SUZUKI DRZ400S (2001 - 2009) Review
- Extremely durable dual-purpose bike
- Approachable handling with off road ability
- Under-stressed engine is a reliable old thing
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£20|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
If you are looking for a bike that is the perfect companion for exploring your local green lanes on, look no further than a Suzuki DRZ 400 S.
Although there were a few DRZ 400 models before the S (and a DR350 before the 400), the original one only had a kickstart and while the E did have an electric starter and was road legal, it isn’t as refined as the later S and is more a ‘legalised enduro’ than a proper dual purpose trail bike like the S.
Why is this important? Riding the trails is only a small part of what a DRZ 400 S can do and with its pillion pegs, mirrors, softer engine tune and full instruments, the S makes for a good commuter as well as a weekend green lane explorer.
Despite getting on for 20 years old now, the DRZ 400 S is still a really popular model for those who enjoy a bit of light trail riding (remember, green lanes require your bike to be road legal and with an MOT) and if you go to forums such as Thumper Talk, which is all about single cylinder bikes, you will find a whole section dedicated to the DRZ 400.
And not just populated by UK fans, the DRZ was successful in America and Australia where its rugged nature made it perfect for exploring the wilderness on. In the UK they remain a very popular bike with TRF members, so their forum is also worth putting up a post on if you want to know a bit more about them.
Light, reliable and fairly cheap to buy, the DRZ is a bike that will plod on through just about any conditions. And if you aren’t interested in off-road, there was even a Supermoto version, the DRZ 400 SM, which arrived in 2005 and is far more road-orientated.
After you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join the Suzuki Owners' Club to find out more and talk to current owners.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
You have to remember that the DRZ 400 S was designed as a dual-purpose trail bike and that means there are a few compromises in terms of its handling.
The skinny 21-inch front wheel is the perfect size for knobbly tyres (or semi-knobbly if you are doing mainly road miles) but due to its size and width it can feel a little vague on the road, especially in the wet.
The suspension is also built with off-road in mind and that means a wallowy ride (the weight of a pillion makes the shock almost hit the end of its travel) and the single two-piston front caliper is pretty weak in its performance. However all of this is to be expected from an enduro bike and if you want more road performance, there is an alternative.
The DRZ 400 SM with its 17-inch wheels, inverted forks and uprated brakes is a far better pure road bike than the S, so have a think about if you really want to ride off-road before you decide on the DRZ model to buy.
If you really want an S and are looking at road riding, adding firmer springs to the forks will remove a lot of the dive while swapping the shock’s spring (or investing in an aftermarket unit) will make the back end far more supportive for not a great deal of outlay.
And be careful with the tyres you pick as they make a huge difference to not only road noise but also the grip levels – the more off-road targeted the less road grip and the noisier the ride.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The DR-Z’s single cylinder motor is a good old-fashioned plodder and with a double overhead cam, four valves and a water-jacket is hardly being stressed to produce 39bhp and 29ft.lb of torque.
The fact it has an electric start is a major bonus for anyone looking at trail riding and so is its reliability. Owners report that in terms of mechanical failures, the single is very solid and your main worry comes from things vibrating loose.
It seems like a tube of thread-lock is one of the most important tools in any DRZ owner’s kit and areas such as the front sprocket nut require a dab of it as a preventative measure.
The OE exhaust note is fairly wimpy and a lot of owners fit an aftermarket unit, mainly as there is a fair chance it will get dented but also to enhance its noise. There are carb re-jet kits that with a free-flowing exhaust help liberate a few extra ponies, but there aren’t huge gains to be had.
If you accept the DRZ is a 60mph maximum bike you won’t be disappointed. Pleasingly, it is very easy to home-service and just £80 will secure you a full service kit including an air filter, which is worth swapping fairly regularly as off-road use does see the Suzuki inhaling a fair amount of muck.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The fact there are so many DRZs still plodding about the UK’s trails tells you all you need to know. This is a very reliable bike and while the build quality may not be that amazing, the fact the little Suzuki simply refuses to give up is what makes it special.
The main area of concern when buying a used one is how much off-road it has done as the jolts and bangs can create issues. Always inspect all the bearings (headstock, wheel, swingarm) as these are often badly worn, check the wheel rims for dents, the spokes for broken or rusty items, the exhaust for dents and holes and most importantly the radiator for leaks.
As the DR has fork gaiters it can be tricky to check the seals for leaks, however this is worth doing as it is a nuisance to have them replaced. With the bike upright, have a good look down the length of the bike from the rear to see if the bars are straight, check the levers haven’t been bent and then forced straight again and ensure all the electrics work as they can be a weak point.
