DR350 vs. DRZ400

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by earling, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Ok, so maybe this one has been done to death .. but it might have some life left in it.
    I'm new here--hi everybody, just getting into my '99 DR350S here in W. Mass. The mud just dried up (well almost) and I'm blown away by all the trails and access out here ...
    I am in a bit of a quandry, maybe some wisdom can be imparted on this forum where people seem to be of the same mindset--ie, sport/adventure non-competetive riding. I love the DR already, but it's showing its flaws pretty quickly as well. All this stuff can be addressed with deep enough pockets (kuba link, pipe, pumper carb... everybody knows that list!) I already have a clark tank, Keintech jets and airbox mod., barkbusters.

    In the opinon of anybody who's ridden both bikes, is it truly worth the trouble of selling and looking for a DRZ, or is the DR actually preferable for one-up off road riding? Highway isn't much of an issue--I've read here that the DRZ is a better highway bike. don't care. More intersted in comfort, ride height, generally pleasant disposition--anything remarkably better about the DRZ?
    I find the DR power perfectly OK--wouldn't mind a little more wheel lifting ability, but it'll still rip pretty hard seems to me. Is the liquid cooling a plus or a minus?
    thank!
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  2. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    Not to be snide, but there's an awful lot of info to be found using the Search feature.

    The DR v. DRZ comparision has been done to death. It's really a personal choice. I'm on my second DR (a '99 SE, like yours). I prefer the air cooling (one less thing to worry about and/or maintain). There are pluses and minuses for both bikes. However, everyone that I've encountered that has a DR, loves it. Those that have sold theirs, miss it. I haven't come across that type of sentiment for the DRZ. Out of all the model years of the DR350S/SE, the one to have is the 1998-99 due to the forks/shock combo. Everything else is pretty much the same. Stick with what you've got, you won't be disappointed.
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  3. Rusty Rocket

    Rusty Rocket Life behind "Bars"

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    Yes. it is a plus and a minus at the same time IMHO. A 99 DR350se is one of the better bikes for the price. E start and a better suspension than 97 and older.
    If you change to a DRZ get a 2002 or newer because they put the better suspension on that year.
    #3
  4. Rusty Rocket

    Rusty Rocket Life behind "Bars"

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    Bronco got his answer up as I typed. Looks like we are of the same opinion :D
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  5. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    yeah, I didn't turn up as much on my first search as my second. Basically uncovered exactly what I wanted, plus what Bronco posted.
    One, the DRZ being heavier/taller is a big factor. Two, people don't seem to get that attached to DRZs (according to one guy). Seems true--most DR posts talk about how much they liked them. Three, only five speeds on the DRZ?! Four, the DRZ's don't have THAT much more power (don't think I need it anyway). Five, more than a few people have mentioned liking air cooling better. Six, they're relaxed and versatile... . . Looking forward to modding it a bit anyway. what the hell.
    Guess I just made up my mind.
    thanks
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  6. Bear on a bicycle

    Bear on a bicycle Been here awhile

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    I haven't ridden a DR, but as a former DRZ owner, I can tell you I loved that bike. I sold it to get something more street worthy (bought a Versys). The DRZ is a great bike & I imagine a lot of DRZ owners, both former & current, love their rides. If I could've worked into the budget, I definatley would've kept the DRZ & bought the Versys.

    As far as the original post goes, the DRZ suspension is better & the power is better. Not sure about the seat height of the DR, but the DRZ is fairly tall. The seat itself is not very comfortable on longer street rides, but in the woods, where you stand more than sit, it probably wouldn't be an issue.

    Is it worth it to trade bikes? Not sure, but if you're already noticing the short comings of your bike & are unhappy with them, maybe it is time for a change...
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  7. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Those Versyses (plural of Versys? Versai?) seem like pretty cool bikes.
    I guess what I really need to do is find somebody with a DRZ and try it out. No other way.

    the problem is, modding the DR is ridiculously expensive. Hard to get straight answers on the results for some of it -- like, is the big header pipe ($150) worth the trouble? Some say yes, some say no. The cheapest can is Supertrapp--$210. Pumper carb with all the trimmings--$380 or so. Yeah, so it adds up, then you have an old bike with a resale almost exactly the same as it was before you put all the aftermarket stuff on it . . .

    Back to square one . . .
    Gotta try a DRZ . . .
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  8. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    It would be most helpful if you were to mention what short commings you've run up against with the DR350, otherwise I'm just guessing:)

    Both the DRZ-S and DR350SE are pretty lame in stock form, but both wake up with basic mods. Both have crappy CV carbs stock and need pumpers fitted to have decent throttle response. Both have undersprung suspension and need at least stiffer fork springs for good handling in hard off road riding.

