A Trail-Ready Dual-Sport For Less
Dual-sport models that live entirely or mostly off-road suffer greater abuses and indignities than
just about any other type of motorcycle. They’re pushed hard on the single-tracks and out across rock-encrusted deserts, yet they often have to live at highway speeds for long periods (something at which they’re typically not very good), sometimes all in the same day.
Trail rash is an inescapable by-product of this lifestyle, so the fact that our donor DR-Z was a little rough around the edges wasn’t troublesome. If you know how to shop and where to look, you can take home an off-road-capable bike like our 2003 Suzuki DR-Z400S that is a diamond in the rough.
Suzuki introduced the DR-Z400 as a year-2000 model built to replace the DR350 and provide a high-tech entry in the dual-sport category dominated by both larger and smaller machinery. Suzuki hoped the 400′s liquid-cooled, dohc Single and relatively lightweight chassis would prove popular among enthusiasts who wanted more performance than a 250 without having to move up to the heavier, less-wieldy 650s.
It worked: The DR-Z400 was instantly and enduringly successful, so much so that Suzuki has made only relatively minor changes over the years. A big one was a switch from a damping-rod fork to a cartridge-style for the 2002 model, so that’s a good place to start your search. Understand, too, that there are two versions: the DR-Z400S, which is the street-legal dual-sport, and the DR-Z400E, an off-road-only enduro model. Also important for anyone intending to load the bike with a week’s worth of stuff is the S-model’s heftier rear subframe that includes a loop near the taillight for improved stiffness.
In the shopping phase, you’re likely to find a range of bikes from nearly stock to highly modified. Our example fell into the latter category and came already fitted with some of the most popular DR-Z accessories and alterations. Many of them were a plus, but some were headaches in the making.
The advantage of starting with a stock bike is that you’ll be making modifications to a relatively well-known base, and those modifications will be new to you, minus the typical scrapes and nicks of life on the trail. The other side of the argument is that, because accessories tend to lose their value very quickly (about 15 seconds after you open the package, give or take), the bike itself won’t be much more valuable if it’s equipped with them; when you buy the bike, the accessories are practically free!
What kind of money are we talking about? According to the Kelley Blue Book, the retail value (what you’d pay at a dealer) starts at $2100 for a 2000 DR-Z400S up to $4685 for a 2011 model. Our 2003′s value is $2605. Private-sale values will be somewhere between retail and the ’03 machine’s $1755 trade-in value.
Our donor bike already had many of the most popular DR-Z modifications, including a Clarke 3.9-gallon tank (the stock tank holds 2.6 gal.), an aftermarket exhaust, a skidplate, Cycra hand protectors, a UFO rear fender with integrated taillight and turnsignals, and a Pro Moto Billet Rack-It aluminum rear rack.
BikeBandit.com carries all of these items or their equivalents, which should be considered the first steps when updating any DR-Z. So, even though these components are not listed in the accompanying parts list, they should be high on your priority list.
A few electrical alterations that are popular with DR-Z riders had already been made on our bike, too. Removing the sidestand safety switch keeps a flopping stand from killing the engine over big bumps or on jump landings, and bypassing the clutch starter-lockout switch (by connecting the two yellow wires from the switch where the meet in the headlight shroud) makes mid-trail restarts easier. You’re hereby warned, though, that you now can start the bike in gear and ride off with the sidestand deployed. Be an adult.Read Full Post | Comments(0)