A Complete Guide For the Suzuki DR-Z400

Suzuki DR-Z400

Suzuki Motor Corporation officially got its start as a vehicle manufacturing giant in 1909 when its founder, Michio Suzuki, first began Suzuki Loom Works out of the village of Hamamatsu, Japan. Originally, Suzuki was putting together looms for Japan’s silk industry. It was Suzuki that is credited for developing a new type of weaving machine in 1929 that was exported overseas as it became the industrial tool of choice among manufacturing companies worldwide. For thirty years, this was the company’s niche product before getting into the industry of building a variety of automated vehicles from scratch. This was a decision Suzuki made when the demands of the consumers inspired him to diversify his company’s ventures. The production of automobiles from Suzuki officially began in 1937. At first, it was a real struggle as the Japanese Government laid down a set of rules and regulations during the timeline of World War II. Suzuki was among the few manufacturing plants that not only endured the hardships WWII brought about but thrived to become the successful corporate giant they are today. Still headquartered out of Hamamatsu, Japan, Suzuki continues to produce all-terrain vehicles, automobiles, motorcycles, outboard marine engines, and a wide variety of small engine-reliant machinery. Suzuki Cycles is a division by Suzuki that focuses strictly on the production of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. After building their first motorcycle in 1952, the legacy of Suzuki has laid out an impressive track record of bringing forth a number of bikes that cater to all interest types between dirt bikes, street-legal bikes, and more.

Introducing DR-Z400

Starting in the year 2000, Suzuki began to produce the DR-Z400 motorcycles, which were designed as dual-sport bikes. They were powered by a single-cylinder, carbureted, liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine that was 24.3 cubic inches (398 ccs) in size. At the same time, a sister company, Kawasaki, marketed a private-labeled version of the DR-Z models as the KLV400 series. Aside from the bodywork and a few accessories, these are identical motorcycles. To this day, the Australian Army continues to use military-grade Suzuki DR-Z400 motorcycles. When looking for a bike that has the ability to make the perfect companion for exploring the local green lanes, one would be hard-pressed to find one that can beat the performance level a Suzuki DR-Z400 S model could do. (Green lanes is the terminology used for a bike to be road legal and with an MOT.) There were only a few original DR-Z400 models before the S, which only had a kickstart. When the DR-Z400 S models arrived, it became a proper dual-purpose trail bike.

This was important as trail riding with a motorcycle is only a fraction of what a DRZ 400 S bike can do. The pillion pegs, mirrors, softer engine tune, and a full complement of instruments are what made the DRZ 400 S bikes such a great commuter bike, as well as an ideal weekend explorer. The original DR-Z400 motorcycles were designed for off-road purposes only at the time and were not deemed street legal. This is where the DR-Z400 S models kick in. There was also the DR-Z400 E series, which was an electric start bike. While these are street legal in Australia, they are not street legal in the US. In the UK, Suzuki’s DR-Z400 were, and still are, hugely popular among riders as there is plenty of rugged nature all around that serves as an ideal adventure playground. Whether it’s exploring the wilderness or making good use of different hills and valleys, not only have the UK riders thoroughly enjoyed this bike but so have American and Australian owners. What makes the DR-Z400 what they are is the fact they are light, reliable, and relatively inexpensive to buy. These bikes can handle just about any kind of condition you send them through. For riders who aren’t interested in offroad adventures, there was also the Suzuki DRZ 400 SM models that were introduced in 2005. These bikes were more designed for road travel.

Suzuki DR-Z400 Specifications

From 2000 until 2006, Suzuki manufactured a number of different variants of the DR-Z400 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_DR-Z400) series. The original lineup only had a limited amount of production before it was replaced by the DR-Z400 E series to better cater to the Australian market while the DR-Z400 S series had the UK and USA nations in mind. The power output for these motorcycles claimed 48.01 horsepower (35.8 kW) at 9,000 RPM. The displacement was 156.69 square inches (398.0 cubic centimeters) that came from a 3.5-inch (88.9-millimeter) bore and a 3.5-inch (88.9-millimeter) stroke. These bikes also featured a five-speed manual transmission, powered by a wet multi-disc manual. The front tire measured at 80/100-21 and the rear was 110/100-18. The braking was achieved by a single disc that measured 9.8 inches (250 millimeters) at the front and 8.7 inches (220 millimeters) at the back. The front suspension was a telescopic, cartridge-type, oil-damped, adjustable preload, fourteen-way compression damping, and eighteen-way rebound damping. The rear was equipped with a link-type, fully-adjustable spring preload, adjustable high/low compression damping, and adjustable rebound damping. The wheelbase was 58.11 inches (1,476 millimeters) long.

