Dual purpose motorcycles offer you fun and can actually be a practical way to enjoy your motorcycling. The good news doesn’t stop there, on the used market there’s a variety of bikes that tick this box. The Suzuki DR-Z400S offers you a cost effective way to put a genuine dual purpose bike in your garage. It’s a handy green laner with plenty of urban survival skills.
Suzuki introduced it in the year 2000, it stayed pretty much unchanged for around seven years. It combines good looks with a no thrills spec, that’s what makes it so attractive. The single cylinder engine isn’t going to set your pulse racing too fast, but then that’s exactly what you want from a bike with a split personality. It’s a true back to basics type of bike. The 21 inch front wheel isn’t to everyone’s taste, which explains why Suzuki added 17 inch wheels to the supermoto styled DR-Z400SM model. This broadened its appeal even further and reflected what many owners were doing to their DR-Z400s back in their sheds.
What’s it like to ride?
Despite its off road boasts, the DR-Z400 is much more at home on the roads. It’s a nimble bike that makes for great transport within the inner city environment. These are still pretty commonplace on the streets of London. The only drawback are the wide bars, these hinder its filtering abilities.
Around town is where it’s happiest. With only 39bhp, motorways and miles of A roads are best avoided. It will sit at 70mph happily enough, but the four stroke single cylinder engine runs out of puff, although top whack is just over 90mph. Bikes fitted with with a more off road biased tyres can feel clumsy, especially when you throw in that 21 inch front wheel, it’s easy to see why urban riders opt for the DR-Z400SM with its much user friendly 17 inch rims. Brakes aren’t overly great. They’re not terrible but there’s definitely room for improvement. Ridden sensibly you can squeeze around 45mpg which will give you around 100 miles range from a full tank of unleaded.
What to look for?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Suzuki franchise Wheels Motorcycles, Peterborough.
“Great little bikes these are and they still sell well on the used market. Bikes that have been used off road are easy to spot, the engine cases are usually battered and things like original bars and levers have been replaced for aftermarket parts. There isn’t too much in the way of bodywork, it’s pretty cheap to replace the plastic parts too. The spoked wheels are prone to problems, always check the spokes and make sure that there isn’t any missing for a start. The rims are soft, spin both of the wheels to check for any buckles, these can occur on the rough off road surfaces or as a result of many wheelies. Head race bearings are often shot too.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson from Grumpy 1260, they service motorcycles and break a few for parts. “The DR-Z400 is popular for a reason; it’s a great engine that is pretty much bulletproof, unlike some other four stroke singles out there. The engine can appear to be noisy, not just because it’s there in your face and not hidden by a fairing. We’ve seen bikes with 40,000 miles on them, all they’ve had is regular oil changes. Some owners fit a manual cam chain tensioner, a cheap and easy mod to make. Exhaust headers rot fast so look for a stainless steel replacement to avoid further issues. The frame paint is very thin, many owners strip their bikes and get the frame powder coated. They are dead easy to work on, parts are plentiful and their reputation is good.”
Got a DRZ? Get Suzuki Bike Insurance through Carole Nash.