Following the evolution of its bigger sibling (the Suzuki DR650SE), the Suzuki DR-Z400S remains visually unchanged for 2010, but ads a few distinctive touches in order to stand out by its own. Mechanically, the new DR doesn’t feature any late additions worth to brag about, so it remains the same bulletproof built machine on the trails and a docile commuter when not on them.
When deriving the DR-Z400S from their middleweight dual-sport bike, Suzuki made the smart choice of liquid-cooling the DOHC engine, something that would prove terribly effective on the long run. The best proof is the 2010 model year, which makes use of that very same engine also the “SM” model.
Due to the user-friendly approach and versatile character, the bike is the choice of many riders who plan to use it for practical purposes or simply have fun on the trails and it makes it with no scratch in any situation.
The Suzuki DR-Z400S started life together with the new millennium and it was built to last, both on the market and on tough roads. It had where to inspire, so it featured modern looks and Suzuki’s 2000 model year colors (Blue, Yellow and Black). As I mentioned before, the key was its engine, but it did had a disadvantage: the kick starter.
Salvation of those demanded right legs was to come in 2002 when Suzuki finally decided to fit an electric starter on the street-legal DR.
By 2003, the water-cooled 398cc single-cylinder, DOHC, four-valved engine developed a decent 40 hp at 7,600 rpm and 39 Nm at 6,600 rpm, so an adventurous rider would have had a hard time passing this chance over. There was also the DRZ400E off-road model which developed significantly more power and torque.
In 2005, Suzuki increased power to 48 hp at 9,000 rpm, together with the introduction of the DR-Z400SM model, while maximum torque was now 41 Nm and it was obtained at higher revs (7,500 rpm). Though the “E” and “S” models were equally powerful, no exterior changes marked the 2005 model years.
2006 Suzuki DR-Z400S
Compared to the DR-Z400E, the 2007 DR-Z400S stood out thanks to the on-road legal lighting with bright 60/55 watt halogen headlight, compact tail/stoplight, lightweight, rubber-mounted turn signals and horn. As any proud worthy modern dual-sport motorcycle, the 2007 “S” model featured a compact digital instrument cluster with speedometer, odometer, twin-trip meters with addition/subtraction capability, clock, timer and stopwatch functions. The engine suffered a compression ratio reduction (from 12.1:1 to 11.3:1) in order to make operation on 87-octane fuel possible and that also required the adding of the Mikuni BSR36 CV-type carburetor. Colors were Suzuki Yellow and Blue for 2007.
In 2008, the Yellow was replaced with Black and 2009 brought White instead of Blue.
2010 Suzuki DR-Z400S
Inspired by the Suzuki DR650SE, the subject of today’s review could easily be mistaken with the middleweight all-rounder if there wasn’t for some minor details such as the lack of cooling fins on the engine (as the 400 is liquid-cooled), a smaller silencer and new sharper side plates and graphics.
Though colors available are the same, Black or White, the seat on the DR-Z400S is Gray as well as the graphics, leaving no doubt that Suzuki knows how to set their models apart from one another with great finesse if you ever doubted it.
Like any veritable dual-sport motorcycle, this Suzuki is fitted with spoke wheels (21-inches front and 18-inches rear), a high mounted front fender and a square headlight for that nice 1980s look. The mirrors also feature the square shape, allowing great rear visibility, but that’s pretty much all there is to remind you of that farm motorcycle look.
2010 Suzuki DR-Z400S
"On hard terrain, the performance feels the same, but the kick model is stronger in sand and mud and is lighter and cheaper. I don’t feel comfortable pushing the stocker to race pace, but at 85 percent of my race pace the DR-Z eats up the miles without tiring me or beating me up" – dirtrider
"With 31 horsepower and 23 lb-ft of torque, the liquid-cooled mill puts its 90mm bore and 62.6mm stroke to good use. As much as the motor and gearing can dish out, the brakes can give right back. A 250mm disc up front uses a dual-piston caliper for grip and the 220mm out back is pinched by a single-piston." – motorcycle-usa
"The handling is OK, around town, but as the speeds pick up the 21-inch front wheel makes things feel vague and wallowy and the brakes on the Suzuki DR-Z400S are poor. The wide bars let you fling it around and off-road, once the standard tyres are swapped for something more knobbly, it’s quite easy for novices to get to grips with the DR-Z400S." – MCN
Having no competition to say otherwise, the Suzuki DR-Z400S is an economical (65 mpg) and cheap all around motorcycle. I guess you really can’t argue with its $6,099MSRP.
