DRZ suspension/handling



I am currently riding a KDX, but seriously considering a DRZ, A question to you who ride this bike in the woods... how is the suspension and handling in tight woods with roots and rocks? I am 6' 1" and about 225 w/riding gear. The last thing I want is a heavy feeling, slow turning machine in the woods. Handling and suspension is more important to me than horsepower. Any and all opinions are appreciated.



dirt bike dave

Sponsoring Member
May 3, 2000
My buddy has one that I've ridden many times in the woods. I am 6'0" and 190. The DRZ is a fun bike that handles very well for its weight; it is certainly woods worthy. His has Dunlop 756's and those are very good tires for where we ride.

Suspension is plush on rocks and roots and will probably be too soft for you. When hammering hard the suspension acts a little 'busy' and would certainly benefit from a revalve, but for a stock trail bike it isn't too bad if you like plush. The bike tracks straight and keeps its composure even when you are pushing it.

For its actual weight, the bike feels light and well balanced, and IMO Suzuki did an excellent job with the frame geometry and ergonomics. If you are really pushing hard you will notice the weight under braking (it will not stop like a CR) and when you need to change direction really quick.

Stock, its a pretty easy bike to ride quickly, but like any bike it will benefit from some fine tuning and a steering damper.


May 3, 2001
jump over to www.thumpertalk.com and ask DRbillZ about his settings I think he is about your size.

My understanding is that adding 15-20 cc of fork oil really helps the forks.

I weigh in around 180-185 with gear and run my forks 3 clicks out with stock rebound settings and 5 clicks out on the shock with stock rebound.

My 01 kicker getts through the woods real well, just ask anybody that follows me.



May 20, 2000
i had a 96 kdx 200,but after selling it i bought a 2001 drz 400. the kdx is lighter for sure and will turn sharper easier than the drz, but with the "e" button and that great fourstroke motor i will give up a little super sharp handling for real darn good overall handling. i hope this helps.



Jul 29, 2001
DRZ 400E

Hay betoney,

You Need new springs!

The DRZ is a good bike but wonders around at high speed on dirt roads / two track trail and has very stiff high speed compression but too soft low speed compression for most people around your weight. I have revalved and re-sprung MANY of these bikes for guy who ride Michigan trail.

On test rides of stock DRZ's on fast sections I found the bike to be twitchy and have head shake. This was not a problem in the tight woods but the rest of the suspension was.

I will not plug myself here, so send me your number and we can talk.


Jul 29, 2001
All the info that follows is just IMO:

All the people I have seen or know who ride a DRZ400E fit into the weight range of 170 to 245. (I’m sure there are hundreds of exceptions out there, I just don’t know any.) Most are not good jumpers and do not like to jump. Most ride with their butts on the seat. The stock springs only work well for the lower to mid section of this range. Again I believe most tuners will agree with this statement.

I never say my suspension fixes are based on a specific OEM design problem because invariably you will find those who like the stock suspension. Also, ALL stock suspension is junk for serious, hard core people willing to skip a mortgage payment or two, or three to find perfection. If it was perfect, pro would be using stock and suspension companies like us would be out of business. Stock suspension is designed & engineered with economics in mind first and foremost, with engineering tailored so that the end justifies the means. The best analogy I can use is a new Chevy Corvette. It is a good car for 50,000.00, but if you intend to road racing it and you give me $25,000 to $30,000 more, I can turn it into a great car – again, as long as you truly desire the performance. Engineers like you and I are always stifled by economics.

My fixes are always based on what the customer wants. I always focus on that aspect of the business. If they are not satisfied by the stock suspension, I know I can make it better for their specific application relative to what they want. I try to avoid what some people have called the Pro Circuit style – develop a good suspension and make peoples conform their riding style fit that suspension. Kawasaki also used this philosophy in the past. I remember seeing an interview with Mike Larocco when he first left Kawasaki and he talked about their tuners trying to get him and Mike Keidrowski to use what Jeff Ward used.

Basically what I’m trying to say is – If you are trying to get me to point out any fundamental flaws with the DRZ400 setup, that would be wrong. I have seen many bikes that I would call very harsh in the mid stroke with a lot of stickshon and when I corrected this problem, the rider was not happy. I have seen riders that weight 230 pounds in street clothes riding bike that in my opinion had spring rated for 160 riders who only wanted a revalve but were not willing to spend the 60 bucks for a set of fork springs. Can I revalve it? Yes. Did they like it? Yes. Was it as good as it could be? Clearly – NO.

Please give me the height, weight, riding style (rider sits on this butt a lot or stands as he should), rider skill level, type of terrain he like to ride and the intent of his riding (to have fun or to win) and then I can give you what is wrong with the stock units for that specific person.

It is also – IMO – that everyone should have their suspension revalved a minimum of twice if they send their suspension to a new company that they have not used in the past. I know that most suspension shops don’t want to hear that, but if it were possible to hit perfection on the first try, all the pro would not have to do so much testing. Even the guru of our time Rob Henricksen (FMF, now RG3) needs more than one try to get that 199 kid’s bike perfect.

Good or bad is all relative to what you desire.
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