    In the end they are both excelent bikes. The DRZ is a bit bigger, the newer ones have a little better suspension (the early DRZ-S's actualy have worse suspension than the DR you have). The DR has an extra gear in the trans but the DRZ had a bit more power. The DRZ is taller and heavier.

    For me the DRZ just doesn't have enough extra performance to justify the additional complexity. If I'm going to get something with shim under bucket valves, liqued cooling and all that stuff I want it to really move!

    For your DRZ, I think you'd be amazed at how different it is with knobby tires and a well jetted pumper carb. Don't bother with exhaust, that mostly just makes more noise.

    If you buy a DRZ you'll spend even more making it run in a tollerable fassion. It not only needs a pumper carb, but also needs an exhaust header, additional compression and I think a different cam to really work well (basically turn the street motor back into a dirt motor). So don't compare the cost of a modded DR350 to stock DRZ. I think you'll find that modding the DR350 is actually less expensive than most bikes. Certainly less than the DRZ.

    If it were me and I really needed more perfomance than the DR350 and wanted to retain good street manners I'd skip the DRZ and go straight to a TE610 - once you get the DRZ running properly the cost is similar and the TE still will have quite a lot more power plus that 6th gear:deal


    So, if it were me I'd spring for the pumper carb and fork springs and go ride! You'll have a very good performing bike that's simple, ultra reliable and easy to work on.

    here's me scooting around on a DR350SE at freetown in MA. My DR has stock exhaust, pumper carb, stock suspension/chassis.

    http://www.4shared.com/file/27576981/a1f128e8/freetown_clip.html
    #8
  9. Marvin_ADV

    Marvin_ADV Been here awhile

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    A lot of people love the DRZ just go to Thumpertalk and find out. I love mine! The DR350se is a great bike, esp. the 99 model. I'd say keep it, it will hang just fine on the trials.

    If you are really wanting to upgrade to a DRZ.......Bike pilot says you need to do a lot to the S to make it a "tolerable" bike (the S is a good bike but can be made very nice with an FCR carb) but you could just buy an E (or even a K) model and have all of the upgrades he mentioned right out of the box, esp. since you are more into trails. Not sure if you can plate an E in Mass though?
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  10. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Yep, the E or K model (my fave) would save the work. Same with the 350, the R model also saves the work, but neither are street legal from the factor and all that stuff. if you are going for a dirt bike a CR250R or similar will get you in a whole different relm of performance:evil

    I also know lots of people who love their DRZ's, but none of them are anywhere near stock and most say it would have been cheaper to buy a TE in the end...
    #10
  11. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Bikepilot,
    I like the way you think. KISS (keep it simple stupid)
    Well, my DRs shortcoming so far have been: carb bogs when the bad rear suspension hops . . . therefore: pumper carb plus Kuba link plus maybe Eibach r. spring (I'm about 160 suited up, so I maybe could get by on the stock spring)
    Limited throttle response, hard to get front wheel up with the throttle
    Right now rear preload is maxxed out and it's stiff enough but does have that hop. The front is a bit soft, but otherwise I like the fork action a lot after fiddling a bit.
    I'd love to get the weight down a bit, but that's a long process of just replacing heavy stuff with lighter stuff . .
    The exhaust feels restrictive just looking at it, and it's a big heavy can. Plus, maybe I'm shallow, but I like a little noise, not too much'
    I already have knobbies, low pressure, rim locks f. and r.

    Nice freetown clip, I've ridden mountan bikes there--your bike doesn't sound stock to me, does the pumper carb really do the miracles that are claimed? (not that I'm all that skeptical) (Ps, what's the camera setup?)

    Yeah--I see now I would want an '02 or later DRZ if I got one. Looked at a new '08 DRZ400s and it didn't look anywhere near ready for dirt, kind of flashy actually.
    As for "E" and "K" DRZs, well, yeah, it's Mass, after all, bureacracy central, don't really have the time or the inclination to jump through their hoops without expert advice. If I found one already road-legal, that might be another story,,,
    #11
  12. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Marvin ADV--
    yup, true enough, I could get all crazy and try to road a pure dirt bike--I was talking to the KTM dealer and he says you can even do a two stroke if you want, since it's not up to the inspector to enforce the two-stoke ban for road bikes, which is kind of interesting. But that's another thread, a whole 'nother world of registration unknowns and performance I probably don't need. I'm not a young squirt anymore, I find I just don't care that much about endangering myself, just want to loft the front wheel once in a while and not feel like I'm driving a baby grand in the woods...