Breaking Down the DR-Z400 Series and Variants

  • 2000 DR-Z400Y
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) #JS1DK423 Y2100001
  • K416 Engine Prefix
  • 398 ccs, Four-stroke Engine Type
  • 29F Model Code
  • Yellow in Color (3AE)
  • Yellow Fuel Tank with White Radiator Shrouds
  • Kick Start System
  • Liquid-cooled Engine with Keihin Carburater
  • Charcoal RM-style Frame
  • Damping Adjustment on Front Forks
  • 2000 DR-Z400EY
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) #JS1DK433 Y2100001
  • K417 Engine Prefix
  • 398 ccs, Four-stroke Engine Type
  • 29F Model Code
  • Yellow in Color (3AE)
  • Yellow Fuel Tank with White Radiator Shrouds
  • Electric Start System
  • Liquid-cooled Engine with Keihin Carburetor
  • Charcoal RM-style Frame
  • Damping Adjustment on Front Forks
  • 2001 DR-Z400K1
  • Vehicle Insurance Number #JS1DK423 12100001
  • K416 Engine Prefix
  • 398 ccs, Four-stroke Engine Type
  • 29F Model Code
  • Yellow in Color (YR1)
  • Yellow Fuel Tank, Fenders, and Radiator Shrouds
  • Kick Start System
  • Liquid-cooled Engine with Keihin Carburater
  • Charcoal RM-Style Frame
  • Damping Adjustment on Front Forks
  • 2001 DR-Z400EK1
  • Vehicle Identification Number #JS1DK433 12100001
  • K417 Engine Prefix
  • 398 ccs, Four-stroke Engine Type
  • 29F Model Code
  • Yellow in Color (YR1)
  • Yellow Fuel Tank, Fenders, and Radiator Shrouds
  • Electric Start System
  • Liquid-cooled Engine with Keihin Carburater
  • Charcoal RM-style Frame
  • Damping Adjustment on Front Tires

DR-Z400 Timeline

In 2000, Suzuki’s DR-Z400 was the only off-road only version of the DR-Z400 S series, which was tweaked for superb ground tracking whenever riding the rough ground. It was light, sleek, and punchy. These slightly under 50-horsepower motorcycles served as the perfect no-holds-barred dirt bike that featured complaint suspensions, tough laced wheels, powerful brake discs, and a sporty riding position. Of these models that still exist today, they continue to be one of the most enjoyable off-road motorcycles enjoyed by riders who consider these machines to be their favorite toy.

In 2001, Suzuki completely replaced the original kick-start only DR-Z400 models with the DR-Z400 S. However, the name stayed the same as it was the “S” that was dropped, which was only used officially during the year 2000 as a means to differentiate the difference between the two variants of the DR-Z400 models. The original series was for offroad purposes only while the “S” in the lineup signaled this variant was street legal. The 2001 DR-Z400 models still maintained all the characteristics of the original year 2000 bikes but made all the adjustments necessary to make it just as street compliant as off-road. The 2001 lineup still maintained the 398 ccs liquid-cooled single engine that could produce 48 horsepower at 9,000 RPM. These lightweight motorcycles were and still are, perform remarkably well along the trails and still remain as a favorite dual-sport bike of choice among riders who know the difference between highly performant motorcycles and the pretenders.

When 2002 rolled around, there were two labeled versions of the DR-Z400 series again. Since the original DR-Z400 series was originally regarded as an off-road only lineup, this label returned to its former glory when Suzuki ditched all the add-ons that were installed in the 2001 models. This resulted in the birth of the 2002 MY DR-Z400 S models, which kept the 2001 concept of a dual-sport bike that maintained the street-legal status but could just as easily have a field day out in the wild. These five-speed transmission two-wheelers delivered explosive power with the simple twist of the throttle. The sleekness of the lightweight DR-Z400 motorcycles, namely the off-road versions, owed its lightweight to the plastic bodywork, as well as the knobby tires and long-travel suspensions. In 2003, the Suzuki MY DR-Z400 models remained as the dirt-only version to the Suzuki DR-Z400 S models. Mechanically speaking, they are identical machines. The only difference between the two is the tires. The DR-Z400 S versions featured the dual-sport tires while the DR-Z400 versions had knobbed tires, along with matching suspension tweaks to make them an even better ride while maneuvering the trails and dirt roads.

