I learned that a Suzuki Drz400sm isn't in my near future. Not because it was really tall (35"+!) but I didn't like the way it rode. I'm still very much a sporty girl and love the handling, feedback and stability that modern sportbikes offer. If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for twisties and don't care much about straight lines either. This bike was definitely a demon in the twisties, but in a different way.
I only had the chance to ride it for one afternoon, down to Alice's Restaurant from San Francisco. We took a very simple ride route, a little slab to get to the twisties!:
- 280 South --> 92 West
- 35 South (twisties begin)
- 84 West
- Quick stop at Stage Road in San Gregorio, then South on Stage Road
- Left on Pescadero Road to 84 East back to Alices
Although short but sweet, it was heavenly. We left around 12, so it was too late of a start to head further south towards Boulder Creek as planned. Oh well, that's what Christmas vacation will be for! So my friend generously let me borrow his DRZ 400 SM and my husband rode another friend's KTM RC8 (we have awesome friends!!), and my girlfriend joined us on her DR650.
I definitely wouldn't have ridden a heavier bike of the same height. Since it was skinny and lightweight, I felt fairly confident that I could handle it. But to be completely honest, I probably would've said no if I took a minute to think about what I was going to ride.
I'm glad I didn't think about it too much and just rode my brains out. I also didn't wear my big girl boots which didn't make it much easier but I guess I like a challenge.
2005 Suzuki DRZ 400 SM
Here are some specs for the one I rode:
- Dry Weight: 295lbs
- Wheelbase: 57in
- Seat Height: 35in; with a Gel Seat for a 1" shorter seat height
- Ground Clearance: 10in
- Unlowered suspension
- Shinko Trailmaster Tires; these tires are taller, so they counteracted the gel seat
- Click here for a full list of specs
If there's one thing I love about riding different bikes, it's that I usually learn something new. On this bike, I had to relearn how to make my lines. I was having trouble through corners and my friend reminded me that I can't ride it like a sport bike because it isn't one. It's a supermoto! After she gave me a couple tips, it was a lot easier to stay smooth through the corners and increase my entry and exit speeds.
I quickly learned that in the twisties, I still love the way street bikes perform and am not sure if a smaller supermoto is in my future. I definitely love how mid weight supermotos like KTM's 690 SMR and 690 Duke feel and would love to have one someday.
I'm a bit on the fence about this bike, I mean besides the fact that it's annoyingly tall. I loved the riding position and how far I could see up ahead. You're almost the same height as SUVs so it's really easy to see down the road. Of course, the riding position was really comfortable. I did have to jump on the highway to get down to Alice's but doing 75mph was easy.
When you ride something that's barely tall enough to throw one leg over, curbs suddenly become your best friend. As soon as I'd see one at a stoplight or freeway offramp, it was always convenient to pull up next to one and rest my wayward foot. My right leg is typically rather useless because I can only get my toes down, but on this one it was *completely* useless! I also avoided dirt and uneven pavement and always got off the bike to park it. Luckily I was able to balance it just perfectly to hop right and get my right foot down to kick the sidestand down with my left foot. Whew!
It's just too bad I didn't have time to throw a leg over my friend's RC8!
At the end of the day, I feel like I accomplished a lot and rode something I never expected to be able to ride. If someone told me that someday I'd be able to throw a leg over a bike with almost 35" seat height I would've told them they were nuts.
I guess the moral of the story is, don't think about it, just do it. (Of course, after you've perfected your braking and balancing techniques :D)