    Too bad there's not a big big-swap day somewhere in Magic Land, where you can try all your dream machines
    #12
  13. Marvin_ADV

    Marvin_ADV Been here awhile

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    Earling, I think you will enjoy Thumpertalk, they may have some better insight on setting your DR up too.
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  14. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    The pumper carb will take care of the bogging and throttle response issues. Very easy to snap the front end off the ground in the lower gears with the pumper. I wouldn't call it miracals by any means - more just making it run like it should have from the factory. I'm used to fuel injected sport bikes and motocross bikes so the response of the CV carb was just not acceptable to my tastes. I don't mind it on the road, but in the dirt its really annoying.

    I like quiet exhaust because so many riding areas are getting shut down due to complaints of noise.

    Unless you want the bike shorter, I'm not sure a koubla link is the way to go. I think it increases the leverage ratio over the rear shock and will make things even softer. Rather, you'd get much more bang for your buck having the rear shock revalved. NCRick at maximum-suzuki.com does revalving and people seem really happy with his work. He rides a DR and knows them well.

    The stock shock spring is actually the correct rate for your weight. Winding the preload all the way down will make the kicking much worse. Set the sag somewhere around 100mm, the bike will handle better and the rear suspension will be smoother, but its really the valving that needs attention.

    The engine noise in the video is mostly from the bike the guy with the helmet cam is on. He has an FMF Q. I have no clude what sort of helmet cam setup it is, but he's Jcalis at maximum-suzuki and would tell you all about it I'm sure:)

    Stiffer fork springs will make the bike feel lighter as the front end won't be mushing all over the place so much. You can also just remove a lot of stuff, the rearmost rear fender support can go and then you can mount the plate to the rear fender, the passenger pegs can go, stuff like that will give you quite a few lbs. Aluminum bars also save some weight. I have a pair of renthal's on mine.

    The stock exhaust is sorta heavy, but so are most aftermarket systems. I think the FMF Q (which is one of the better aftermarket options) saves 2-3lbs.

    I have a street legal two stroke motocross bike. It sucks as a dual sport, but is unbeatable off road. Its just way too focused to ever made a good dual sport mount. The DR is so much more civilized its not even funny!

    Thumpertalk is great for DRZ info, but there aren't many DR350 folks there. I find there's more DR350 info here and at maximum-suzuki.

    good luck and have fun:clap
    #14
  15. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Hey Bikepilot,
    that's the kind of info. I've been looking for ...
    Yeah, I couldn't figure out why the Kuba links (basically lowering links) would cure the hop, but that's the claim they make. And I don't really need it lower. I like the revalving idea--sounds a lot more to the point. I've got it set up at about 100mm sag, and I think the rate's about right. Feels about right. The shock's obviously got too much compression damping when it takes a big hit--so revalving would fix that if done right. I'll look into it. (wait, then I can't ride for two weeks???)

    I will probably (when I get around to it) cut a few coils off the fork springs and put some spacers in there to stiffen it up front a bit.

    I've already lost the license plate gear--one of the first things I did was take all the extra crap off, including pass. pegs (though I guess you can flunk inspection if you leave them off).I've got the plate bolted to the fender which technically isn't kosher, but we'll see. It passed last year. I'd like to market some quick disconnect LED blinkers for dual sports--wouldn't it be cool to stop at the trail head and de-street your bike in about 30 seconds?



    As for your street legal MX bike, well, yeah, I hear what you say about the difference-- way back I used to race a CR125 that weighed 180 lbs (I could pick it up!), no suspension in those days but the DR is seriously like trying to wheelie a water buffalo compared to that. I'm getting to like it now, though--and it's still unreal to me the kind of crap they can climb up and over, these 4 strokes with the long legs. IT's a ton of fun--I'm just a little less airborne than in the old days, but you can roll on the power and grin, instead of dancing on the shifter. They grow on you pretty quick. And SOOOO much more PC and less likely to alienate angry rangers and hikers. . .
    #15
  16. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Yeah, all very true. Do note that there are lots of quite, friendly two strokes around too - its not so much the number of strokes as whether the bike is made to be quiet and friendly or win races (for example, there's nothing on two wheels that's more obnoxious in stock form than a four stroke MX bike).

    125's were always my favorite. I had a bunch of YZ125's and KX125. I'll get another when I'm done with school and have a garage I'm sure. There's just nothign quite like the frantic motor and amazingly light chassis. My 250R is good fun to be sure, but its really a bit much (212lbs and 45-50hp).

    If you want something that will retain the civlity of the DR but give you a bit of that CR spunk a KDX200 might be ideal - they are light and quick reving but still very quiet and low maintence. Peak power is a bit better than the DR350 but due to the lighter weight and better chassis they feel a lot faster. I won a harescramble race on a bone stock one in 2000. Its just an amazing trail bike. Not much good on the street, but better than an MX bike to be sure. I love my CR250R too, its just useful for a very specific sort of riding (100% hard charging off road/mx).

