Years sold: 2000-present
MSRP new: $5349 (2000)
Blue Book retail value: $2540 (2000) to $4825 (2009)
Basic specs: A 398cc, liquid-cooled, electric-start, dohc, single-cylinder four-stroke dual-purpose machine with a six-speed gearbox. It weighs 301 pounds dry, has 11.3 inches of front-wheel travel and 11.6 inches at the rear.
Why it won: The DR-Z400S was what every previous Japanese dual-purpose bike had not been: significantly uncompromised. Suzuki built the S-model by starting with the off-road-only DR-Z400E and adding only the equipment necessary to make the bike street-legal. The result was a motorcycle that, with its stock d-p tires, was a great commuter, a decent backroad scratcher, a passable supermoto racer and even could handle fairly long rides in reasonable comfort. Slap on a set of knobbies and it could go anywhere a full-fledged dirtbike could go. No wonder Cycle World and other magazines around the world deemed it one of the best all-around motorcycles ever built.
From the Ten Best story: “Compromise, schmompromise, Suzuki’s DR-Z400S is so similar to its off-road-only siblings that you forget it’s street-legal—until you get to the end of the trail and realize you can keep going.”
Useful resources: A decent amount of information is accessible via the Internet, including bikes for sale, available parts and accessories, and even a few forums. The DR-Z400S is a very popular machine among clubs that stage dual-sport rides, so you can gain a lot of insight into these bikes by contacting any such groups that operate near you.