Adventure bikes only offer opportunity. It’s up to you to supply the real adventures. This is Lamont Dusseau’s 2005 Suzuki DR-Z400, and it’s a real-world bike of adventure. He purchased it in 2015 for $2400. It was his third DR-Z400 in a succession of bikes that have taken him all over North America. Lamont settled on DR-Z400s because they’re reliable, they’re far more dirt-worthy than mainstream adventure bikes, and they are so affordable that he doesn’t hesitate to tackle big challenges. Lamont is a teacher, and during summer break each year he kisses his wife and disappears into the wild for an extended DR-Z trip.
The most recent of Lamont’s adventures was the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route. RideBDR.com is a non-profit organization that promotes dual-sport adventures by providing routes, track logs and detailed information about terrain and services for various trips. There are about nine BDR trip currently available with four or five others in development. The release of a new BDR trip is an eagerly awaited event in adventure-bike circles. Lamont was one of the first to complete the Nevada BDR last year and is anxious to be the first when the new So Cal route is released next year. Check out the organization’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
When the current DR-Z was recruited it was a stock bike with about 8000 miles. Almost all of the modifications were made with used parts from eBay and Craigslist. Extending the range is absolutely essential for these types of trips. The tank is a used Clarke he found for $100. It has a stated capacity of 3.9 gallons, but he measured it and found it holds 4.15. As some plastic tanks are used they often “balloon” slightly and increase capacity. The rear rack is a used unit from Cycleracks, also found for $100. The fairing is another used item–LaMont is always on the lookout for useful items.
If you know your DR-Z400 dual-sport models, you know that the stock CV carburetor is troublesome. The pure dirt version is no longer made, but it came with a Keihin FCR carb, which is a very important modification. If you purchase the carb from Suzuki, it will cost you a bundle. There’s a site called keihin-fcr.com that specializes in finding used FCR carbs and modifying them for various applications. They sell a full DR-Z conversion kit for about $575. He also installed a set of Hot Cams Stage 1 cams and an FMF Q exhaust system. The fork springs are Race Tech 0.50s. The head was ported by Craig Smith and when it was all done, the Suzuki was surprisingly fast.
After two seasons of hard use, this DR-Z was ready for a complete rebuild. Lamont purchased a Wrench Rabbit kit which includes a crank, piston and almost everything needed to get the job done. While he was in the motor, he installed an ACT wide ratio gearbox. This is an aftermarket kit that changes four of the five gearbox ratios to give the Suzuki a more suitable spread. It’s always been a DR-Z sore spot that the stock transmission is too tightly spaced. The ACT kit spreads everything out and gives the bike a nice overdrive on top.
These photos were taken right after the bike’s return from Utah. It might not be as beautiful or as prestigious as a Multistrada or an Africa Twin, but from a standpoint of pure function, the DR-Z is fresh and capable. It’s already set and waiting for the next big adventure.
The 2019 Suzuki DRZ400 is still available brand new. It’s priced just a little higher than its big brother, the DR650, because it’s a more modern motorcycle and much more capable in the dirt. Still, the DR-Z has gone nearly unchanged for 18 years and is dated compared to the more expensive, hard-core dual-sport bikes from KTM, Husqvarna, Beta and now SWM.
2019 DR-Z400S SPECIFICATIONS
BASE MSRP: $6,749
398cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, single cylinder, DOHC 398cc,
Bore x Stroke: 90.0 mm x 62.6 mm (3.54 in x 2.44 in)
Compression Ratio: 11.3:1
Fuel System: Mikuni BSR36, single carburetor
Lubrication: Semi-dry sump
Clutch: Wet multi-plate
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Chain, RK520KZ0, 112 links
Suspension, Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, adjustable damping force Inverted
Suspension, Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped, adjustable spring preload and damping
Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.0 L (2.6 US gal.)
Wheelbase: 1485 mm (58.5 in.)
Ground Clearance: 300 mm (11.8 in.)
Seat Height: 935 mm (36.8 in.)
Curb Weight:144 kg (317 lb.)
CHECK OUT OUR 2018 DUAL-SPORT BUYER’S GUIDE HERE
BACKCOUNTRY DISCOVERY ROUTES
RideBDR.com is an excellent source of resources for dual-sport and adventure riders. The group is non-profit and relies on donations and sales of documentaries that riders can view to prepare for an upcoming trip. The Utah route mentioned above is documented in a film that can be purchased or rented. It’s a good way to decide if a trip is for you. The trailer is shown below.