The Suzuki DR-Z400SM is a single cylinder 400cc motard. It was derived from Suzuki’s DR-Z400S which is a dual purpose bike however Suzuki invested effort into their motard to make it appealing to the motard man. They didn’t just take the 400S and make cosmetic changes, instead they gave the SM 17 inch rims with sticky rubber, a motard styled front mud guard, a larger front brake and adjustable inverted Showa forks at the front teamed up with the swingarm derived from the RM250 racer.
This gives Suzuki’s production motard a unique feel and makes it a very appealing bike to ride. Although this is not a purebred motard racer, it still features the characteristics of racing motards as well as the road legal requirements such as lights, indicators and a horn.
Suzuki was one of the first major Japanese motorcycle companies to introduce a motard to their product line and it has opened the door for further interest in the Motard segment. It is an affordable bike that offers practicality, and efficiency. Not only is it easy to ride but it is also compact and light making it very easy to maneuver in and out of traffic. It is an absolute dream to throw around in the congested urban jungle and one often feels sorry for everyone stuck in their tin boxes while the SM blasts past.
The liquid cooled 398cc DOHC single cylinder engine is fed by a single Mikuni carburetor with a compression ratio of 11.3:1 giving it a max power output of 29.2 KW’s or 40HP. This allows for rapid acceleration and a top speed of 145km/h. The power delivery in the 400SM is very well suited to town riding as there is a steady delivery of torque throughout the rev range but thanks to the taller final gear highway commuting is also made easier.
The close ratio 5 speed box is also very easy to operate and gear changes are smooth and slick. This close ratio set up allows for the rider to take advantage of maximum power output almost from pull off thanks to the short first gear. The clutch is also vey easy to use even though it is cable operated.
An amazing characteristic of the 400SM is its smoothness considering this is a large single cylinder motor. The engine idles and revs up with minimal shake which helps to sustain rider comfort and makes low down acceleration much more usable. Something that is hard to find in large capacity single cylinders. This adds to the bikes charm as an everyday commuter. Also because the bike has a carburetor instead of fuel injection and a cable clutch instead of hydraulic, production costs are kept down, making it very affordable when compared to other more sophisticated Motards. But don’t think that this detracts from the experience because the difference is hardly noticed between the average rider.
The styling of the 400SM is unmistakably motard, with renthal tapered aluminum handlebars and black 17 inch wheels with a 140 section rear tyre and shortened front fenders. The shocks also have lots of travel and they are able to soak up heavily rutted and damaged road. The riding position is also very comfortable however the narrow seat starts affecting the rear end after about 30km’s. The digital dash layout features an odometer, speedometer, and twin trip meters with timing clocks. However it would be nice to include a rev counter as well for the more conservative rider.
All these features give the 400SM the ability to split the traffic with ease whilst also blast through tight corners. What would usually be a dreary trip to the office turns into a mixture of adrenalin and excitement. It is very easy to flick through right and left sweeps and speed bumps and curbs are no longer obstacles. Although I feel the 400SM could do with a bit more HP, this motor has been around for a number of years now and thus aftermarket add-ons and plentiful.
All together though the 400SM is a very user friendly bike that offers excitement and everyday practicality, teamed with aggressive motard styling this bike appeals to the commuter who wants to have fun on the way to work whilst avoiding traffic and high fuel bills. It accommodates for the enthusiastic rider while also appealing to the everyday commuter, something that is hard to achieve for an affordable price.
||Suzuki DR-Z 400SM
||Liquid cooled, four stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.
|Bore x Stroke
||90 x 62.6 mm.
|Ignition / Starting
||Digital CDI / electric
||40 hp 29.2 kW @ 8500 rpm
|Transmission / Drive
||5 Speed / chain
||Inverted telescopic, oil-damped, adjustable compression and rebound damping
||Link-type, fully-adjustable spring preload, adjustable compression and rebound damping
||Single 250mm disc 2 piston caliper
||Single 220mm disc 1 piston caliper
|Standing ¼ Mile