A New DRZ400! 6 Speed & EFI – Bikes That Need To Be Made


Ah, the good ole DR-Z400. This legendary bike off road from Suzuki was first released in 2000 and is still powering on today, basically unchanged too. As you may or may not know, Honda has just announced their new CRF300L and Kawasaki the KLX300 dual sport. And you know what I think Suzuki should do? Trump both of them and announce a new DR-Z400.

So I know it’s not just me who thinks Suzuki should make a new, updated DR-Z400. I’ve been thinking it for ages, I’ve had multiple people comment on my recent videos and the internet has been screaming out for one for years. I mean, the last update the DR-Z had was in 2007 and that was only to the crappy S model.

The current DR-Z400 is a good bike, but it could be so much better. It’s well overdue for an update.

So currently there are 3 versions of the DR-Z400. We have the E model, a more off road biased version which has higher performance, approximately 48hp at the crank and is slightly lighter. Ok 48hp is definitely generous, but it’s what Suzuki quotes alright.

Then there’s the S model,  a softer dual sport version with approximately 40hp at the crank, lower compression, a smaller carburettor and a stronger sub frame. And finally we have the SM, the motard version.

Now in Australia, the E model is street legal whereas it isn’t in some overseas markets (I’m looking at you United States). They have to put up with the shite S model.

Now, while I know a lot of people are excited for the new CRF300L and KLX300, I have a strong feeling they are both going to be underpowered and the CRF is going to have rubbish suspension. To me, it’s hard to recommend a CRF250L or KLX250S over a DRZ400. The DRZ400 is better off road, weighs the same, has more power and is stupidly reliable.

The new KLX300 and CRF300L will be good bikes, but no doubt underpowered.

Now the current DRZ still sells by the truck load, but it still has some issues and it could be way better. First up, it has a 5 speed transmission with terrible ratios, the stators tend to burn out and the regulator rectifier needs to be upgraded, the seats just too hard, the suspension is way too soft and it’s still running a carburettor. 

What I’m proposing is Suzuki scraps the S version, and has just one off road version. The SM model can still exist for all those motard fans.

So, what do I think Suzuki should do to make an upgraded DR-Z400? The first change I would make is getting rid of that archaic carby and move to electronic fuel injection. Now I can already hear the comments, ‘’But Curtis, EFI, that’s just another thing to go wrong. What if I’m in the Sahara and my EFI fails?!” No, no it won’t. I mean come on people, it’s no longer 1950, fuel injection has been around forever now and is nearly never at fault. While carburettors are fine, EFI is simply superior. Its stupidly reliable now, bikes start easier with it, they run better and you don’t have to worry about elevation changes. And if you are riding a DR-Z400, there’s a fair chance you’ll find yourself riding in a wide variety of elevations.

Next up is the transmission. My first option would be to change it to a 6 speed. Boom, fixed, done. I’m happy if they keep it as a 5 speed, but boy do they need to change the ratios. I’ve ridden a DR-Z400 tons of times and find that the 5th gear is way too short and the lower gears are just…wrong. This isn’t fixed with a simple sprocket change either. When you do that, first gear is too long for the dirt and fifth is still too short. So, that’s the next big thing I think recommend they change.

Honestly, if they just did these two things, I’d be pretty happy and I think a lot of others would be too. But this is us fooling around and we can do better people!

Fix the seat by adding softer seat foam. Add LED lighting to save weight and upgrade the current candle they call a headlight. Tidy up the rear end so it’s less Khloe Kardashian and more Jessica Alba. Fix the stator problems. Give it a makeover to bring it out of 1999 and into…well maybe 2020 because it’s fucked, let’s try 2021. And finally, firm up that soggy suspension. Some heavier springs and thicker oil should do it. Or even better, put some RMX450Z suspension on it. Now we’re talking.

While I’d love the bike to be a 450, a 400 with EFI would be fine. The RMX450Z suspension though…

And voila, we have a dual sport that nearly everyone wants. I’d be happy if they didn’t even upgrade the engine bar adding EFI. Sure, making it a 450 would be epic, but we want to keep it at pretty much the same price it is already.

Will Suzuki do it? Probably not while you dumb asses keep buying their pus S model and ancient DRZ400E’s by the truck load. Expect Suzuki to do ‘’bold new graphics’’ for plenty of years to come as a result.

Everyone at the moment is searching for that ‘’unicorn’’ dual sport. And frankly, it just doesn’t exist. Yep, every bike isn’t perfect, but I think my new DR-Z400 would be pretty bloody good. What do you guys think, should Suzuki make my new DRZ400? Let me know in the comments.

Alright everyone, thanks for reading and keep it OnTheBackWheel.    

2 Comments

  1. ….I gotta say that the biggest weakness of DRZ 400 design is the 5 speed close ratio transmission. From the factory it can be sprocketed up for highway speed but then first gear is too tall to be practical for off road. Or it can be sprocketed down for a lovely ride in the boonies but you’ll be looking for a 6th gear to get you up to highway speed.
    I love my DRZ but was totally frustrated that it was not perfectly suited for BOTH on and off road.

    SOLUTION!!:
    ACT WIDE RATIO GEARSET.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5VyQMO9_aU
    With this upgrade you actually widen the spread between the gears inside the transmission. You do have to split the case and get into the guts of your little hoss to change the actual gears of the actual transmission but your reward is a perfect spread of ratios from a nice low 1st gear for single track up to a 5th which is taller than stock S model 5th. I cruise effortlessly all day at 125 km/hr (with a small windscreen) but then simply turn off-road anywhere for some real tight trail riding. …REALLY the best of both worlds with no sprocket changes. With a big Clark gas tank and a home customized seat I’m now approaching 93,000 km on mine…after a lifetime of Ducatis I can honestly say that this little hoss has brought me more two wheeled freedom than any other bike.
    Please don’t comment on the virtues of changing sprocket sizes….That’s an entirely different operation that does not provide the same results at all.

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  2. I have a 2000 DRZ-400. Yes, it needs fuel injection, LED front end, and six speeds. I am not aware of the suspension being too soft – I think that is only true for riders over 180lbs (men used to weigh 166 lbs on average in the US before fast-food).

    Too bad the 2022 KTM 500 EXC-F costs so much.

    Like

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