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DR-Z 250 Aftermarket

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Greetings DR-Z 250 Owners:

I have put some time into thinking about the DR-Z 250 aftermarket conundrum. Doing this has led me to a theory about why the bike is so thoroughly ignored, ... and a possible solution to the problem.

First let me state that I own a 2003 DR-Z 250 and so far I like it a lot. It works really well for me, for the tight woods riding I like to do. It's got a good combination of suspension, frame, power, e-start, everything I wanted in a trail bike.

Having said that, ... I think the reason for the DR-Z 250s obscure status lies entirely with Suzuki. Specifically, the company has intentionally maintained near radio silence on DR-Z 250 because it is a "parts bike" in a niche category. Suzuki can sell a bunch of them with little investment, but only up to a certain point. It does't WANT the DR-Z to get a life of its own, because it doesn't want to support a dedicated supply chain for it. [i've shortened my argument from the more lengthy rant below.]

Thus I don't think we have much hope that Suzuki will suddenly start promoting the bike, and sales will skyrocket. It ain't gonna happen. However, there IS something we can do as consumers that can make a difference in the aftermarket.

Namely, we can pool together and pick a couple of national aftermarket companies to "dun" with requests for the stuff. If most of the DR-Z owners on ThumperTalk started calling [iNSERT VENDOR HERE] with requests, we might be perceived as representing enough demand to justify developing and marketing the products (skid plates, brake disc guards, specialty stuff).

Our demand is small when it is spread out, but if we intentionally concentrated that demand on a couple of companies, it would be big enough to get their attention. (Of course we'd also need to buy their stuff afterward to justify their continued support for the product.)

The big question is this: Are there enough DR-Z owners on TT -- or within our reach -- who are willing to cooperate to make a difference? The steps as I see them would be:

1) Deciding which vendors to "dun"

2) Getting as many DR-Z owners as possible to call these vendors every time they need a DR-Z part the the company might offer

Who is willing to give it a shot?

Regards,

MTB

--------------------------------

THE LENGTHY ANALYSIS

RADIO SILENCE

Suzuki never advertises this bike. When you see a Suzuki "family" ad, nobody is riding the 250, but Mom has a DR-Z 400. The DR-Z 250 is not a racebike, so it doesn't get racing-related promotions. The magazines have mostly ignored it, partly because there was no advertising revenue forcing them to pay attention to it, and partly because Suzuki didn't seem to be pushing the magazines to test it. Even Suzuki dealers have NOT been encouraged to sell it. I've called dealers who had never heard of the bike.

Why would Suzuki ignore this bike? Given the number of XR250s and DR-350s that have been sold over the years, I can't believe the reason is "market too small." But I have come up with one damning reason: it's a "parts bike."

Suzuki doesn't want this bike to gain a life of its own, because that would necessitate maintaining a supply chain for a bike assembled largely from last-generation "leftover" parts whose demand will otherwise diminish over time. For example:

- The subframe behind the left side panel has a welded tab on it with three threaded holes. Utterly useless on this bike.

- The frame piece where the rear brake caliper is bolted on has a threaded hole with a recessed nut. Makes you go "hmmm, ..."

- Also the front brake perch has a threaded mirror mount in it, and the rear brake lever has a threaded hole in it, probably for a brake-light switch actuator. It has a switched ignition, the switch is wired so the tail light goes on with the key. These features are nice for those who plan to dual sport-ize the bike, but I strongly doubt Suzuki would plan it that way so nicely and then neglect to provide A) a street-legal version or :) a dual-sport kit.

- The exhaust canister and some other parts seem to be off the DR-Z 400, which makes sense, and is fortunate for those who want an aftermarket exhaust tip.

- Then there's the carburetor: the 49-state TM 28. Why would Suzuki intentionally pick that carb for a US bike? I'd bet a dollar that there's an Asian market street mini or something with a TM-28 on it, and Suzuki got a great deal by ordering a huge supply of them, ... or the other bike didn't sell and they had five cargo containers full of otherwise useless carburetors.

- Looking at where and how things are mounted, ... I hate to admit it, but there are many examples of weirdness on this bike.

* * *

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I think that is a great idea. It will be interesting to see the response.

