Eighteen years ago, the original DR-Z400S helped usher in a new wave of motocross-derived technology to the dual-sport realm. Featuring a DOHC cylinder head, liquid-cooling, front and rear disc brakes, MX-style body panels, and an unusual 398cc displacement for its four-valve single, the DR-Z was a high-tech middleweight that was reasonably at home on both street and trail. Fast-forward nearly two decades, and the DR-Z400S continues in Suzuki’s lineup as an affordable and competent tool.
It’s fair to say that leading dual-sport engineering has now bypassed the DR-Z as competitors have added race-bred frames, cartridge-style forks, electronic fuel injection, more sophisticated instrumentation, and weight-saving components, but for casual on- and off-road riders, the Suzuki remains a good value for the money. Some particular bragging rights for the DR-Z400S include magnesium outer engine cases, a quick-change clutch, and adjustable suspension. A standard fender-mounted tool bag, plus an available low-profile seat and cargo rack, further expand utility.
Likes: Liquid-cooling immunizes this workhorse against hard use in hot conditions.
Dislikes: Street-oriented tires, stagnant engineering.
Verdict: High-tech then, good value now.