Lost love: Suzuki DR-Z 400S

Let’s turn the clock back 20 years and a young Dave Willis bought a blue Suzuki DR-Z 400S.

The DR-Z 400 and 400E enduro had been launched in 2000. A year later they were joined by the DR-Z 400 S, a road-legal dual-purpose light trail bike. It had 21in wheels, lights, mirrors, horn, pillion pegs, speedo and a steel, instead of composite, petrol tank. It was also not as highly tuned.

An SM Supermoto version arrived in 2005 with 17in wheels, inverted forks and uprated brakes. Production stopped in 2009.

Dave owned his DR-Z 400S for a couple of years, alongside a Suzuki GSX-R750 and Honda CRM 250, but it had to go when the family came along.

“I had the three bikes in the garage and I just ended up jumping on the DR-Z 400S all the time. It was no hassle and had enough poke to get you where you wanted to go.”

Power came from a 398cc single-cylinder, developing 39bhp and 29 ft-lb of torque, with a five-speed gearbox. Weighing 133kg, it had a claimed top speed of 94mph.

He recalls it cost about £4,000 new when he bought it from Orwell Motorcycles. The DR-Z 400S is still a popular bike, especially with riders looking to explore green lanes, so good used ones still sell for £3,000 to £4,500.

“I regret selling all three of those bikes but the DR-Z more than any of them.

“I could still be chugging along on it now, thumping around the countryside and exploring green lanes,” he says wistfully. “The CRM was not very reliable and the GSX would not have aged well as a sports bike.

“Every now and again we get a DR-Z 400S come in but they’re usually showing their age.

“It was just so simple – you jumped on and started it up with the electric start. I don’t know why they don’t produce more bikes like the DR-Z 400S now.