The iconic Suzuki DR-Z400 has been a popular choice for dual-sport enthusiasts and world travelers since its inception in 2000. Worldwide, the DR-Z400 is available in multiple versions utilizing a single-cylinder 398cc that pumps out a respectable 39hp.Combined with long travel, adjustable suspension, liquid-cooling, proper off-road wheels, and Japanese-built reliability, it’s easy to see why it became a staple for budget conscious commuters, trail riders or even the occasional hare scrambler.
Despite its age, the DR-Z is a promising platform for some minor upgrades which would make it a viable option to rival European dual-sports at an affordable pricepoint. A new DR-Z could also be a major turning point in Suzuki's lineup, allowing them to square off with major competitors and take advantage of the rapidly growing dual-sport/ADV market. With so much interest in mid-sized adventure dual-sport bikes, ADVMoto got creative and rendered what an updated DR-Z 450 Rally could look like. We also don't want to forget the upgrades it would need to be an affordable pace-setting bike for everyone interested in cool looking, versatile and practical rides.
• It’s a Family Affair - Bring the Improvement Philosophy for V-Stroms to the DRZ
The Suzuki V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 1000 are some of the best-selling adventure motorcycles in the world, and the 650 outsells the 1000 two-to-one. Suzuki consistently upgrades these models to keep them relevant with current market trends, and with each revision the V-Stroms find their way towards the top of the popularity list for three main reasons – affordability, practicality and reliability.
Honda is also the only Japanese manufacturer that currently produces a street-legal, 450cc single-cylinder dual-sport. Following its announcement in 2018, complaints about the premium pricing and short service intervals flew around the internet. It’s too far on the “race” side of the spectrum with barely enough street hardware to achieve the DOT stamp and legally connect trail heads without upsetting law enforcement. Should Yamaha and Kawasaki follow suit, their options would be to modify their 450cc enduros for street legality, putting them in the same boat to receive the same criticism as Honda.
• Make a Wish - Changes we would like to See in the DRZ-400 Platform
The dual-sport and ADV category is the fastest growing on the market and a rally replica DR-Z 450 is exactly what Suzuki needs in their line-up. Featuring a five gallon gas tank, a rally tower and windscreen with GPS mount, and full-street hardware, the DR-Z450R could instantly become the most sought after motorcycle in the dual-sport/ADV community, especially if they can keep the affordable price. Suzuki could be the first major manufacturer to offer a practical 450cc rally replica based on a tried and true platform.
2020 would be a prime time to announce the 20th Anniversary and an updated DR-Z. While this is unlikely to happen, we’ll continue to keep our fingers crossed and dream on. But, if you’re listening, Suzuki, build these bikes; we’ll take two. Then give the DR650 a similar treatment. And for Pete’s sake, fix the leaky countershaft sprocket seal!
Suzuki has a unique opportunity to evolve an old bike into what could very well be a best-selling dual-sport. Maybe, its wishful thinking but you never know! As long as we continue to make our demands heard, eventually calls will be answered. Before too long, we can finally put our money down on a versatile and fun 450 to ride off into the sunset with.
Stay tuned for the full article with more images and initial concept sketched in the July/August edition of ADVMoto! Do you own or have you owned a DRZ? Where do you think Suzuki has room to improve? At what price point would you buy an updated DRZ450? Is there anything we left out? Chime-in in the comments below and let us know what you think!