From 2005 until 2007, Suzuki brought forth the DR-Z400 SM series, which was a motorcycle that could reach the top speed of ninety miles (145 kilometers) per hour. The engine also used a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder, DOHC, four-valve engine. 11.3:1 was its compression ratio. What set the SM lineup apart from the other DR-Z400 models was the power moderation that came from the wet, multiple discs that were cable operated. The front tire measurement for the DR-Z400 SM series was 120/70-17 and the fear tire was 140/70-17. For braking, this was achieved with an 11.8-inch (300-millimeter) floating disc, a two-piston caliper in the front, and a single 9.45-inch (240-millimeter) disc, with a single-piston caliper in the rear. The front suspension was also telescopic and the wheelbase is 57.5 inches (1,460 millimeters) long. The weight of these bikes is 302 pounds (137 kilograms). The DR-Z 400 SM models were also fitted with a 2.6 US gallon (10-liter) fuel tank. Classified as the Supermotard model, these members of the DR-Z 400 series feature a narrow, lightweight street-legal package designed for long travel.

The Showa-brand inverted fork is derived from Suzuki’s RM 250 models, as well as featuring an adjustable compression/rebound damping, along with aluminum coating on inner tube surfaces for smoother rides. There is also a fully adjustable rear shock absorber with a low and high-speed compression damping adjuster and an aluminum swingarm for precise rear wheel control. Its strong braking performance is supplied by a front disc brake that features a large 11.8-inch (300-millimeter) floating type rotor and dual-piston caliper. The rear disc brake is 9.45 inches (240 millimeters) in size and features a single-piston caliper. The seventeen-inch aluminum rims are painted black. The front radial tire measures at 120/70-R17 and the rear is 140/70-R17. The chassis features a compact digital instrument cluster with an odometer, speedometer, twin-trip meters with adjustable capability, as well as a clock, timer, and stopwatch functions. This street-only model was lit with a standard sixty-watt halogen headlight, as well as a compact tail/stoplight. The DR-Z400 SM also has rubber-mounted turn signals and a horn. Just like its relatives, this motorcycle is lightweight with a narrow profile to allow a smooth ride. The transition between the tank, seat, and bodywork saw a chromed moly steel frame that is torsionally strong with minimal weight. Forming the dry-sump engine oil tank are the steering head gussets that also feature a backbone tube and front down tube. The bolted-on aluminum subframe is credited to reducing the weight of all the DR-Z400 models, as well as making it an easy bike to mechanically maintain. The chassis also features chromed moly steel footpegs, aluminum rims, and guards for the engine and rear disc. 2006 was the final year for Suzuki to manufacture the DR-Z400 series. The 2007 DR-Z400 SM models marked the end of the road for what is still regarded as among the best dual-sport bikes ever to reach the consumer market. The Australian military still commissions modified versions of the DR-Z400 series, however.

Still Kickin’

Although these models are twenty years old now, the Suzuki DRZ 400 S series is still really popular among riders who enjoy some light trail riding. There are a number of forums that talk about single-cylinder motorcycles where some of them have entire sections dedicated strictly to the DRZ 400 S models. The Suzuki Owners’ Club is one of the best sites to find out more about the DRZ 400 motorbikes. Through its message forum, one can talk to current owners who will be more than happy to share their experience about the bike, as well as any frame of knowledge you need to learn more about them. On Motorcycle News’ website (MCN), there is a detailed review page of all the pros and cons of the Suzuki DR-Z400 models.

DR-400 Reborn

The 2021 Suzuki DR-Z400 SM model sees a revival of the series with its impressive. There is also the 2021 Suzuki DR-Z400 S model, which On The Back Wheel  covers in enthusiastic detail about the return of one of Suzuki’s most beloved series of motorcycles. According to its information, there are three different versions of this lineup. The E model is designed more of an off-road version of the S and SM models, at least according to the North American regulations that are in place by their governments. The E models have an output of 48 horsepower while the S models are at 40. The Suzuki DR-400 S model is the lineup that is deemed street legal, at least in Canada and the United States. This new breed of the Suzuki DR-400 series now has a six-speed transmission, as well as an EFI, which has enthusiasts suspecting Suzuki will once again leave fans of the super-moto bike drooling.

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