    I've heard a few people say the links helped with kicking and I've heard other say it made it worse. Whatever the case, I know I sure don't want to loose any ground clearance - I get hung up enough on the DR as it is.

    Since you mentioned airbone CR's - here's mine in its native habitat
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    Bikepilot--that's some pretty good air, there!!
    Doubt I'll ever get my DR that high (...)
    I actually thought hard about a KDX 220 on C-list but it wasn't streetable, and I started feeling all mellow and four-stroky after riding the DR for a while up some nearby fire roads. I can go both ways--I agree there's really nuthin' like a two stroke weight and power delivery. I've never gotten over it (see my list of bikes!). The problem I find with 2-strokes is that my brain seems to be wired directly to the power band--kind of like a brain kill-switch when it gets on the pipe. I really had to ditch my RZ350 AND my H2 for that exact reason. A bike like the DR seems so much more appropriate in the multi-use trails and woods and my somewhat slower brain--then again, I'm only now becoming aware that 2-strokes can be friendly, as you say. In my day, they had silencers the size of a two-D cell flashlight and (I have the tinnitus to prove it). I guess they can be pretty tractable and quiet now.

    I will probably start looking for a street-legal KDX, just for fun--interested in your experience of getting one licensed and inspected, as a fellow MA registry vet. IF they come with "not for highway use" titles, what do you do then? (it's also just weird to think of actually riding one of those into town for a cup of coffee.... can you DO that?)
    #17
  18. GOT DIRT?

    GOT DIRT? Been here awhile

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    I got rid of my 1994 DR350se last fall. I was in the same situation spend money and mod the DR or buy something else.After a long search I found a 2002 KTM400exc. You can find them plated and now the early ones are going for about $3000 or less you just have to look.I put on my own dual sport kit for about $120.00 in parts. All I have to say all the short comings you listed with the DR are gone when you hop on the KTM.I live in NW CT and ride in western Mass all the time.It is a great bike for that kind of riding.Rode a 72 mile ride today about 25 miles on pavement and the rest dirt,it was a good day.:D Alot of people freak out about the maintence of a KTM,you have to remember that is when you are racing the bike.If you keep the oil changed and adjust the valves a couple times a year you will be fine.
    #18
  19. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Hey earling, I'm new to MA and my bike was already street legal when I moved here. So far as any DMV is concerned its as much a street bike as any other. My CR is actually in Colorado right now waiting for me (I'm headed to denver for the summer). I don't really ride my CR on the road, the plate is more so I can use service roads near off road riding areas to get to the good stuff and so I'm legal for non-closed course enduros. I do know a guy who commutes to work every day on a plated KDX. I think he's got around 16k miles on it now and still hasn't been into the top end. Its not an ideal street bike by any means, but he likes it just fine. Its quiet enough that it is not likely to attract much unwanted attention. You do have to mix the oil and the gas so filling up with fuel on the road will be a bit of a pain.

    I have seen plated dirt bikes in MA, but I suspect they were plated out of state then transfered in. Unless you live in a friendly state, its probably easier to just buy one that's already plated.

    A stock KDX200 doesn't make noticeably more noise than a stock DR and has a very linear power curve. More of a jump than the DR up top, but nothing like a motocross bike. The KDX220 is even more mild as they went with smaller ports, a smaller carb and less compression on that model (the 200 actually makes more power thant he 220). But for street riding I still would much perfer the DR. For off road I'd perfer the KDX. The DR suits me perfectly as its quite good for all street jaunts around boston, getting groceries and the like and I can still slab the 70 miles to freetown, ride fairly hard off road then slab back home:)
    #19
  20. earling

    earling moto-xer turned trailie

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    all good points, bikepilot and Got Dirt . . .
    Tough decisions, I tell you . . :) I'm sure if I tweaked the DR a little I would be very happy with it --heck, I like it a lot already, in all of, what, maybe 1,500 miles. But ... here's the big But. I'm kind of tired of always being on the spending side of the equation. I think I might save the carb/shock/etc money on the DR, and do what Got Dirt did, just look for the right bike to start with, no mods neccessary. (I have an '81 Porsche that sucked a ton of $$ out of me last fall that I'll never see again, and somebody's going to get a fully sorted car for not much . . .for example)
    I'll ride the DR as is for a while, keep shopping . . . Ideally I think a '73 or older BMW for the road, and one of those KTMs for the non-road . . .
    And Got Dirt, if you're ever up this way again, let me know, I'd love to take a gander at what you're riding. (where do you like to ride, around here, by the way?)
    #20