Suzuki DRZ400 vs Honda XR400

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by bill, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Looking at buying one of these bikes for dual sport use
    Basically looking for something with enough highway speed for touring but light and durable enough for offroad.
    I took a couple of bikes for test rides in Phnom Penh recently

    Suzuki electrics seem better setup for highway use ie, battery, elect start, more powerful headlight.
    Also it was smoother at low rpm around town
    Late models DRZ400's are around 20% cheaper than XR400's in Phnom Penh
    The seat is too narrow for long trips. It is geared very low and developes it power at relatively high rpm, which make me think it would be heavy on the gasoline for long trips

    HONDA XR400
    Appears to be bullet proof. Not much on the bike to go wrong.
    Plenty of low down torque.
    I suspect its slightly more economical on gasoline than the Suzuki.
    The seat provides acceptable comfort for long trips.

    Relatively expensive, $3700 to $4500 for 1997 to 2000 model respectively
    No elect start or battery, headlight runs off Stator/capacitor so I expect its challenging for night riding. (Was told that a 50W halogen headlight would work on this bike ??)
    Bit lumpy to ride around town.

    Conclusion: Suzy seems a sensible choice but for some reason I like the grunty no nonense XR400. If the 50W halogen headlight option worked OK, I would probably go for the XR400

    Would be interested to hear other peoples comments on pros and cons of each.
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  3. pee

    pee Ol'Timer

    Hi Bill,

    I can't tell you much about these two bikes. I can just contribute to build up a "price statistic" portfolio.
    In Bangkok I have spotted Honda XR 400:
    -2005 (electric start only) very good condition: $7300 (add another $1500 for a Thai rego)
    -1997 very poor condition $2500 (+$1500 for the papers)
    -1997 slightly better condition $3000 (+$1500 for the papers).
    I have also heard from reliable source that some Phnom Penh dealers are experts in making bikes look much better than they really are (euphemism). But you are probably aware of that.
    I am also interested to know if the 50W halogen headlight option would work...
    Good luck anyway
  4. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the Bangkok prices. I see the paperwork adds quite a bit to the price.
    In Phnom Penh the governmnet has cracked down on import tax so all the dealers are including tax in the price now.
    You're right about the dealers making the bikes look good.As I understand it, the bikes are sourced from Japan, then given a "make-over" here in Phnom Penh (costs ~$100) and come out looking like new.
    However close examination reveals telltale signs of wear like stone chips in the fork stanchions and frame, perhaps the odd butchered screwhead that couldnt be replaced cheaply etc.
    Miracuously they often only have ~5000km on the clock despite being a 10 year old bike!!
    However, I bought a 1995 XR250 3 years ago and it hasnt missed a beat after doing 50,000km on it myself.
    At this stage I'm waiting for next months shipment from Japan to see if there's anything decent to choose from.
    Hope to get more feedback on this forum in the meantime
    Will let you know if I find out anything re the local 50W halogen headlight option.
    I believe there is a street legal electics kit available from Baja Designs in the States for ~$400. Google up Baja Designs for details.
  5. nickpedleynz

    nickpedleynz Active Member

    i have owned both bikes in New zealand. The XR is a far more serious off road choice, the xr is lighter with firmer offroad suspenion and more power. the suzuki is softer in both power and suspension and more comftable long distance. one day rode the dr 500km combination of on and offroad starting at 5am finish at 4pm, would not like do this on xr but would be first choice up to 200km per day offroad. if you have any other questions email me. Im at Pai today and going offroad tomorrow so may not check email straight away.
  6. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the feedback Nick
    I do more point to point riding than offroad but like to have the option for offroad, especially in Cambodia.
    Going by your experiences it sounds like the DRZ is more suitable for my needs.
    The DRZ's are very popular here in Cambodia. I suspect part of the reason for this is they are easily available to the importers and the price is right.

    Funny enough, I thought the XR would be more suitable for long trips because of the more comfortable seat and bigger fuel tank.
    Regarding the hard XR suspension, couldnt that be adjusted ?

    However its hard to make a proper assessment on a quick 1hr test ride.

