The 2011 Suzuki DR-Z400S is a dual purpose, road legal motorcycle. The 2011 DR-Z400S combines exceptional off-road ability with elements like a headlamp, turn indicators, and brake lights that are required in order to be road legal. The 2011 DR-Z is only available in one model (Base) and one color (White). Suzuki began making road legal enduro bikes in 2000 and the DR-Z400S is one example of its evolution. The DR-Z possesses a true off-road pedigree, tackling rough trails and fire roads just as easily as it can weave through traffic and zip down city streets. Creating a good dual purpose bike requires balancing off-road and on-road vehicle characteristics to come up with the right mixture of both. Unlike larger displacement bikes, the DR-Z400S retains all of the elements which make for a good dirt bike. However, the DR-Z’s 398cc engine does make it more of an off-road champ than an open road vehicle. The DR-Z doesn’t really have any head-on competition. Other road legal, dual purpose bikes come with bigger engines and much higher price points, key reasons why the DR-Z is master of its own arena.
The liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine delivers crisp throttle responses and strong torque. While the engine remains remarkably smooth-revving at freeway speeds, the small engine struggles to maintain speed and loudly protests when loaded with gear and a rider. Still, 80 mph is achievable, but 65 mph better suits this bike. The entire bike is robust and durable. Unlike some competing bikes, the DR-Z400S can be dropped on gravel roads with little fear of significant damage. Servicing the bike is a snap, and an abundance of affordable spare parts ensures that riders can take advantage of the bike’s abilities without worrying about paying for exorbitant repair bills. The DR-Z400S is a tad too heavy for serious trail-free off-roading, but it excels on rough country roads and quaint forest trails. Aside from some gouged plastic, the bike should ride away unscathed from any minor mishaps. The DR-Z includes an aluminum skid plate to protect its underside. An easy-to-read instrument cluster and electric starter ensure worry free riding.
The 2011 Suzuki DR-Z400S is taller than most riders would expect. In fact, the seat height on the Z400S is two inches higher than on the 2011 Suzuki DR650. That height gives the Z400S offroad prowess but also hinders some riders when negotiating boulder strewn pathways. At 317 pounds when wet, the bike may be too much to lift should it drop as a result of a stall, induced by an unforeseen trail obstacle. The suspension can struggle to support more rotund riders when offroad, but feels fine on hard pavement. First gear is too tall for any serious climbing. However, the smooth, four-valve single-cylinder provides unbelievably strong torque across its entire power band, which propels the bike up most hills at which a rider might point it.