QLD | 14,309Kms
2010 Suzuki DR-Z 400SM Review
JUST Bikes 08/02/2012
After a lot of manufacturers jumped on the supermotard bandwagon at the dawn of the new millennium, the category has arguably fallen from favour in the past few years, but Suzuki are still flying the motard flag in their lineup, and brought out a newly-styled version of their dedicated DR-Z 400SM supermotard model in 2010.
Based around Suzuki’s DR-Z 400S dual purpose/enduro model, the DR-Z 400SM first appeared in the Suzuki catalogues back in 2005. The 400S’s frame and engine had already proven themselves as reliable units, so little alteration was required for its application to a street-focused motard machine. The main change on the 400SM from the 400S was in the rolling stock. 17-inch wheels front & rear (as opposed to a 21-inch front/18-inch rear on the DR-Z 400S) and stickier road-spec tyres are the main differences. The SM also runs different suspension, a bigger front disc brake (lifted from the GSX-R), and different gearing to the 400S. The rest of the changes between the two are largely cosmetic.
In the years that followed, the 400SM changed little, so mechanically, there were no significant changes on the 2010-spec DR-Z 400SM over the original model. That meant the same 398cc DOHC liquid-cooled four-stroke single with electric start (no kick starter), supermotard-tuned exhaust and a 5-speed transmission. The DR-Z 400SM is unique in that it’s the only Japanese-made supermotard of 400cc capacity.
Visually, the main change on the 2010 DR-Z 400SM over the preceding 2009 model was in the colours and graphics. The all-black look and “barbed wire” graphic on the 2009 was replaced with a striking black & white look that was plainer and cleaner. The tank, mirrors and headlight surround were black, as were the fork shrouds for the USD Showa forks. Side plastics and mudguards were white, with basic, subtle graphics carrying the Suzuki ‘S’ and DR-Z logo. Blue accents on these graphics picked up on the other standout visual feature on the 2012 DR-Z 400SM; the blue anodized Excel rims. These, more than anything else, gave the 2010 model a real point of difference.
The 400SM’s instrumentation is all-digital, featuring speedometer, odometer and clock. There’s also a programmable tripmeter (distance & time) with timer and stopwatch function. Alongside the instrumentation that nestles in a square box behind the headlight fairing is a vertically-stacked cluster of four warning lights for indicators, neutral, high beam and temperature. The headlight is a 60/55W halogen headlight that offers plenty of illumination, whether on or off road.
Upon its release, the DR-Z 400SM was generally agreed to be a great all-rounder, but more of a street focused machine, as befitting its original purpose. Handling was praised, while the long travel suspension, derived from Suzuki’s RM motocross bikes, soaked up all sorts of bumps and road irregularities with ease. Being a 400, it’s also capable of highway travel, but the thin seat (see next paragraph) and small tank limit the 400SM’s potential as a tourer. For regular short run road use the acceleration and torque also got the thumbs up (although the DR-Z 400S is torquier) for producing quick ‘getaways’ from the lights.
When new, few criticisms were levelled at the 400SM. The thin seat isn’t really suitable for long rides, so the fitting of an aftermarket seat or gel pad appears to be a common addition. Some also suggested the 400SM would have benefited from a sixth gear. At top speed, the engine vibrations were also noticeable, but this was a feature common to all larger capacity singles. With some buyers picking up their 400SM specifically for competition use, modifications in the form of aftermarket carb kits, air filters, exhausts and various tuning mods, as well as braking and sprocket changes, appear to be common. Most of the 400SMs on the market today appear to have had at least some performance modifications made. That said, the factory-spec items are more than suitable for most applications, but for those who want “more” out their 400SM, especially for racing, there are plenty of options available.
Where the 400SM really wins is as a comfortable street machine for taller riders. Six footers and taller who don’t want to spend their time hunched over a sports bike will appreciate the riding position that the 400SM offers. Conversely, that means the 400SM isn’t the best choice for shorter riders. Handling, as you’d expect given the bike’s light weight, wide motocross-style Renthal bars and overall height, is very good. Braking, for a light bike, is quite good, too, with the larger discs able to haul the 400SM up without being too ‘grabby’.
Motards seem to have dropped off the radar of those looking for a new bike, especially first time riders. As the DR-Z 400SM is fully street legal and LAMS certified, it’s suitable for first-timers, and arguably a better bike to learn and develop your riding skills on that some of the other options out there. Of course, given its origins, the 400SM can handle the gravel and dirt trails, too. For an “outside the square” alternative for those in the market for a commuter, urban tourer or tarmac/dirt machine, the 2010 DR-Z 400SM is worth a closer look. Given its originally intended purpose, the 400SM would also make a good fun track day bike, too.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2010 Suzuki DR-Z 400SM
Frame: Thin-wall chromoly steel tubing frame with bolt-on aluminium alloy subframe
Engine: 398cc DOHC 4-valve four stroke single
Bore/Stroke: 90 x 62.6mm
Power/Torque: 29.2kW @ 8500rpm / N/A
Induction: Mikuni BSR36 carburettor
Ignition: Digital CDI
Cooling System: Liquid
Electrical System: 12 volt
Transmission/Drive: 5 speed manual/chain drive
Front Suspension: Showa USD telescopic forks w/compression & rebound adjustment
Rear Suspension: Swingarm with multi-adjustable shock absorber
Front Brake: 310mm fully-floating ventilated discs w/2 piston caliper
Rear Brake: 240mm ventilated disc w/single piston caliper
Front Tyre: 120/70 - 17
Rear Tyre: 140/70 - 17
Weight: 146kg wet
Seat Height: 890mm
Fuel Capacity: 10 ltr
Top Speed: 145 kph [approx]