A lot of the forums suggest preventative measures to help keep the DRZ reliable, so check these out and see if they make sense to do and are within your skill set. Some are only applicable to fairly serious off-roaders. If the bike doesn’t start, check the switch on the clutch lever, which is prone to failing, and also the side-stand cut-out switch.
We've currently got 19 Suzuki DRZ 400 owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.4 stars out of 5. The main comments are the thin, hard seat and the inability to reach 70mph on the motorway, but most users love their bikes.
A reader reports:
"In 2006 I bought myself an off road Susuki DR-Z400. Living here in Scotland this bike was the best all rounder I ever owned and I used it all year round - sun or snow.
"Unfortunately it was stolen in December, 2008 and I decided to buy the newer DR-Z400SM.
"The SM is just as solid as the off road version, but in snow with road going tyres it was hell. Recently I fitted it with Avon Distanzia trail tyres and it has much improved the handling on the icy roads of Scotland.
"On the road they seem to grip just as well as any road going tyre also. However they are rather expensive, but well worth it for your own safety.
"One problem we seem to have with these bikes in the very cold conditions is carb-freeze. The SM did suffer from this problem in the beginning but now it seems to have cured itself and has done 7000 miles in 12months. In all weathers without a single problem.
"It is a great bike for touring Scotland during the winter months and a great traffic-buster around town.
"They are really solid built bikes and well worth their weight in gold."
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
As it is fairly old and not that powerful, insurance is cheap on a DRZ and with 70mpg easily achievable, it isn’t that costly to run either, especially if you do all your own servicing.
There is nothing to be feared when it comes to basic maintenance on a DRZ and if you are at all bothered, there are loads of ‘how-to’ videos online when it comes to the basics. In terms of buying one, the DRZ isn’t really much of a bargain.
Because they are such a solid and popular bike, even a tatty DRZ will fetch £1500 and there are a few tidy bikes up for close to £4000. When you look at how much a modern trail bike is, there really is no need to pay anything like this amount.
If you can get one for under £2000 you should be happy, but paying much over this mark is a bit silly when you consider you can get a Yamaha XT660R for £2500, which is just as rugged but has a bigger motor making it better for road riding, or a Honda CRF250L for about the same amount and they are superb bikes for light trail riding.
If you're after a dirtbike-style city commuter but aren't planning to go anywhere near a trail, you could also consider a Yamaha WR250X.
Make sure you include room in your budget for good quality security as the DRZ (and any dirt bike for that matter) can be a favourite for bike thieves.
You don’t get much as standard on a DRZ and aside from the helpful seat-mounted tool kit (which by now will probably have had its contents pilfered) and a degree of adjustability in its suspension (the preload can be altered at both ends) that’s your lot.
But what else does it need? You have a speedo (no fuel gauge), horn, lights and everything to be road legal and that’s it. In terms of accessories, well that’s where it get interesting.
There are loads of companies that cater for the DRZ and exhausts, suspension upgrades, new bars, sticker kits and even big-bores are common. The best extras to fit are engine case protectors as the DRZ’s cases are a bit fragile and could split or fracture in an impact, crash bars to protect the tank from dings, radiator guards, a bigger sump guard and a beefier set of brush guards if you are heading onto the trails.
To be honest, messing about with the motor is best avoided as you will start to compromise its reliability levels. If the bike looks a bit tatty, don’t worry as complete body kits are cheap to buy and you can even get a bigger capacity tank for serious adventuring.
|Engine type||4v single, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Steel perimeter|
|Fuel capacity||10 litres|
|Front brake||Single 250mm disc|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||80/100 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||120/90 x 18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||45 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£20|
9 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||39 bhp|
|Max torque||29 ft-lb|
|Top speed||94 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||14.6 secs|
|Tank range||100 miles|
Model history & versions
2000: The DR-Z400 replaced the DR350. A kickstart-only enduro, it was imported in limited numbers to the UK and could be made road legal.
2000: The DR-Z400E is sold alongside the DR-Z400 and replaces the kickstart with an electric start but otherwise is identical.
2001: The DRZ 400 S is launched. A road-legal light trail bike, it is in a lower state of tune than the DR-Z400 or DR-Z400E and comes with lights, mirrors, horn, pillion pegs and a speedo as well as a steel tank where the previous models have composite ones.
2005: The DRZ 400 SM is launched. A Supermoto version of the S, the SM has 17-inch spoke wheels, inverted forks, improved brakes and a swingarm from the RMZ.
2009: Production is stopped for the DRZ 400 S and SM.
Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI DRZ400S (2001 - 2009)
20 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI DRZ400S (2001 - 2009) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£20|
Annual servicing cost: £20
I have a dr650. Carburettor model. It has sat for 3 months at a time and it will start first time. Its ideal as a comuter bike and is happy in traffic and cruising at 120 kph. It will go up to 160kph . Its an affordable option to a german dual sport. And can actually go off road. Bad points..... that seat. Its very narrow and hard.
It is a real dual purpose bike and is great fun on a gravel road. Its not for a pillion. After 1.5 hours your arse is numb. But its got wide pegs so you can stand up.
Acceleration from 40 to 80 kph.
It did die on me once when a relay failed. I have had no corossion issues
Just needs oil change. Which i can do myself
It didnt come with bark busters , which are a must , so that when you drop it you dont break the levers. It could also benefit from a belly pan .
Buying experience: Bought it private. It was under a year old in 2012 Paid R45,000.
Great fun when compared to other 400cc+ supermotos and crossers. The DRZ-400S is the all-rounder. It doesn't do track the best (21in front wheel just doesn't lend itself to this), and it doesn't do off-road the best. It is however the machine to choose if you want to do some fun road riding, and some fun green-laning on other occasions. As with all bikes, the 39bhp stated power is optimistic, and likely taken from the crank. I had my DRZ dyno'd at 33bhp yesterday. (Mods include a Scorpion end can, which on the dizzy, means that the only stock part of the pipe left is the header, as the stock muffler joins quite far down, by the cylinder.) Other than this, and against what most people would recommend, it hasn't been re-jetted or 3x3'd, (the airbox mod with a hole cut to increase air flow). The AFR chart suggests it needs a rejet, which I suspected of course. As a result, at 140kg's, the dizzy is neither the most powerful nor the lightest of crossers. My mate's KTM 690's and 525EXC leave it behind of course. But not too much. The DRZ-400S is still fast, managing between 5-6 seconds 0-60 or so from stock, varying due to the rider's skill. This bike can be shifted through the gears exceptionally quick due to lots of torque low down, though to get the peak torque in each gear, you'll need between 7 & 9000rpms of the DRZ's 10,000, developing the 25-27lb-ft of torque the bike will give. Mine is 12 years old. I don't know how, after this long, it is still developing 33bhp and 25lb-ft of torque, even taking into account the drop from manufacturer's stated at crank. This might be due to the DRZ being seriously reliable. I've never had any serious, mysterious issues. One leaky seal, sure, but 12 year old rubber is expected to fail. Make sure you always keep your engine oil topped up and do your proper oil changes, in summer mine likes to burn around 100-200ml of oil in a week's hard riding. One big mistake would be to get one of these and not fit a straight through pipe, as it sounds absolutely delicious, and everyone tells me this. The SM version with 17'' wheels front and rear is a better choice for those who only ever want to ride on road, and also take in on track too, but I only ride road and have never had 'problems' with the large 21'' front, and 18'' back wheels, but I'm sure I'm sacrificing some handling without a doubt. The dizzy is that reliable, happy, energetic and loyal labrador amongst the fast, high maintenance, machine-like greyhounds at the racetrack. This said, when I get a more powerful, faster and more high maintenance machine, I will definitely miss the DRZ, and will probably end up buying one again, just for the character of it.
Brakes are quite soft, but result in an easy ride. The seat however, is unbearable, but depends on how bony or soft your backside is. I can't tolerate more than 1.5 hours without needing to step off. Best point is it runs very smoothly, with vibration coming in around 65mph.
Seems like a lot more than 33bhp, torque is fantastic. Acceleration is brilliant. Doesn't like to cruise much above 60mph on stock gearing.
Keep your oil checked and coolant system full and flushed clean regularly, especially in summer, and she'll be fine.
Do the jobs yourself and it'll be cheap as chips. Oil change : £30
Basic equipment, but has steering lock, good digital clock, but would be nice to have a rev-counter and fuel indicator.
Ive had this bike for 2 1/2 years now and an excellent choice as a starter bike- it is so forgiving! You go into a corner too fast and on the wrong line for example, you can put the excellent brakes on and throw it over a bit and you can knock it down a gear instantly and it's corrected and it doesn't complain and you don't need to even grab the clutch! Very easy to ride - just don't open the throttle too violently because it can surge up the road- although it's not the sort of bike to loose traction easily and the delivery is predictable. Reliability has been an issue with the modified type of bike I bought second hand but that could be due to the Laser exhaust and dyno jet etc and long crack etc.... But overall it's a character filled bike with a huge heart! It should be rite of passage for all bikers? Having said that I struggled to get the bike to wheelie and am ready to try something more road orientated and better on the motorway- it does feel a bit unstable at high speed- and you end up forcing your weight into the bike to keep it stable. Incredibly it's actually better with a pillion at speed because of the additional weight. It can deal with this and it didn't feel underpowered which is testament to its torquey nature.
