An unbeatable combination of style and performance is what characterizes the two bikes that got on our hands recently, Suzuki’s DR-Z125 and DR-Z125L. The same engine and chassis is used on both bikes, but the “L” model features bigger wheels, seat height and ground clearance and so it addresses to the taller crowd, while the simple model is what average sized riders would like to ride.
These two models practically make the Suzuki off-road lineup as this manufacturer has decided to concentrate more on the dual-sport segment and neglect the much-needed improvements or even completely new additions of bikes derived from motocross models.
So while the other three big Japanese manufacturers have caught the big wave, Suzuki has to work with what they have and we must admit that for some, this might just be enough.
To begin, the 2010 Suzuki DR-Z125 and 125L are light, decently powered and sharp handling, making them perfect for all-sized starter and experienced riders, although you won’t be wrong if you ask what’s with that drum front brake on the simple model.
Well, probably the answer will come when skimming the short Suzuki DR-Z125 history.
The bikes would have made a first entry on the highly competitive off-road scene at the end of 2002 as 2003 model years and they were packed with pretty much everything you can find on them in the present day: a kick started, carbureted, air-cooled 124cc, 4-stroke, single-cylinder, SOHC 2-valve engine developing 12 hp at an impressive 9,500rpm and 10 Nm at 8,600rpm. The powerplant stood on the same steel frame and swingarm while the heavy-duty suspensions (long-travel, oil-damped front fork and link-type rear unit) made for a smooth introduction on the rough terrain. For that time, the front and rear drum brakes of the simple model were nothing out of the ordinary as long as Suzuki didn’t wanted to stand out with something more modern but not necessary something like a front disc brake. That could be found on the 2003 Suzuki DR-Z125L
The styling was inspired on the RM-Z racing models and the bikes were cheap, so by checking these qualities, they were more than decent and affordable ways to get on riding.
2004 brought the exterior refinements consisting in redesigned side panels, white colored number plates and new graphics, but, mechanically, both bikes remained the same.
For 2005, the Suzuki DR-Z125 added a brand new Blue color scheme while the “L” model remained faithful to the Yellow scheme. Still, both models featured two-tone seats and new graphics.
Nothing changed in 2006, but in 2007 Suzuki added the Black color scheme for both models. That was carried on to 2008 and 2009, ending up having two identical looking bikes (except their different sizes) colored Yellow and Black.
Because the Japanese maker didn’t concentrate on improving these two models ever since their introduction, there hasn’t been a decent opportunity to get rid of that front drum brake on the simple model so I guess it is just a matter of motivation. After all, the bike didn’t add weight or horsepower, so it seems logical not to upgrade that…but it looks old.
Yamaha uses the same recipe and manages to become the main competitor in this segment for Suzuki as it also offers two alternatives, the TT-R125E and TT-R125LE. Both bikes are powered by an electrically-started air-cooled, 124cc, SOHC 4-stroke, two-valved engine fed through a Mikuni VM20 carburetor and, like the DR-Z models, they feature constant-mesh 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch transmissions.
Also, the “E” model rides on 17-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels supported by long-travel suspension. The seat is low (less than 30.5 inches) and the ground clearance more than decent (10 inches).
The “LE” model is a step up bike with its 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels and, of course, the 220 mm front disc brake.
Could things be more obvious? Suzuki and Yamaha stand for hard decisions to take, so if you simply through a coin and head the indicated way, you won’t be wrong.
2010 Suzuki DR-Z125L
If there’s something to make the difference between these Yamaha and Suzuki bikes, that’s probably style…or better said, color. While Yamaha paints their off-road bikes Blue, Suzuki’s characteristic color is Yellow and, as we mentioned a little bit earlier, there is also a Black color scheme available for 2010.
But that isn’t everything there is to say in this concern as the 2010 models feature decals that are color-matched with the seat. These enhance the looks of those aggressive side panels inspired on the modern RM-Z machines, while the high mounted fenders, front and side number plates as well as the narrow seat all stand as testimony to the racing design.
The most notable difference between the two Suzuki models are the wheels dimensions: 17-inch front and 14-inch rear on the simple model and 19-front and 16-inch rear on the “L” model.
"Powering the bike around the track is a tiny air-cooled, SOHC motor fed by a diminutive 20mm Mikuni carb. Tuned for torque, but still willing to rev, the 125L scoots around nicely if you keep the throttle pinned. In the corners, the IRC motocross tires stick far better than you might expect. But, with limited power output and a claimed wet weight under 200 pounds, the tires don’t get overmatched." – ultimatemotorcycling
"If you want more details on delivery, it looks something like this: The bulk of the 125L’s power is strung in the middle of the curve, yet good torque and average top-end pull bookend the practical midrange. Off-idle hit is mellow and almost disappointing, though this translates to friendliness for tentative spouses or kids." – dirtrider
Though Suzuki didn’t get back on the drawing board for the 2010 DR-Z125 and DR-Z125L, the two models carry on as the same affordable starter bikes that address to a very large category of riders, managing to fulfill their riding needs and put smiles on their faces with talent, not necessarily horsepower.