As no motor driven vehicle is without flaws, in addition to the armor section here are several issues that I would recommend taking into consideration before hitting the trail...
Much has been written regarding the Automatic Cam Chain Tensioner (ACCT) on the DRZ. The early ACCT’s were prone to failure as their spring would fail and cause the chain to slack resulting in engine damage. In 2003, Suzuki updated the ACCT to utilize a ratcheting mechanism, which prevents the tensioner from retracting in the event of spring failure. Several websites recommend switching to a Manual Cam Chain Tensioner (MCCT) however those that I have installed have a tendency to leak oil through the threads and require regular adjustment which is just another thing to adjust. Also if you mess up on the install you can cause damage to the engine, which according to the instructions is your fault and your expense.
If you have a pre-2003 DRZ, your best bet is to upgrade to the 2003-on ACCT (part# 12830-29F10 and gasket 12837-24A10). It is maintenance free, doesn’t leak, and has been tested in excess of 30K miles by numerous riders.
For whatever reason, those geniuses at Suzuki decided to leave a hooked end on the inside of the shift lever. Bad news: when you crash it forces its way into the case. Good news: the fix is easy, simply remove the shift lever and file down the rough hook on the inside of the lever. Or if you have big feet, you can purchase a extended shift lever like those from MSR which have a metal tip and are an additional inch longer.
Left to its own devices, the front (countershaft) sprocket will eventually bend the teeth on the retaining washer and work its way loose. Fortunately, this is also a fairly inexpensive fix. First use a punch or trusty screwdriver and hammer to flatten the washer. Then put the transmission in Neutral and have a friend stand on the brake pedal, and utilizing a 32mm socket and impact gun or a decent breaker bar, loosen and remove the nut, washer and sprocket. Clean the sprocket and splines (the notched rod coming out of the engine) with contact cleaner. Then apply a few drops of red locktite to the sprocket/splines and reinstall, put the washer back on, and put a drop or two on the threads and reinstall the nut. Torque the nut to 80ft/lbs. Once you do this fix you will need a two or three jaw gear puller to remove the sprocket the next time. I purchased a two jaw puller from Autozone for $10, but later upgraded to a 3-jaw puller set (with four pullers!) at Harbor Freight for $16.
If you ride a lot of aggressive offroad riding you may notice that your engine cuts out occasionally when going over whoops or other rough terrain. The usual cause of this is the side stand kill switch, which is located directly above where the side stand spring hooks to the frame. Remove this black switch and follow the wires up towards the frame. Cut the wires prior to where they meet the connector, strip the end slightly and use a posilock, solder or a crimp connector to connect the two wires. Note your bike will not start if you fail to connect the wires.
The Mikuni equipped DRZ’s utilize a vacuum petcock to provide fuel delivery. When you remove the tank keep in mind that there is a vacuum line that needs to be hooked up to provide suction to the petcock (get your mind out of the gutter). Hook the line in the picture to the nipple on the petcock. If swapping carburetors realize that you will need a different petcock or run the stock petcock in the “prime” position for the bike to operate.
If you are really ambitious these items can be “fixed”, however theydo require more work and mechanical skill than the previous fixes. Watch the "How to" section of the forum for upcoming articles or contribute your own.
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