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Okay, so tomorrow I am probably going to buy a 2003 DRZ400S. I already have a DR350, but having a few problems with paperwork (stolen and recovered) and have therefore reviewed my RTW choice. I saw the bike today and loved it, mostly because its yellow colour matches my blonde locks ;-) but I haven't had much time to do any research on its RTW prowess (I spent days if not weeks researching the DR350), so was wondering if you guys could give me a hand.
I don't really need info on which bikes are worse or better than this bike, but just the meaty stuff on this bike; the pros and cons personal to this bike.
The DRZ400 is a superb little bike for a women to use as a general RTW bike. It's small, light, robust, put together well and has a very reliable power plant. The only negative point is the standard seat which is like sitting on a cheesewire! Ouch... Fit a gel seat replacement!
Offroad it's truly superb. The bike may struggle a bit on the motorway but providing your happy plodding along at 60 mph all day, it's not a real problem. Try not to overload the bike too much as it develops less than 40 BHP.
I know others on here that literally swear by this little bike. It would be my own No1 pick if I wanted a sub 600cc RTW bike. My NO1 choice for a RTW would be the venerable XT600 (no surprises there then).
I have a drz400sm and I don't think I'd take it around the world.
I'm 5'7" and even the sm was too tall for me (I shaved an inch off the seat and it's fine for me now). It's a very narrow seat and for distance you really need to modify or replace it.
Gearbox is smooth but the lever action is too long resulting in many missed changes.
Mileage is so-so, about 50mpg with a very small tank. You'll need to fill up every 100 miles.
Turning circle is abysmal for a dirtbike (maybe it's better on the S).
Engine was to me disappointing- little torque, poor spread of power. Yet first gear is too tall and top gear is too short. Obviously it runs very lean so maybe airbox and carb modifications would help - at the expense of even poorer fuel economy. It's nice enough in the midrange and pretty smooth. Just very flat. There's a very bad stumble just off idle which I will investigate once my warranty has runs its course.
Handling is good. Manoevering at 2mph is very well balanced. The sm has a steeper head angle than the s and is twitchy over bumps at speed. I travel a lot faster on a ratty back road on my dr650 than on the sm.
No problems with the electrics though even used every day the battery seems marginal, barely up to the task. No kickstart on the sm. Lights are just adaquate.
Things to watch out for: the front sprocket loosens off causing wear on the other side of the gearbox casting - loctite it well. Mine has come loose twice in 10,000 miles.
There are rumours to the effect that the automatic can chain tensioner is suspect and overstresses the chain. A manual version is available.
(Sorry this is mostly negative - actually I still enjoy the bike as a commuter. To me the dr350 would actually be better on account of the 6th gear).
I took a friend of mine for a trip from FL to Panama and back (over 10000 miles)on his DRZ400S
here are few things to change on the bike to make ita better ride for long ride.
-better seat (very important)
-better shock spring (if you carry a lot of gear)
-sproket need to be change for better HWY speed( standar will make you run 65 to 70 Miles?H)
a small windshiel (spitfire)
I had the DRZ400E and loved it , the E and S are great bike all arround and easy to work on , a lot of cheap accessories fun off road and pretty good on road (for a 400)
Good luck in your venture.
Thanks guys...keep it coming......I have 10 hours before I pick the bike up (or not????).
Ned, cheers for the negative response, and in such detail - it does help no end to know the crap stuff about the DRZ and its interesting to see the contrast with what Kentfallen has to say (cheers for the warning about the cheesewire! I had suspected as much...)
HendiKaf - cheers for the breakdown of mods - jolly useful!
Is there anyone out there that would say they would definitely not take the DRZ (the key point here is that I want a small bike for RTW)
I think alot of Ned's negatives are due to the fact his is the SM model. Mine is the E (enduro) model which was intended for off road use. The S is pretty similar to the E - the main differences being the carburettor, plastic petrol tank and suspension.
Definitely check/adjust the cam chain tensioner. I believe the tensioner problems were on the earlier models.
