The Ideal Trail Mate Suzuki DRZ400E

Date 06.7.2016

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader


AMCN’s Road Test Editor, Paul Young, Takes Us On  A Quick Fang With the Onroad – Offroad Trail Mate, Suzuki DR-Z400E

Months ago a neighbour asked me for advice on buying a trailbike. A lifelong road-rider, he’d grown bored with riding the same old roads and wanted to breathe some life into his love of motorcycling. So into the classifieds his Speed Triple went, and into his life came a DR-Z400E, just as I’d recommended.

Ten months on, and having been out in the dirt every other weekend, he is loving trail riding and feeling no inclination to trade in the DR-Z.

Reacquainting myself with the DR-Z only reassured me that I’d given the right advice. The trusty yellow tractor is the workhorse of the trailbike world, and though it hasn’t changed a great deal since its release in 1990, it still sits in the top 10 off-roaders sold in Australia.

Sure, if it’s enduro racing you want, you will need a competition-grade machine. If it’s trail riding in the bush, then riding to work the next day, and all without changing oil and valves every five minutes, there isn’t a much the DR-Z can’t do or get through.

Although a little overweight for the ideal off-roader, with rather soft suspension, somehow this rarely holds it back from ploughing through trails at a rate belying its humble specification. The tractive force of its torquey engine and the sheer inertia of the bike seems to barge through and over all in its path.

Its softly suspended chassis doesn’t equate to a lack of control. The adjustable Showa cartridge fork and shock are genuine off-road items, not soft-core dual-sport equipment, and capable of being tuned to suit more aggressive riding if required.

With a sprinkling of aftermarket parts, the DR-Z can easily be made lighter, tauter and faster, with the same dependable heart that has been beating through the bush for the past 14 years. But truthfully, the best thing to do with a DR-Z is to simply change the stock handlebar for a stronger aluminium item, fit the all-important Barkbusters, possibly a big tank, and just ride it.

Being road legal and LAMS approved, it’s extremely proficient at tackling the worst Mother Nature can put in your path.

It’s the epitome of versatility for those wishing to commute to the city Monday to Friday, then ride straight from work to the bush before sunset – ready for a fun-filled weekend blasting around on challenging trails.

For this quickfang I took our Art Director Paul Andrews, who passed his bike test six months ago, out for his first-ever trail ride. The fact he and the DR-Z survived the many unintended diversions down very steep and rutted 4WD tracks speaks volumes for the bike, but not as much as Paul’s instant love of trail riding. Proof positive that the humble DR-Z is an ideal trail mate.

SPEX | Suzuki DR-Z400E


Configuration Single-cylinder

Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder

Capacity 398cc

Bore/stroke 90 x 62.6mm

Compression ratio 12.2:1

Cooling Liquid

Fuelling Keihin FCR39SS flat-side carburettor

Power: 24.9kW (claimed)

Torque: 34.7Nm (claimed)



Type Five-speed

Clutch Wet

Final drive Chain



Frame Steel

Frame layout Tubular diamond




Front: 49mm fork, compression and rebound adjustment, 288 mm travel

Rear: Monoshock, preload, compression and rebound adjustment, 295mm travel



Wheels Aluminium rims, steel spokes
Front: 21 x 1.6 Rear: 18 x 2.15

Tyres Bridgestone Gritty EDO 3 / EDO 4

Front 80/100/21 (51P)

Rear 120/90/18 (65P)




Front: Single 250mm disc,
two-piston caliper

Rear: Single 220mm disc,
single-piston caliper



Weight 138kg (wet, claimed)

Seat height 935mm

Max length N/A

Wheelbase 1475mm

Fuel capacity 10L



Fuel USE 5.3L/100km (claimed)

Top speed 140km/h (est)



Test bike Suzuki Australia


Colour options Champion Yellow

Warranty 24 months/unlimited kilometres

Price From $7990 (plus on-road costs)



– Price

– Road Legal

– Proven reliability



– Weight

– Crappy handlebar