2001 DRZ400K Long Term Test

in test


This is a long term report on the Suzuki DRZ400 that I purchased Way back in March of 02.

on 03/10/02 I wrote... This DRZ was bought at Cumberland Cycles in Cumberland Maryland. It is the kick start only DRZ400 from Suzuki. Before I picked the bike up, I ordered a Baja Designs Dual Sport kit and installed it. The kit was quite nice, the instructions were good, but stapled together upside down and backwards and generally out of order. But after pricing the parts out individually for doing the same thing the price of the kit was worth it. I also added a digital speedometer.

Right off the bat I opened up the tip of the exhaust, opened up the airbox and rejetted it using a 165 main for 2000 foot elevation. I also raised the needle 1 spot. It could still use a slightly larger pilot jet, it has a lean surge at just off idle throttle settings. I may change that, may not though, it might negatively affect hot starting. I'm going to change the front sprocket from a 14 to a 15, it is wound a little too tight for much road work. That should allow it to comfortably cruise at 55~60 without buzzing too much.

The suspension hasn't finished breaking in yet, but I don't think I'm going to change the spring rates. I currently weigh 210.. on my way down from 265 a year and two months ago. I plan on getting down to 200 before leveling off. I think the spring rates are just a touch on the soft side for me, but I don't usually sky off the big jumps anyway. The rear end is like butter through jagged rocks. It hooks up no matter how jiggly the surface is, that's a good thing in my book. The front is a tad harsh, but that's actually a good thing because it tends to not bash through all of it's travel on the big hits. Another plus in having the back end a bit soft is the front end will become unweighted when using large applications of throttle. This transfers the weight to the rear where it needs to be for maximum acceleration traction. I think I'll keep it at the stock rate for a bit and see if I start bottoming it regularly. The front on the other hand may need to be modified.. at least the high speed compression damping. I'll have to wait and see if it breaks in some more.

I added a real skid plate from Baja Designs as well. The stock plate and plastic thingys leave a bit to be desired. That water pump looks far too vulnerable to be hanging out there unprotected.


I got the new 15 tooth sprocket. I think it will do nicely. First doesn't seem to be too tall. I had it up to 85 on the road, which is plenty for this bike. It does develop a gentle weave above 50 now though. I checked the rear wheel alignment and made some adjustments, but it still has the weave. I'm thinking that shortening up the wheelbase to accommodate the extra tooth may have just pushed the bike over the limit at which it will start to shake it's head. The chain should stretch back to the old adjuster position in short order so I'll find out if that's what caused it. It didn't weave before so it seems like that's the only thing it could be. I also ordered a slightly larger pilot jet.

Today... The DRZ is still hanging in there. During my inaugural ride with LesB, the DR hit the ground three times. It was a cold wet sloppy ride. I had just come off of the TE410 that Barber once owned. So I went from a super stable bike that you couldn't knock over if you tried to a twitchy machine with eastern geometry. I could not keep the front end planted. It was all over the place. Every little bump sent it twitching. The Husky I had grown accustomed to would not deflect off of anything smaller than a 4 inch oak tree. Needless to say I pretzelled the handlebars post haste. Since then I've grown accustomed to the quicker handling. The suspension has broken in nicely which helped the deflection greatly. The front fork is no longer harsh, the rear end still feels nice and plush. I actually had to back off the preload since I've plummeted below my target weight of 200 lbs. I'm currently at 180 lbs.

The power just keeps getting better and better. I have upon occasion wished for some more power though. Particularly on the wide open fire roads or trails through wide open fields. This bike could use another gear. 5 gears on an open class bike is usually plenty, but this bike could use a 6th. The bike is heavy compared with the likes of an RMZ, but it's livable. I often find myself running into turns carrying more speed than I realize. Luckily the brakes or more than capable of keeping up. They are easy to modulate as well. Stoppies in the dirt and on the road are perfectly doable. Jumps are best handled with a bit of caution. I'm not much of a big air person anyways, but it won't land as well as a pure motocross machine. The rear end of the bike tends to move around a bit more than other machines that I've ridden. Some blame a short wheelbase coupled with a somewhat short swingarm. I've read that adding a link or two to the chain to set the rear wheel back a half inch or so does wonders for making it feel more planted. I personally have gotten used to it and even welcome the looseness to tighten up turns on demand.

I have had very few problems with the DRZ. The Baja design kit needed a bit of modification. It seems the little clip that they use to splice into the main power in the factory wiring harness wasn't up to the job. The clip is supposed to cut through the insulation and then rub against the wire under the insulation. This didn't provide a very secure contact to the main power. I cut it out and soldered a real connection in it's place. The only other problems have been a couple of nuts and bolts that have worked themselves loose over time. Nothing a little loctite couldn't handle. The rear fender of the Baja kit is a bit flexy. The license tag has been sucked into the rear tire a number of times. That's ok though, license tags should look beat up. The bike has yet to need to have it's valves adjusted and it's only on it's second spark plug.

Several impromptu races have put it's top speed at about 92 mph. shhhh :) Supermoto anybody? The gentle weave is still present. It's not bad, just a little gentle side to side sway above 50. I had a Seca that would shake it's head violently at that speed for no reason, this is nothing like that.

Oh, the stock seat is down right awful for any kind of street riding. It actually slopes backwards which makes you constantly slide to the rear. If you use any type of stickiness between you and the seat then it only pulls your pants down. It also makes everything between your legs go completely numb. The foam is neither soft nor hard. If it was hard then you would sit on top of it and all would be good. As it is, you just sink in a little bit.. just enough to transfer all the vibration to your goodies and put them to sleep. Not good. I was looking for a harder replacement seat, but could not find one. I eventually decided to get the soft replacement gel seat from suzuki which was way too soft. But it was actually a blessing. It is so soft that you actually sink down through the foam completely and end up sitting on the seat tray. In any event, the seat tray is flat and doesn't tilt to the rear. But in the woods, none of this is an issue.


The DRZ has almost always started within the first two kicks. I've only had to use the hot start button once. One odd thing that I have noticed and have not nailed down is that during a hard chilly rain the DRZ does not like to idle. I haven't modified the idle circuit at all. Perhaps it's running a bit lean during those conditions down low. I've been hesitant to meddle with it and have decided to leave it that way. Making the idle circuit any richer would affect the bikes good hot start manners.

I'm going to perform a tear down of the bike this winter and will report on the condition of the DRZs internals. I may modify the machine with some performance goodies.

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