The DRZ Chronicles

The Beginner's guide to the Suzuki DRZ-400




The DRZ comes with 14/47 (front/rear sprocket) gearing on the dirt only DRZ-400E, with 15/44 on the dual sport DRZ-400S, and with 15/41 on the supermoto DRZ-400SM.  Gear ratios are extremely important on this bike and essential to adapting the machine to your intended use.

15/44 seems to be the best compromise for dual sport riding if your emphasis is on street riding. This gearing allows for freeway cruising at 70mph; however it is clear that the engine is working at this point.  First gear works ok on the trail, but in the tight stuff you will end up working the clutch.  Top speed is 105mph indicated, provided you have the power to pull it.

15/41 gearing on a 400E/400S (21” front/ 18” rear) allows the engine to cruise at 80 mph at ease. Unless you have made performance modifications, you will likely be unable to reach redline in fifth gear with this setup.  Slow speed offroad riding will also require significant clutch abuse. Top speed is 115mph indicated, but you will need some serious engine mods and a steep downhill to obtain it.

15/47 and 14/44 seem to be the best compromise for dual sport riding with an emphasis on dirt.  They allow comfortable cruising up to 65-70mph, but still have a low enough first gear to tackle most offroad challenges.  Top speed is approx 102 mph indicated.

14/47 works great for offroad, and allows for easy power wheelies.This ratio gives the bike a suitably low first gear for tight technical riding, but once you venture onto pavement, you quickly run out of gears. If you plan on highway or freeway use, you will soon tire of the high revs needed to maintain 70mph.  Comfortable cruising is found around 55-60mph, despite an easily obtained top speed of 95mph indicated.

Lower gear ratios such as 13/47, 14/50 and so on, will provide the perfect offroad spread for tight woods riding, yet will sacrifice streetability to the point where the bike will be only be useful in town.

The fact of the matter is the DRZ desperately needs a 6th gear or wider internal ratios.  It would greatly improve flexibility without having to swap sprockets to change gear ratios.  Suzuki needs to take a look at the ratios used in a KTM 450/530 EXC, which allow for low speed crawling and comfortable cruising at 75mph.  This was one of the factors that contributed to my defection to the pumpkin camp .


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