test subjects have changed their tires to Michelin Enduro Competition III / IV because of equal opportunities, the three hot-blooded dogs are finally allowed to show what they’re made of. Fast gravel road
Thanks to the electric starter, the EXC has the front mudguard at the start, and kicking off is only a matter of seconds with its auto-deco. With DR-Z and WR must the deco lever be used ?? that takes time. The WR almost always requires several kicks, the DR-Z always thunders off after the first. Right from the start, the tractor-like power of the KTM engine was impressive. Its relatively long-excursion design gives it an almost large-volume character with a broadly usable power range. Only on the very last rungs of the speed ladder does the four-valve engine run out of breath. What the heck, the well-tiered six-speed box always provides a connection.
Of course, Suzuki’s 400 power block doesn’t want to stand back. Especially in the middle speed range the bear steps. A quick turn of the throttle, and the DR-Z roars forward. Top! Above, in the direction of the limiter, the eardrum-murdering (see box) yellow animal subjectively slackens in its zeal, which the measured values do not confirm.
The “Singing Saw from Iwata”, as all test drivers christened the WR 400 F, was completely different. Somewhat weak at the bottom, the five-valve engine turns out at the top with great urgency. The slightly weak, late torque is offset by the enormous power plateau between 8500 and 11000 rpm, on which a whopping 47 hp are always available. Skilled lathe operators can rejoice with the WR under their helmets, the blue rocket picks up so quickly. Despite the subtle sound level (see box), the engine and transmission are not only mechanically harder than the competition, but also than the previous model. By the way, vibrations are not an issue with all three because of the combination of small displacement and vibration-damping balance shaft ?? only with continuous full throttle do they reach a disruptive level.
The sand course has been reached. No ruts have been made yet, but that will change soon:
The WR 400 F is already lurking to plow the virgin terrain. It impetuously produces meter-high fountains, at least if the speed is right. Because especially in the sand, the Yamaha requires an extra helping of revolutions. KTM and Suzuki are also hardly bothered by the exhausting underground. Full midrange torque plus a short gear ratio in the Suzuki and the tightly stepped six-speed box of the KTM let the two 400s fly over the sand at lightning speed.
The only problem with the extremely handy Suzuki is the soft, nervous front section. The more extended the slope, the more difficult it will be to keep to the target course ?? the competition maneuvers more precisely through grooves and berms, with the Yamaha demanding a bit more concentration from its rider than the KTM, despite tight coordination. After all, thanks to the newly designed tank-seat unit, the WR driver can slide forward better than before to put pressure on the front wheel.
Last but not least, there is the king’s stage, a varied, technically difficult enduro paradise: top-speed wave slopes with jumps, a rocky river bed, narrow slaloms, slippery hairpin bends with surprising ascents and descents promise an exciting hunt.
And here, too, the Euro-Fighter EXC 400 makes it difficult for the captors of Nippon. Its ergonomics with the relatively high, also adjustable Magura handlebars enable an active driver position while standing or sitting. Playful, but still stable, the KTM runs across the track. This creates trust and protects your stamina. The wonderfully gently appealing 43 fork from White Power can cope with short waves just as well as hard landings after long jumps. The directly hinged shock absorber from the same company always ensures sufficient traction for the hindquarters without wedging on bumps. After large jumps, the strut starts to progress noticeably, but not nearly as violently as in the previous generations of this deflection-free suspension. It’s great that the Austrian is also good for trials. In spite of the good-natured motor, the hydraulically operated clutch with adjustable hand lever, which is not particularly smooth, but can be dosed very precisely, helps when climbing rocks.
The Suzuki DR-Z is also quite comfortable, but the cheap tubular steel handlebar is too low, which makes it difficult to drive while standing. Instead, the softly tuned, conventional 49er Showa fork sucks all kinds of hits into itself without leaving any residue, while feedback and accuracy are somewhat less. In addition, the otherwise sensitive hindquarters pump noticeably when accelerating out of fast corners. And before jumping too big, the ambitious sports driver should trim the chassis tight, otherwise there is a risk here and there of contact with the stop buffers of the suspension elements.
