Based around Suzuki's DR-Z400S dual purpose/enduro model, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM first appeared in the Suzuki catalogs back in 2005. The DR-Z400SM's frame and engine had already proven themselves as reliable units, so little alteration was required for its application to a street-focused motard machine. The main change on the Suzuki DR-Z400SM form the DR-Z400S was in the rolling stock, 17-inch wheels front and rear (as opposed to a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear on the DR-Z400S) and stickier road-spec tires are the main differences. The Suzuki DR-Z400SM also runs different suspension, a bigger front disc brake (borrowed from the GSX-R), and different gearing to the DR-Z400S. The rest of the changes between the two are largely cosmetic.
In the years that followed, the Suzuki DR-Z4090SM changed little, so mechanically, there were no significant changes on the 2012-spec Suzuki DR-Z400SM over the original model. That meant the same 398cc DOHC liquid-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder engine with electric start (no kick starter), supermotard-tuned exhaust and a 5-speed transmission. The Suzuki DR-Z400SM is unique in that it's the only Japanese-made supermotard of 400cc capacity.
Visually, the main change on the 2010 Suzuki DR-Z400SM over the preceding 2009 model was in the color and graphics. The all-black look and 'barbed wire' graphic on the 2009 DR-Z400SM was replaced with a striking black and white look that was plainer and cleaner. The fuel tank, mirrors and headlight surround were black, as were the fork shrouds for the Up-side down Showa forks. Side plastics and mudguards were white, with basic, subtle graphics carrying the Suzuki 'S' and DR-Z logo. Blue accents on these graphics picked up on the other standout visual feature on the 2010 Suzuki DR-Z400SM, the blue anodized Excel rims. These, more than anything else, gave the 2010 model a real point of difference.
The Suzuki DR-Z400SM's instrumentation is all-digital, featuring speedometer, odometer and clock. There's also a programmable tripmeter (distance and time) with timer and stopwatch function. Alongside the instrumentation that nestles in a square box behind the headlight fairing is a vertically-stacked cluster of four warning lights for indicators, neutral, high beam and temperature. The headlight is a 60/65W halogen headlight that offers plenty of illumination, whether on or off-road.
Upon its release, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM was generally agreed to be a great all-rounder, but more of a street focused machine, as befitting its original purpose. Handling was praised, while the long travel suspension, derived from Suzuki's RM motocross bikes, soaked up all sorts of bumps and road irregularities with ease. The thin seat and small fuel tank limit the DR-Z400SM's potential as a tourer. For regular short run road used acceleration and torque also got the thumbs up for producing quick 'getaways' from the traffic lights.
When new, few criticisms were leveled at the Suzuki DR-Z400SM. The thin seat isn't really suitable for long rides, so the fitting of an aftermarket seat or gel pad appears to be a common addition. Some also suggested the Suzuki DR-Z400SM would have benefited from a sixth gear. At top speed, the engine vibrations were also noticeable, but this was a feature common to all larger capacity single-cylinders. With some buyers picking up their Suzuki DR-Z400SM specifically for competition use, modifications in the form of aftermarket carburetor kits, air filters, exhaust systems and various tuning modifications, as well as braking and sprocket changes, appear to be common. Most of the Suzuki DR-Z400SMs on the market today appear to have had at least some performance modifications made. That said. The factory-spec items are more than suitable for most applications, but for those who want 'more' out their Suzuki DR-Z400SM, especially for racing, there are plenty of options available.
Where the Suzuki DR-Z400SM really wins is as a comfortable street machine for taller riders. 180Cm and taller who don't want to spend their time hunched over a sportsbike will appreciate the riding position that the Suzuki DR-Z400SM offers. Conversely, that means the DR-Z400SM isn't the est choice for shorter riders. Handling, as you'd expect given the motorcycle's light weight, wide motocross-style Renthal handlebars and overall height, is very good. Braking, for a light motorcycle, is quite good, too, with the larger discs able to haul the Suzuki DR-Z400SM up without being too 'grabby'.
The Suzuki DR-Z400SM is suitable for first-timers, and arguably a better motorcycle to learn and develop your riding skills on that some of the other options out there. Of course, given its origins, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM can handle the gravel and dirt trails, for those in the market for a commuter, urban tourer or tarmac/dirt machine, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM is worth a closer look. Given its originally intended purpose, the DR-Z400SM would also make a good fun track day motorcycle, too. Redbaron in Bangkok has several Suzuki DR-Z400's in stock.Tag: SuzukiDR-Z400SM400ccSingle-CylinderSupermotardShowaMotardLiquid-CooledDOHC