Taking engineering and design cues from dedicated off-road machines, the 2013 Suzuki DR-Z 400SM ably represents Suzuki in the growing class of supermoto style motorcycles, which bring the durability, suspension, and riding position of off-road capable motorcycles to fully street-legal machines. If necessary, supermotos are ready to blur the lines between the urban landscape and the great outdoors. Riders looking for a comfortable motorcycle with durability and agility in an urban setting that can keep going when the pavement ends should look no further.
Originally introduced in 2005 and based on the well-regarded on/off-road Suzuki DR platform, the DR-Z 400SM has an upright seating position that provides plenty of room for the rider to maneuver, wide and comfortably-placed motocross-inspired handlebars, and 10.5 inches of ground clearance. Riders will immediately notice how the DR-Z 400SM’s off-road background commands respect in traffic. Situational awareness and forward visibility are excellent and in many cases the rider is able to view traffic from a vantage point higher than most passenger cars, a huge benefit on crowded roadways. Visually, the DR-Z 400SM is pure supermoto, with inverted, large-diameter, nitride-coated front Showa forks, upswept Renthal handlebars, and blue anodized RK Excel aluminum rims. The DR-Z 400SM certainly looks the part of dirt-inspired canyon carver, and under the bodywork, it does not disappoint.
On the pavement, the DR-Z 400SM’s efficient and sturdy single cylinder engine has been designed by Suzuki to deliver plenty of power at low revolutions per minute (rpm), perfect for quick launches from stoplights and reliable, ready power on crowded streets. Stopping is handled by independently-operated front and rear hydraulic disc brakes. With fully-adjustable preload and rebound damping, the DR-Z 400SM’s front and rear suspension can be tuned to deliver surefooted traction in any situation that arises on even the roughest streets. The long, motocross-style seat and rear footpegs provide space for passengers, and optional rear racks can offer space for additional storage.
When it is time to leave the pavement, the DR-Z 400SM’s off-road pedigree also shines. Many of the components of this machine were designed with light weight (and thus easy off-road maneuverability) in mind. The single cylinder uses Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Materials (SCEM), which reduces weight and allows for efficient heat transfer, the forged aluminum piston is ten percent lighter than similar cast pistons, and strong, lightweight magnesium alloys are used in key engine components such as the clutch and camshaft covers. Although dedicated off-road riding might require knobbier tires, the standard 17-inch tires with fully-replaceable tubes give the owner plenty of flexibility when it comes to tire choice. Full plastic bodywork, durable vinyl seat, optional handguards, and just in case, a highly useful tool kit stored in a pouch on the rear fender are all valuable components for this functional machine.
Whether it is a twisty dirt trail, gravel fire road, paved high-speed sweepers, or downtown, riders will find that a supermoto-styled motorcycle does it all well. Suzuki’s DR-Z400SM has been at the front of the class for years, and 2013 is no exception.