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.

ADVMoto DRZ450Rally Concept Front Red 1

• 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.

ADVMoto DRZ450World Concept Front White 2

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!

We took the new 2019 SWM (Speedy Working Motorcycles) RS 500 R into the high desert country of Hesperia, California with Pete Vetrano, of Motoman Distributing. Right off the bat the RS 500 R resembles a 2010 Husky TE 510. That’s because about 80% of the bike shares the same DNA (part numbers). It’s even built in the old Husqvarna plant in Varese, Italy, with top-shelf components like Brembo brakes, adjustable KYB shocks and reliable Mikuni fuel injection.

SWM RS500R 2019 10

Having read that, you’d expect the price of the RS 500 R to be up there with other 500cc European hard enduros. Surprisingly, it’s about $2,600 less than those well-known competitive brands. Mr. Vetrano told me the secret to SWM in keeping the MSRP down is using some components from countries like China, such as the seat and the air box.

The bike is lit with all LEDs, and the high beam and kill switch operate with a push-button action as compared to the more typical rocker style switches. There’s a decompression lever on the left side handlebar to assist at start up in case the battery is weak, eliminating the necessity of a kick starter.

Part of the cold start starting process on this fuel-injected bike requires the use of a “starter knob” which enriches the fuel mixture. Think of it like a choke on a carbureted bike.

Also, if the bike is in gear or neutral, you have to pull in the clutch to start the bike. Once the engine comes to life, push the starter knob back to its initial position. The steering lock is located on the right-hand side of the steering head tube, similar to a DRZ400.

SWM RS500R 2019 03

 

At 255 lb. (dry weight), the RS 500 R is a true off-road enduro-style bike that’s barely DOT legal. The throttle is very responsive and can be interpreted as “vibey” to some due to the Husky-styled powerful single-cylinder motor. The suspension felt a bit harsh, but then, you’re talking about a KYB adjustable suspension system that can be dialed in to your needs. And speaking of dialed in, the RS500R is set up for fuel mapping, providing you have the proper computer hardware and software to do so.

The RS 500 R comes with DOT Michelin Competition IVtires, and a 21/18-inch setup. It feels light on the trail as well as “flickable” and maneuverable in the tight, technical, off-camber turns of the desert hills we rode. The two-gallon stock fuel tank helps keep the weight low but the range close to basecamp. The decently sized instrument panel was clear, uncluttered, and easy to see in daylight. The Italian-made six-speed gearbox performed smoothly and I never encountered a false neutral. The clutch was on par with other bikes of its class, and nothing stood out negatively during the test ride.\

SWM RS500R 2019 07

The owner’s manual suggests this water-cooled bike should be serviced every 1,200 miles, which is on par with the other popular lightweight, yet relatively powerful off-road thumpers. What is unique is the stock dual exhaust. Pete told me this is to reduce the exhaust note and to help pass the emission tests required to import the bike into the U.S. The dual exhaust mufflers can be eliminated and replaced with a single one but only for “off road” purposes. If you go this route, you will reduce the over weight of the bike by nine pounds.

However, the charcoal canister sits awkwardly near the front right side of the bike, leaving it vulnerable to damage while riding tight trails. And the kick stand seems a tad bit long, making it difficult to get on and off the bike for my 5-foot, 11-inch frame. Other than those minor negatives, this bike seems to be a bargain that will deliver similar performance of the highly popular orange-colored enduro in today’s current market.

SWM RS500R 2019 01

Besides the 500 machine, Motoman Distributing imports a 300cc version, and they’ll soon add to the lineup an adventure-style tourer with a 600cc motor based on the Husqvarna TE 610of yesteryears that will have a longer service interval and a bigger fuel tank than this 500cc dual-sport. To see the RS 500 R and the other bikes Motoman Distributing is importing from SWM, check out their website to see what’s cooking. MotoManDistributing.com  MSRP: $7,795


PROS:

  • Great price point
  • Quality components
  • Superb off-road handling

CONS:

  •  Kick stand too long
  •  Larger fuel tank would be nice
  •  Needs more dealer representation

• Specifications:

ENGINE:

• Displacement: 501cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke, single
• CLUTCH: Hydraulic, multi-plate
• TRANSMISSION: 6-speed

CHASSIS:

• DRY WEIGHT (claimed): 255.7 lbs.
• FUEL CAPACITY: 1.9 gal
• FRONT SUSPENSION: Kayaba, USD fork, fully adjustable
• REAR SUSPENSION: Kayaba shock, fully adjustable
• FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL: 11.6 in.
• REAR WHEEL TRAVEL: 11.7 in.
• FRONT BRAKE: Brembo, single 260mm disc
• REAR BRAKE: Brembo, single 240mm disc
• FRONT TIRE: 90/90 x 21 in., Michelin Enduro
• REAR TIRE: 140/80 x 18 in., Michelin Enduro
• SEAT HEIGHT: 37.6 in.
• GROUND CLEARANCE: 11.8 in.