Some of the things you noted with regard to the "parts bin" thinking are, actually, explainable. The manual for the DR-Z250 shows that it is a street legal bike in Australia. Thus, the aspects of the bike which seem a little strange, like the mirror mount points, can be understood. This does not at all detract from your basic idea of having customers try to prompt aftermarket suppliers into action.

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I have managed to fit a few aftermarket parts on this bike and love it as it is, although I am planning on selling it for a serious enduro racer (like a 450 EXC, a WR 450F or a 450 CRX).

As dr_drz states, the bike is used in Australia as a street legal bike and seems to be very popular among those who live on the ridge of civilization.

Imagine having to ride 10 miles of dirt trail and then 10 miles of road to get to work. I would leave for work with a smile every day :)

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What is available fo these things? Does anybody make just the basics like Frame gaurds etc...? I assumed there were some parts available for these things...

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What is available fo these things? Does anybody make just the basics like Frame gaurds etc...? I assumed there were some parts available for these things...

nope not that i no of. But i have made some of my pirsnol ones out of alumanium and steel but they nead to make some real peaces.

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Your analysis is certainly accurate I think. FYI, I've been harassing Dennis Kirk and the likes since I bought my 01 'LilZ.

Frankly, I don't see any of the after market guys being too concerned with the sensible DRZ owners. They are making tons of cash off the hi-tech four strokes and that is the direction of the industry. We'll be forced to figure out how to make RM or RMZ parts to work. After a new pipe, re-jetting and air-box changes, I really don't give a sh@# if I make more mods to the engine. The one fly in the ointment is the rear shock...I wish I could improve the darn thing without spending a fortune.

All in all the bike works well and I spend a hell of a lot less time fooling with the machine than the boys on the hi-tech hot rods.

:)

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OK, moving to tactics, ... we need to select aftermarket vendors and methods for "dunning" them.

First, selecting vendors, ... picking someone like Dennis Kirk or Competition Accessories will do us very little good. They don't manufacture parts; they retail them. We need to focus on companies that make parts, and preferably those that both make and sell them on a retail basis. Otherwise our noise won't be heard by the people in a position to develop products.

Who should we pick? Who is making parts for us now? I'm thinking we should pick one or two specialty shops that fabricate and sell aluminum bits for thumpers, such as skid plates, frame guards, disc guards and exhaust tips. Examples might be "4StrokesOnly" and "ProMoto Billet." Other suggestions?

Second perhaps we should focus on a company that makes plastic parts, like body panels and graphics. The problem here is I don't think one company makes the range of soft parts we might want, and I'm not aware of any that both manufacture and retail. If we really want aftermarket graphics for this bike, then we probably will have to contact a custom shop directly. Personally I don't care about graphics, so this won't be my first priority.

Third it might make sense to specifically include Parts Unlimited or Tucker Rocky in our "dunning" campaign. No, they don't sell retail. But they are in a good position to prod manufacturers, and they need to hear from us.

Next, the method:

I am not suggesting that we actually "harass" anybody. Instead what I'm suggesting is that every time we need a part of any kind for this bike, we first call our two or three "preferred vendors" -- even if we know neither of those vendors sells that part. The point is to get as many legitimate inquiries to our chosen vendors as possible.

Also it might be effective for us to initiate a calling campaign where each of us agrees to make one phone call a month to a given vendor asking about availability on a specific product that we know does not exist -- say, for example, a slip-on exhaust canister from FMF, sprockets from Sidewinder, a jet kit from James Dean, or a knurled-end air/fuel mixture screw from Zip Ty Racing.

Finally, the most important question, it seems to me, is how we can get the word out to other DR-Z owners. TT is one venue, but are there others? Maybe someone needs to form a DR-Z 250 owners group if it doesn't already exist. That might help us achieve the critical mass we need to get aftermarket vendors off the couch.

Comments? Suggestions?

Thanks,

MTB

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How about starting with what people want to change on their bikes? That would provide a prioritization scheme for manufacturers. For instance, here's what I would have liked:

1) Race Tech Gold Valve Emulators for the forks. Race Tech Gold Valve for the shock. Any supplier of Fork and Shock springs. With these components you could vastly improve the suspension.

2) FMF "Q" muffler and header pipe. I know that Yosh makes a complete system, but it is fairly expensive and somewhat loud.

So, I would recommend targeting Race Tech and FMF.

Here are some other possibilities:

Wiseco for higher performance piston.

Hot cams for higher performance cams.

Powroll for an overbore kit.

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