amazing great for pulling around cars and can cruise quite well
i have had my drz for 7 years its a 2002 model. when i bought it it had 2,000 miles on the clock.it has now done 10,000. for around town its exeptional the motor pulls well and is quick enough to get you ahead of the traffic the handling is very good but when cornering hard the front end tends to push out but is quite predictable 21 inch front wheel doesent help i have got bridgestone trail wing tyres which wear quickly and rubbish of road but good on road.high speed handling is nervous but ok when you get used to it the fuel consumption is about 60 mpg but if ridden carefully 75 mpg is possible reliability is good i have had to do the wheel bearings chain and sprockets and steering head bearings plus throttle and clutch cables but this was due to some plonker using a pressure washer to close to the seals. the reason i have given it 5 stars is the drz has character and a real fun bike to ride ive got a 1200 bandit but my drz is my bike of choise for every day use
CAN`T PRAISE IT ENOUGH
The DRZ doesn’t do anything that will blow you away; it just doesn’t do anything badly. It’s not a hardcore off-roader and you wouldn’t say it belongs exclusively on the asphalt; it’s simply the ultimate compromise and is happy to do what you ask of it. On road the engine is in a low state of tune and pulls way beyond the 400cc would have you believe. It inspires confidence and demands that you ring the neck out of the throttle. Throwing it into corners, it has the feel of a heavy mountain-bike, you can really move about on the narrow but comfy seat and you won’t be daunted whilst riding it on its limits. You will always feel in control of the Suzuki which seems desperate to do what you ask of it within its limits. Around town is a joy, ultra agile and the high seat position gives a good all round view. National speed limits are another matter entirely, despite my 125kg weight, it’s still good for 85mph but you wouldn’t want to stay there for any length of time. A lot of joy can be gained from off-roading and the ride won’t break its stride for ruts and divots. Standing on the pegs is remarkably easy but those with larger feet may take some time to get used to it. I have size 12 feet and any contact with the side stand will kill the engine. It took a while to get my foot position right as to not foul the stand. The DRZ almost demands to be dropped, dusted off and ragged again. Running costs and general maintenance are insignificant and it’s hard to give a reason why someone during their bike career should not sample this addictive ride.
ive been out on a 2009 drz400e and i tell you what other than the speed wobble, its such good fun, the knobbly tyres take some getting used but it just begs to be abused.
Great fun bike to ride. Cheap to buy, cheap to run and insure, reliable and looks the part. The only downside is the lack of power and low top speed which will leave you feeling bored after a while. This is why i think it'd make an excellent 2nd bike for the winter/wet weather but not as a main bike.
why "S" - soooo misleading! The DRZ a street bike? a supermoto? It reaaly is not. It shoud be called the "X/C" (cross country). As an X/C it is brilliant: tarmac/off-road/tarmac/off-road is where this bike truely excelles. I do 90 miles plus a day easy, half of it greenlaning (and standing of course, the seat is so uncomfortable you ache to get in the pegs again. And you need to plan your petrol stops well when riding in the middle of nowhere! all in all: so much fun. light, powerful, responsive, great ("X/C") suspension. Just that way home on Aroads or M-ways is a real pain. Any speed over 62mph feels like the engine wants to explode (though it reaches 80mph and more - didn't dear to try); where is that sixt gear, the power would certainly be sufficiant.
Now on my second 400SM as someone else decided they would like my black 2007 model so took it from outside my front door, now have blue/white 2008 model & only difference is the brake fluid resevoir is slightly higher. Love the look of it & as my first roadbike although nothing to compare against it handles great (although fell off on grass the other day). Only niggles are that you can't fit an alarm/immobiliser & gets a little bit light on the front around top end speed. Also, seat is not the most comfortable on long journeys. Currently restricted to 33bhp so haven't bothered with any mods until that comes off next year. I would be interested to know what is available & worth fitting to improve performance as seen some stuff on the net but want to spend my money on the right gear. Also, the review states about a rev counter, is this something you can switch on because I don't have one! Good value though, ideal for new riders.
