Reviewed: The Project Bike Files – 2010 Suzuki DRZ400
By: Greg Masters
Part 1 – MR VERSATILE
I was driving down the Pacific Highway, the phone rang and to my surprise it was Benny Foster, the editor of DIRT ACTION magazine. After a bit of banter he asked me how I would like a project bike for six months, and I asked, “What do you reckon? Hell yeah, I am up for that for sure”. He then told me I was the perfect guy for the bike we have in mind. “What do you mean?” He replied with, “It’s a new DR-Z400.”
Well, I was a little taken aback, as I had some upside-down forked, fire-breathing, fuel injected enduro or motocross machine in mind.
Well after having the DR-Z for around three weeks I have been riding it every chance I get, whether it’s up to the shops to buy a slab of Mexico’s finest brews or meeting up with the boys to do some trailriding on the weekend. And at this stage, I think he could be onto something!
So far I haven’t touched much on the bike in regards to set-up. The first trailride I didn’t do anything; I just geared and fuelled up and took off down the coast to a piece of forestry which is full off sneaky single trails that can be super snotty and technical in places, but quite fast and flowing in others.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this thing straight out of the box is a joy to ride, however this was just a cruisy journey to see what might have to be changed before I head out again with some of the faster lads I am lucky enough to be able to ride with now and then.
To fill you in on why Benny was saying I might be the perfect candidate, this is how my rap sheet reads: I’m on the duller side of my 30s, I have three little kids, a wife, and have to work to a budget. I’m 188cm and around 95kg. Which means when I get a chance, I don’t really have time to put bikes on the trailer or in the van — which is not a problem with the DR-Z as it’s road registered. I just kick and go –sorry hit the button and out the driveway I go. After being a van or trailer bloke pretty much forever, I can now see the why there are so many guys out there who do it this way.
RIDE NUMBER TWO
For my second ride, it was going to be a bit faster, so I changed the bars from the standard steel type to a set of Windham Pro Tapers that Ben sent me up with the bike. There was nothing wrong with the standard ones at all, but one decent crash could bring their life to an abrupt end. As this ride was going to be a bit quicker, it was a chance that I didn’t want to take, plus I feel more comfortable with the Pro Tapers when in the standing position.
I also wound the rear spring down 10mm, as it was a bit of a low rider on the standard setting. That’s all I have done. I haven’t touched a clicker at either end as yet, and I’m not in that much of a hurry to do so either, as it feels pretty good even when going quicker in the bush.
I met up with the lads at our meeting point and off we went. The pace was fairly fast — for me anyway. One of the fastest guys in Australia led us out. When I say fast, I mean fast, as he is a one-time AORC champion and is off to Europe this year to pilot a factory machine in the world enduro title.
Most of you who follow the Australian enduro scene would know who I am talking about, but for this story we will call him Frank, as he pens for a competition mag. One of the other lads, Fulvio, was there clocking up some time in preparation for the upcoming A4DE.
At first I was pretty happy with the pace I was keeping, and both Frank and Fulvio were also surprised. As we got deeper into the Mulga the boys started to pull away a bit, which was mainly due to my fitness, but also because I was carrying more weight than them on the bike (roughly 30kg more I worked out later on).
For the record, the terrain they were getting away from me in was very tight and technical, and at the end of the section I had still kept a decent pace going. The power is super smooth, so traction wasn’t a problem at all, even on the gnarly hill climbs we did. The brakes have a good feel to them, but I will be tuning them to be a little more sensitive for the next ride, which is going to be great for trailriding but will probably work against me around town on the road and will be something I have to make allowances for when cruising to check the surf or shooting up to the shops for bread and milk.
ON THE HORIZON
Between now and the next issue, I will be looking to take off a few bits and pieces and replace them with some aftermarket trick bits, such as an LED tail-light and another sticker kit, as my knee braces made mince meat of the standard ones. I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by this yellow all-rounder and now have a better understanding as to why this is the biggest selling trailbike in Australia.
Hop and the DR-Z have turned something as simple as checking the surf into a fun little outing