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This bike is a super easy bike to ride. I took it out on exactly the same trail as my usual old WR250F and was able to ride it with more speed and confidence. I was expecting the Suzuki to be more difficult to ride with the stiffer springs, heavier weight and bigger engine but the opposite was true.
The thing that really set the two bikes apart was the confident handling at the front end of the Suzuki. Whenever it hit a large rock I could find the front deflected to an extent and having to steer the bike back onto the trail. The Yamaha tends to get horribly rattled on the same obstacles. It feels like the wheel gets deflected sideways and it's a violent, slipping over feeling (to be fair to the WR it could be a suspension problem and I plan to work on it).
The heavier weight of the DR-Z gives it a stable feel on the trail and irons out the stiff bumps somewhat. The only time the extra weight was really noticeable was when the bike was airborne and flicked a bit. The suspension was smooth, responsive and predictable.
The engine was very smooth, with plenty of torque. It's also pretty responsive for a 400cc single and I'm keen to see what it's like when worn in. Minimal gear changes were necessary since the sweet spot is huge. What it puts up with before it stalls makes it very learner friendly.
The ergonomics are very comfy for my height. The height of the bike (with stock seat, sag not set) was very comfortable with my 80cm (31.5") inseam. I found my back a little fatigued standing with the stock handlebars, but I did have a tendency to try to get my weight back on this bike. I can't really explain why I was doing that, I can only guess it's because it's geometry feels different to what I'm used to and I'm compensating unnecessarily. The ergonomics of the Suzuki actually seem more suited to my size than the WR250F (2002), which seems like it's for someone a little taller.
A negative is the lack of a 6th gear. For trail riding it doesn't need one, but if you want a bike you can ride on the highway and the trails (which is pretty much the purpose of road legal dirt bike) this would be something that would make you look around rather than get this bike. The looks of this bike are ok, but not stunning. You know it's a dual sport from the looks. The stock graphics are attractive and minimalist. If you buy at the right time of year (pre-Christmas promotions) they throw in a bonus enduro kit by redemption with spark arrestor, Suzuki bash plate, Suzuki radiator guards and Barkbusters 'Ego' hand guards. The Ego model is a low profile small model meant for shorty levers. The stock DR-Z doesn't have shorty levers so I think 'Jet' would have been a better choice so that there is no buzzing against them. The bash plate also makes a hideous rattling noise that turns heads. It was coming from the rear bracket rattling against the cross-member it rests on and I can't do it up any firmer or adjust it. So I solved the problem with a piece of foam beer can cozy.
65 kg (143 lb)
39 year old female
Moderate fitness level
Intermediate level trail rider
The bike set up:
It has an SDG tall seat and Moose Hybrid footpegs with rear offset as the only aftermarket changes.
The exhaust and jetting are unchanged and the road restrictor remains installed in the muffler.