Bought my Suzuki DRZ400S last month for £2100. It is a SK model, but had been fitted with Excel rims, Braking wavy discs, a Braking caliper,Renthal bars, Full Akrapovic titanium exhaust, bark busters, iridium mini indicators, Acerbis led rear light, and the number plate ends DRZ! Fantastic looking bike, i took the Akropovic off & sold on Ebay for £300, it was really loud, and the bike was running lean with it on. Put standard can on, & saw previous owner had drilled 4 large holes in airbox. Taped these up & it now runs fine (doesnt pull as strongly, but much quieter) Top speed about 95mph, does about 65-70 mpg. The brakes & handling are fantastic. I ride an R1 in the sunny weather, but if i'm going down country lanes i will take the DRZ. Power wise i was happy, until i rode a mates CCM R30 (a 650cc). This was a revalation, and now means the DRZ now needs to go, but it is a great bike anyway
Bought this bike for greenlaning, accident at work knackered my back so no more off road. Converted back for road use and I love it! Punchy engine and high position great for country riding down smaller lanes where I wouldn't take a sports bike, Metzeller enduro3 sahara tyres are grippy but still wearing in at the moment, stable after knobblies. FMF Ti full exhaust and iridium plug have freed up breathing and pickup, top fun but exhaust a bit noisy, so made baffle as I am a bit more responsible now (42)Finish easily marked but not treated with kid gloves. Have Bandit 1200 and Yam dt, but this is the bike I use for messing about on, quicker than you think, and safer not to annoy the plod more than you have to,. Buy another? In a heartbeat
I ride a Blackbird and wanted something completely different - this is it! Positives: Light, manouverable, upright, loads of "guts", fun to ride and chuck around, incredible value for money Negatives: A little heavy to lift back up when green laneing if you accidentally put it down!, Saddle not brilliantly comfortable for long periods of road riding.
Strengths: gem of an engine with bags of character. Looks brilliant (especially in rare black/silver). Light, manoeuvrable, and loads on fun on short journeys -makes a BMW 1200 GS feel like a massive unwieldy wildebeest. Weaknesses: horrible hard narrow saddle (aftermarket saddles now at last available tho I haven't tried one). Windblast (Cee Baileys now make a screen, I haven't tried it).
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I've been riding sportbikes for 6 years, mainly gsx-r's, which were all mighty great bikes but not in the environment I was spending most of my time. In town the gixer was cumbersome and intimidating and there are no nice twisty roads in the area where i live. The only real point to own a gixer was trackdays which happens like 2 or 3 times a year. So it was time for some drastic decisions. The reason why I ride is to have fun every minute I'm on the bike and not 2 or 3 times a year. And the SM fulfils the task admirably. It has such a playful personality it hurts. And its sooo easy to manage! Around town it will blow a sportsbike to weeds no questions asked. The ergos are perfect for city commuting and the bike feels almost weightless. Its a trafic jam ultimate weapon. And if you had enough on the street just jump off the tarmac and make your way through that lawn or park. Oh, and i was 3s faster compared to gixer around the local go-kart track first day I took it there. Strengths: <br>Looks funky, completely reliable, handles beautifuly, seriously cheap to run, excellent build quality (I mean it), good adjustable suspenion, breaks have good power and feel, unintimidating to ride but tons and tons of fun. If you never managed a rolling stoppie in your life you will on this puppy, trust me on that one. And it crashes well too - I looped it in 5th doing 80mph and all the damage went to the rear lights, sidestand and handlebar cover. Gixer wouldnt be even rideable after this one. Weaknesses: Seat is hard and pain in the ass after an hour of riding. Avoid highways - you will bore yourself to death. Could use another 50cc of motor. Its not a beast like other SM's from husky or berg but I prefer Suzukis reliability instead. Standard Dunlops are ok, but not great - I wouldnt buy them again. Pilot Powers seem to be the choice for ultimate performance on tarmac and Avon Distanzias - the ones to go if you like to jump off the road ocasionally and still have excellent grip on the road.
What can you say about this bike that the sales figures don't already tell you? Currently the best dual purpose bike you can buy, and Suzuki can shift every one that they make for good reason-its a great bike Engine has enough power for gentle off-roading although it aint no 'crosser in terms of power (or weight for that matter). Can easily be pepped up with the 3x3 mod. This will add 2-3bhp all the way through the rev range, with much improved throttle response. Suspension is excellent esp on post 02 models as it is the same as that on the E model, Pre 02 models should be avoided due to soft soggy suspension. I bought mine after owning a modded KMX 200, and it is without doubt light years ahead in terms of engine and suspension. Doesn't rev like a 2 stroke though-despite what some people say Has a few design/reliabilty issues which need curing first but then its bullet proof Much better bike than my old KMX200 visit www.thumpertalk.com/forum for tips from other owners. Strengths: Engine, suspension. Weaknesses: A couple of design/reliability issues which need sorting ie Camchain tensioner, front sprocket loosening off, primary drive nut coming loose, thin engine cases.