There’s a new DR300 coming, and it’s kinda-sorta designed by Suzuki … but it’s not the dual sport bike that Suzuki fans have been hoping for. It’s made by Haojue, from an older Suzuki design.
Suzuki’s line of DR dual sport motorcycles has to have some of the most faithful fans in the world. The DR350? A cult classic, an all-rounder that has plodded its way through club racing, backroad hoonery, round-the-world travel, and even Dakar. The DR650? The last of the great Japanese thumpers, flogged viciously in mild stock form, or with wild mods that turn it into a stump-pulling torque monster. Then there’s the DR-Z400, maybe the most popular duallie in the world right now, that desperately needs a wide-range six speed gearbox and EFI.
The DR350 has been discontinued since 1999, the DR650 has not seen anything but insignificant updates since its 1996 debut, and neither has the DR-Z400 since its introduction in 2000. So will the DR300 be the long-awaited next-generation duallie?
Sadly, no. Although the DR300 is a Suzuki design at it’s core, it will be built by Chinese manufacturer Haojue, and it’s a naked bike not a dual sport.
Haojue is an unfamiliar name to most motorcyclists in North America and Europe, but it’s a major player in the Chinese market. Haojue’s own website claims its top of production and sales in China, but who knows how far you can trust that? What’s for sure is, Haojue has a deal with Suzuki, and that means it’s building bikes with solid Japanese design.
The DR300 is based on Suzuki’s GW250, with the liquid-cooled parallel twin engine capacity increased to 300 cc. That’s supposed to be good for 28ish horsepower. It’s supposed to weigh 390 poinds, and comes with KYB front suspension and Bosch dual-channel ABS.
Those numbers are all better than the old GW250 model, but are they good enough to remain relevant in the now super-competitive small-capacity market? Errrr, maybe not, as Kawasaki’s Z400 and the Yamaha MT-03 both look better on the spec sheet, and in the flesh.
So, we’ll see what happens with this bike. It would be more exciting than a lot of the other Chinese bikes on the market, but there’s considerable gossip that this machine will also be sold under the Suzuki brand in western markets. Maybe, but the pricing would have to be pretty good to attract customers away from other more-exciting Japanese-built machines.