Overall, the Suzuki DR-Z400S may not stand out as refinement itself, but is indeed good at what claims to know doing and things split both ways here: commuting and off-road riding. If you demand both types, then the 400 DR is a highly recommended bike, but if you’re not that much into trail riding, there are more comfortable ways to move around.
Suzuki’s industry-leading DualSport model that combines the best on and off-road features in a lightweight package
398cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve engine produces broad, tractable power and torque, and features compact, streamlined design for the double advantage of low engine positioning and extra-slim, off-road rider-friendly chassis.
Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) plated engine’s aluminium cylinder for durability, weight reduction and superior heat transfer.
Dry-sump oiling system makes crankcase compact.
Magnesium-alloy clutch, magneto and cam covers contribute to weight reduction.
Digitally mapped DE-CDI system monitors throttle position/engine rpm and adjusts ignition timing to maintain efficient combustion.
Rider-friendly electric engine starter with compact electric starter motor.
Automatic decompression system lifts one exhaust valve at cranking rpm for easy starting.
Powerful 250mm front disc brake with dual-piston caliper and 220mm rear disc brake with single-piston caliper.
Long-travel, cartridge-type front fork with protective rubber boot. Spring preload and compression/rebound damping are all adjustable, allowing precise settings.
Progressive-linkage rear suspension with long-travel rear shock absorber, aluminium swingarm and adjustable spring preload/compression damping.
Narrow frame combines thin, round and rectangular chrome-moly steel tubes for exceptional torsional rigidity with minimum weight and lightweight aluminium bolt-on rear subframe.
Air filter can be accessed with your bare hands and clutch cover can be removed without draining the engine coolant for easy maintenance.
Easy-to-read multi-function digital instrument includes speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeters with both addition and subtraction functions, clock and stopwatch with subtraction capability.
Pouch on the rear fender carries tool kit and the owner’s manual.
Bright 60/55W H4 halogen headlight, lightweight turn signals and compact taillight and brake light.
398cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, dry-sump engine produces strong low-rpm power
Additional weight savings with magnesium valve cover, clutch cover, and magneto cover
Automatic decompression system for quick/easy engine starts
Compact 4-valve cylinder head with 36mm intake valves, 29mm exhaust valves, narrow 28-degree included valve angle and shim-under-bucket valve adjustment system
Compact 5-speed transmission utilizes a cable-operated clutch with separate outer cover for simplified clutch maintenance
Electric start with lightweight starter motor and a compact 6.5 amp maintenance-free battery
Forged aluminum piston is 10 percent lighter than a cast piston and receives additional oil-cooling to the piston crown through a crankcase oil jet
SCEM-plated cylinder (nickel-silicon-phosphorous) is lighter and more durable than an iron liner with excellent heat transfer properties
Smooth throttle response with a Mikuni™ BSR36 CV-type carburetor fed by 6-liter airbox. The left side cover has quick-release fasteners for easy access to the air filter
Thermostatically controlled cooling fan mounted to the left radiator helps maintain consistent operating temperature in traffic
A bolt-on aluminum subframe helps reduce weight and simplify maintenance
A fully adjustable rear shock absorber with high/low speed compression damping adjuster and aluminum swingarm for precise rear wheel control
Chrome-moly steel frame is torsionally strong with minimal weight. The backbone tube, front down tube, and steering head gussets form the dry-sump engine oil tank
Chrome-moly steel footpegs, aluminum rims/hubs, plus engine guard and rear disc guard
Compact digital instrument cluster with speedometer, odometer, twin-trip meters with addition/subtraction capability, clock, timer and stopwatch functions
Long travel, 49mm cartridge-style forks feature adjustable compression/rebound damping and adjustable spring preload for all types of on/off-road terrain
Narrow profile with smooth transitions between the tank, seat and bodywork
On-road legal lighting with bright 60/55 watt halogen headlight, compact tail/stoplight, lightweight, rubber-mounted turn signals and horn
Sure stopping power is supplied by a 250mm front disc brake with dual-piston caliper, and a 220mm rear disc brake with a single-piston caliper