Driving report Suzuki DR-Z 400

Driving report Suzuki DR-Z 400

Promotion candidate

So far, Suzuki enduros have not been considered particularly sporty. Now the new DR-Z 400 wants to compete for trophies with the off-road professionals. MOTORRAD was able to exclusively test whether it is suitable for the first division.

Good, honest, undemanding – such attributes made the Suzuki DR 350 a sales success.

The small, inconspicuous DR served as a bread-and-butter motorcycle, as an enduro for mountain hikes or as a light, handy machine for beginners or women. It was generally expected that Suzuki would continue this tradition with the successor. The new DR-Z 400 takes a completely different approach. The price alone points the way: at around 13,000 marks, it is not a dumping offer, but plays in the same league as the Yamaha WR 400 F or the European sports enduros. In order to open up a somewhat broader market segment despite this orientation, Suzuki has conjured up three variants out of the hat (see box on page 155). MOTORRAD was able to subject the sportiest version, the DR-Z 400 with kick starter, to a first test. Suzuki wants to use this model in a team with Dirk von Zitzewitz as a figurehead in the Enduro DM and World Championships.
For this project to end successfully, the basis must first be right. The DR-Z really has nothing in common with the old 350: four steeply arranged, large valves, two camshafts with bucket tappets, a coated aluminum cylinder, balancer shaft, all of which is compact and easy to pack. A bore of 90 millimeters and a stroke of 62 millimeters classify the dohc-Single as a pronounced short stroke, although the Yamaha is designed to be even more extreme. In spite of this, the DR achieves similarly high speeds, the limiter only intervenes at 11,000 revolutions.
This should achieve just under 50 hp in the open sport version. An overly optimistic figure? The first driving impressions make this information appear realistic. The DR-Z single-cylinder already has a powerful effect in the middle area, where it looks even more snappy than a WR-Yamaha or EXC-KTM. The usable speed range is extremely wide for a 400, and the DR-Z feels right at home even at the highest speeds close to the limiter. It must be noted, however, that the sport variant underlines its performance acoustically loudly, even in enduro sport, noise control should be a real hurdle. The direct competitors sound much tamer. Difficult to assess what effects further measures for sound insulation will have on the engine characteristics.
Not only do the exhaust noises indicate that the DR-Z400 is primarily aimed at the American market, the chassis is also more suitable for funriding than for competitive sports. The suspension is technically of the finest quality, but similar to the WR, its spring rate and damping are more comfort-oriented. The motorcycle hangs deep on the ropes on furrowed slopes, and the multiple adjustable damping does not change that. Sports drivers can easily get this under control with a few new springs and a different set-up. For less demanding off-road escapades, however, the suspension is completely sufficient, especially since it is gentle and soft.
The seating position is definitely sporty. The DR-Z is only slightly wider than a two-stroke crosser. The ten-liter tank is higher than on the new KTM, but the gently sloping contour means that the weight can still be shifted easily forwards. Speaking of weight: Suzuki gives 112 kilograms as dry weight, so the DR-Z doesn’t have to hide from the well-trained top athletes. In contrast to the competition, the gearbox of the DR-Z is content with five gears. Only a direct comparison can show whether this is a disadvantage. Thanks to the powerful engine, there is always a good connection in the field.
Well thought-out details show that the designers didn’t just work at their desks. The air filter can be changed without tools thanks to the quick-release fasteners. Grease nipples on the levers of the rear suspension promise a long life for the bearings. Eccentrics on the rear wheel axle allow the chain tension to be adjusted at lightning speed in terrain, but can also twist slightly if the axle is loose. Kick-off works flawlessly in everyday operation, the DR-Z starts reliably hot and cold after one or two kicks. It takes a long time to choke when cold. However, there is little noticeable of the automatic decompression, the piston must be brought into the correct position using a manual decompression lever. The tested sports version still lacks any road equipment. Suzuki is preparing a kit with the necessary electrics that will be included with the motorcycle. This also includes a throttle set.
E.In place in the middle of the first division, the DR-Z should definitely be safe. And with the right preparation, you might even be able to win against the established competition here and there.

The street version DR-Z 400 S –

Suzuki is building three versions of the DR-Z, two of which are coming to Germany on the official route. While the sport variant with electric starter, the DR-Z 400 E, is not imported, the customer in this country has the choice between the sport model and the street version DR-Z 400 S. The differences to the tested sport variant: The motor is, for example, a thicker one Base seal only 11.3: 1 compressed, the carburetor a 36 mm Mikuni. Externally, the silencer resembles the open sports exhaust, an insert lowers the level together with the thinner manifold to the permissible noise level. After all, more than 40 legal horsepower should remain. The kick starter is missing in the S model – as is also the case with the E model, by the way – in favor of the electric starter. A more powerful 175 watt alternator supplies the extensive electrics. The 49er cartridge fork is replaced on the street model by a simpler version with only adjustment of the compression damping. The adjusting screw for the rebound damping is also missing on the shock absorber. The final translation is considerably longer at 43/15 instead of 47/13. The tank is made of steel instead of aluminum, the volume is identical. This all adds up to a dry weight of 132 kilograms, which is 19 additional kilograms compared to the sports model.

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