It might also be worth changing the output shaft spacer for a stainless steel one. The standard ones eventually rust which tears the lip seal and dumps your oil. It's a pretty quick/easy job and kits are available.
Also, as standard the carburettor breather pipes hang down below the engine. Route a couple of them up under the seat otherwise the engine dies when going through water (fords, big puddles ets.)
Would I take it RTW? It depends on how much serious off road I intended doing. It's a bit slow and uncomfortable (seat) for alot of road work but fantastic in the dirt. Any bike is going to be heavy when fully loaded and certainly the off road handling will be compromised.
If you honestly intend doing mostly off road - go for it. Be honest with yourself and don't buy it because it looks cool or 'just in case' you do the odd dirt road.
Yep, I need to fix that stumble. I tried adjusting the fuel screw and ended up back where I started. Some day soon...
If you're trimming the seat, remove the foam from the base and cut from underneath.
Alec in coreracing.co.uk will sell you an safari tank (28 ltres?). Very good product. I've one on my dr.
I've lowering links which I'll sell you for half the purchase price if you're interested. Used once. However they mess up the suspension action so I can't really recommend them (I'm some salesman!)
One last thing, in the drz's favour it does have great low speed poise, which comes into its own when doing u-turns, manoeuvering on slippy ferry decks, parking on gravel drives etc. This makes up for a lot.
Charlotte did you get the DRZ I am looking at one myself so all these comments are useful to many. One thing I noticed you already have the DR 350, would it not be worth sticking with it the engine is simpler so you would have less hasel with water cooling. Just a thought but if you really want a new ride good luck and enjoy it.
Right guys, so I didnt get the DRZ in the end. All your comments were wonderfully helpful, but when I actually rode the bike all that paled into insignificance - it just didnt feel right - for one it was hoooooooge - I barely had my big toe on each foot on the ground, which although some lowering would sort out, at the end of the day I didnt immediately mould with the bike....unlike my DR350. The DRZ for me was too off-road orientated, in its stance, what the engine had to give, and how it reacted to me. The guy selling the bike was also a bit of a nob which always puts me off.
It has however rekindled my love for my DR350.....I cant wait to get her back on the road and start mod-ing her - but it may have to be a different bike because of the whole stolen and recovered paperwork thingy, so if anyone knows of a DR350 going then give us a holler.
Those guys on Mondo Enduro did ok on their DR350's so I would have to say go with that.
I was either going to get a DR350 or the XT600 that I ended up with. The DR was a tad too small for me, but then I probably have an advantage on you going down hill...
I seen too many little DR's struggling as theyre being passed by trucks whilst they wobble their way around the M25 enroute to a ferry. Hence getting the bigger bike
Considering the money you are going to spend on a newer bike, I think that its totally worth getting your stolen recovered back onto the road, Youll have much more money left for your trip, and a sixth gear.
And you'll need to get the rest of this gear anyway:
Get a bigger 23l acerbis tank, strengthen up the rear subframe by integrating it into your luggage rack, and do a total engine rebuild. Whilst youre there Sand blast and then spray the chassis Yellow to satisfy your sensibilities.
Old bikes have a lot going for them:
Cheap carnets, easy to maintain, simplicity to run and everyone already knows how to work on them and where they go wrong.
You also dont need to stress so much about loosing the bike. Additionally its not worth as much to anyone else.
I'm regretfully watching Sahara at this very moment and wishin I were there now.
P.S. The DR400 is an amazing bike, I'm pretty impressed that that many faults have been picked up! Thats really nitpicking! try sitting on the New BMW X Challenge... Thats high!
Hey Neil, Charlotte beat you to it. She's already answered your question.
Charlotte and others going long-distance on the DR350: there is a topic in the Suzuki section about a serious engine problem with a link on how to check and fix. Read and act before leaving home.
Another suggestion, may apply to other bikes with high gearing: take the smallest front sprocket available as a spare. It will help you no end in certain tight spots where you have very rough roads. I dropped my DR650 a few times, because it stalled in 1st, *with* a small front sprocket.
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