{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/SWM/RS500R/Gallery{/gallery}

 

We took the new 2019 SWM (Speedy Working Motorcycles) RS 500 R into the high desert country of Hesperia, California with Pete Vetrano, of Motoman Distributing. Right off the bat the RS 500 R resembles a 2010 Husky TE 510. That’s because about 80% of the bike shares the same DNA (part numbers). It’s even built in the old Husqvarna plant in Varese, Italy, with top-shelf components like Brembo brakes, adjustable KYB shocks and reliable Mikuni fuel injection.

SWM RS500R 2019 10

Having read that, you’d expect the price of the RS 500 R to be up there with other 500cc European hard enduros. Surprisingly, it’s about $2,600 less than those well-known competitive brands. Mr. Vetrano told me the secret to SWM in keeping the MSRP down is using some components from countries like China, such as the seat and the air box.

The bike is lit with all LEDs, and the high beam and kill switch operate with a push-button action as compared to the more typical rocker style switches. There’s a decompression lever on the left side handlebar to assist at start up in case the battery is weak, eliminating the necessity of a kick starter.

Part of the cold start starting process on this fuel-injected bike requires the use of a “starter knob” which enriches the fuel mixture. Think of it like a choke on a carbureted bike.

Also, if the bike is in gear or neutral, you have to pull in the clutch to start the bike. Once the engine comes to life, push the starter knob back to its initial position. The steering lock is located on the right-hand side of the steering head tube, similar to a DRZ400.

SWM RS500R 2019 03

 

At 255 lb. (dry weight), the RS 500 R is a true off-road enduro-style bike that’s barely DOT legal. The throttle is very responsive and can be interpreted as “vibey” to some due to the Husky-styled powerful single-cylinder motor. The suspension felt a bit harsh, but then, you’re talking about a KYB adjustable suspension system that can be dialed in to your needs. And speaking of dialed in, the RS500R is set up for fuel mapping, providing you have the proper computer hardware and software to do so.

The RS 500 R comes with DOT Michelin Competition IVtires, and a 21/18-inch setup. It feels light on the trail as well as “flickable” and maneuverable in the tight, technical, off-camber turns of the desert hills we rode. The two-gallon stock fuel tank helps keep the weight low but the range close to basecamp. The decently sized instrument panel was clear, uncluttered, and easy to see in daylight. The Italian-made six-speed gearbox performed smoothly and I never encountered a false neutral. The clutch was on par with other bikes of its class, and nothing stood out negatively during the test ride.\

SWM RS500R 2019 07

The owner’s manual suggests this water-cooled bike should be serviced every 1,200 miles, which is on par with the other popular lightweight, yet relatively powerful off-road thumpers. What is unique is the stock dual exhaust. Pete told me this is to reduce the exhaust note and to help pass the emission tests required to import the bike into the U.S. The dual exhaust mufflers can be eliminated and replaced with a single one but only for “off road” purposes. If you go this route, you will reduce the over weight of the bike by nine pounds.

However, the charcoal canister sits awkwardly near the front right side of the bike, leaving it vulnerable to damage while riding tight trails. And the kick stand seems a tad bit long, making it difficult to get on and off the bike for my 5-foot, 11-inch frame. Other than those minor negatives, this bike seems to be a bargain that will deliver similar performance of the highly popular orange-colored enduro in today’s current market.

SWM RS500R 2019 01

Besides the 500 machine, Motoman Distributing imports a 300cc version, and they’ll soon add to the lineup an adventure-style tourer with a 600cc motor based on the Husqvarna TE 610of yesteryears that will have a longer service interval and a bigger fuel tank than this 500cc dual-sport. To see the RS 500 R and the other bikes Motoman Distributing is importing from SWM, check out their website to see what’s cooking. MotoManDistributing.com  MSRP: $7,795


PROS:

  • Great price point
  • Quality components
  • Superb off-road handling

CONS:

  •  Kick stand too long
  •  Larger fuel tank would be nice
  •  Needs more dealer representation

• Specifications:

ENGINE:

• Displacement: 501cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke, single
• CLUTCH: Hydraulic, multi-plate
• TRANSMISSION: 6-speed

CHASSIS:

• DRY WEIGHT (claimed): 255.7 lbs.
• FUEL CAPACITY: 1.9 gal
• FRONT SUSPENSION: Kayaba, USD fork, fully adjustable
• REAR SUSPENSION: Kayaba shock, fully adjustable
• FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL: 11.6 in.
• REAR WHEEL TRAVEL: 11.7 in.
• FRONT BRAKE: Brembo, single 260mm disc
• REAR BRAKE: Brembo, single 240mm disc
• FRONT TIRE: 90/90 x 21 in., Michelin Enduro
• REAR TIRE: 140/80 x 18 in., Michelin Enduro
• SEAT HEIGHT: 37.6 in.
• GROUND CLEARANCE: 11.8 in.


{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/SWM/RS500R/Gallery{/gallery}

 

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