In the seemingly insurmountable sea of rocks of the narrow, dry river bed, the Suzuki’s gentle coordination is spot on. The yellow vegetable crawls smoothly over the rocking stones, it seems to be stuck to the ground. Ground clearance is not an issue with her either, if at all the frame tubes give out loud for a short time. The engine, which is neatly attached to the gas, rarely needs the help of the ?? unfortunately a bit muddy ?? Coupling and pushes the DR-Z meter by meter.
The player in the Yamaha saddle also has to use the clutch as soon as things get tricky. Its lever shines with a quick adjustment, but even the fantastically precise actuation cannot hide the fact that the five-valve engine is simply a bit slack and rough underneath, and sometimes even dies. The 2000 WR chassis is not weak at all. With the litter-like character you have finished with Yamaha, the blue rocket gets to the point quickly and razor-sharp. Your 46-inch upside-down fork works precisely on level ground, but holes or waves in quick succession make you fidget uneasily and require a hard hand.
On the other hand, the Kayaba fork in the current model is no longer afraid of rough jumps, just like the rear shock absorber, in which the compression level can now be adjusted separately in the high and low speed range. The blue miracle is in its element, especially in fast passages where the throttle slide is at full load and the WR can nestle in the upper third of the engine speed range. The Yamaha storms off and shows the competition the exhaust.
You can rely on the brakes on all three enduros even when the pace is tough. The KTM Brembo system with its fashionably serrated discs sets the standard in terms of effectiveness and controllability, but apart from the blunt DR-Z rear wheel stopper, the two Japanese girls’ Nissin biters also decelerate excellently.
A.In the evening there is the obligatory little service. After the WR pilot has also loosened the six screws for the air filter check and fastened them again? Thanks to quick-release fasteners, colleagues can enjoy the evening sun beforehand ??, is the lap complete and the result clear: The KTM EXC 400 Racing is not only number one in the Enduro World Championship ?? although the competition also has sharp gravel weapons up their sleeves.
That’s the screamer!
DR-Z 400 pilots could face a nasty surprise at the latest during the first technical acceptance. What aching eardrums announced during the test drives was confirmed by a noise measurement, carried out in accordance with the technical guidelines of the German Motor Sport Association, as of 1999: The Suzi is far too loud. With open power, the test specimen developed 109 dB (A) ?? at a measuring speed of 5200 rpm. A maximum of 94 dB (A) is allowed at enduro events. Even in motocross, 98 dB (A) are no longer allowed to be exceeded. Yamaha shows how it can be done better: At just 89 dB (A), the test WR fell well below the noise limit. In addition, it is the only one that is sensible for approval. In contrast to the rather symbolic 14 HP of the competition, the WR can legally be driven with 37 HP in road traffic.
Conclusion: KTM 400 EXC Racing
The lucky winner from Mattighofen: The EXC 400 shows the sons of Nippon in real life what a rake is. Right from the start, KTM has succeeded in becoming a playful and extremely fast all-round athlete who is not naked in any area. If the reliability is also right, the competition shouldn’t have much to smile about.
Conclusion: Yamaha WR 400 F
The singing saw from Iwata: Greedy for revs, agile and hyper-precise, this is Yamaha’s trendsetter WR 400 F in the slim 2000 trim. With its now more tightly tuned chassis, the Yamaha hisses razor-sharp across the slopes and unfolds its full potential, especially at high speeds. This is not only appealing to ambitious speed drivers.
Conclusion: Suzuki DR-Z 400
The hammer from Hamamatsu: Suzuki’s clap of thunder doesn’t hit the mark one hundred percent. Even if the engine inspires with a fat beat, there is still a need for action in terms of the chassis and some details if the DR-Z is to become a real winner. Hobby drivers can still achieve hunting success with the handy Suzuki.
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