    Did you do any night riding with the XR400
    A concern of mine is that maybe the headlight is weak as the XR has no battery, hence the headlight runs of the stator.
  7. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    I'll echo nicks comments. If you're riding tight singletrack off-road and going at a good clip the XR is the choice. Its lighter wieght and better suspension place it head and shoulder above the DR in this respect. However if your off road riding is mainly Cambodian dirt roads filled with pot holes that are connecting your pavement sections i think the DR is a smoother more comfortable perch.

    I would not want to night ride with either bikes headlight. You should be able to find some Honda Baja style twin lamps to bolt on that should assist in that regard.

    Regarding softening the suspension on the Honda...yes you can. It has dampening adjustments that you could make it softer. However the ride is not as plush as the DR even with the dampening backed off. the DR suspension is valved for a 70% street 30% dirt application where the XR is more like 40% street and 60% dirt. Their valving is aimed at different applications.

    If you're looking for a good forum to read up on the two bikes check out they have sections devoted to each marque where you can get a wealth of info and feedback from owners of both brands and discuss lighting options as well.

    Good luck.
  8. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thanks for your comments and the thumpertalk link
    Loads of info on that site but still hope to hear from users of this forum for local info on these bikes.
    Because I will be doing some long trips, Cambodia to Thailand, I got a price on a Corbin seat. $299 plus $160 for Fedex shipping US to
    Cambodia comes to $460 for a seat!!
    Hmmm, might have to reconsider that option
  9. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Yikes $460 for a seat. I would be spending my time sourcing different foam densities here in Cambodia/Thailand. you know seats are under $10 here.

    The problem with the off road bike seats is that they are built slim. This aids in off road manueverablity but sacrifices long distance comfort. Especially if you're a fat arse. Basically yuor ass has no support as it lovingly drapes over the sides of the seat unsupported like a side of beef hanging over the counter in the butcher shop.

    A method used for rigging dirt bike seats for long highway stints is cheap and easy, using a couple small water bottles and a piece of heavy fabric. Your heavy fabic is laid across the seat width-wise, where the seat ends (about 6-7 1/2 inches) you stitch an opening for the water bottle to be slipped into (like a rolled fabric tool holder where eacxh tool has its own sleeve. Instead of tools having sleeves the water bottles are the two tools). One water bottle on each side of the seat, laid parrallel to the seat provides support for your fat ass. Instant freeway cruising comfort. the density of the bottles can be adjusted with filling the bottles with varying amounts of water. Two simple straps fashioned hold the water bottles in and two straps looped around the seat juncture and rear fender support hold it in place.

    When you get to where the pavement ends and the dirt fun begins simply remove the straps, throw away the water bottles and the fabric folds up into the size of a cigarette box. Now you've got your slim dirt worthy seat for the technical dirt stuff. Plus you saved $450[:D]. Mine did not have mounting straps. I just sat on the bugger to hold it in place. Someone here in Thailand/Cambodia coud turn one out after 5 minutes on her sewing machine for a couple of bucks.

    I used this method for long freeway stints on dirt bikes and works a charm.

    Good luck.
  10. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Yes, considering the price, I think I would investigate local options for seat mods
    Interesting snippet from Corbin website

    ""As you're seated, the bones in your posterior that take most of your body weight are roughly seven inches apart. Strangely enough, this is true for most adults (I'm not making this up!) Your stock seat at its widest point is 6.5". This actually makes the foam of the stock seat crush in and apply pressure to the center of your body. The Corbin model is a full 9.5" and is built with a denser, sculpted foam that supports your body weight over a greater area and equalizes pressure. If you consider actual seating surface, the Corbin model gives you almost 300% more body contact! Long story short, greater riding comfort!""

    Might be an option to download some pictures of aftermarket seats and get a stock seat modified here in Phnom Penh
    I guess widening the seat base would be the biggest challenge, plus sourcing additional high quality foam.
    Corbin leaves a narrow section at the front of the seat for offroad, then one moves back to the wider section for highway use.
    Theres a lot DRZ'z getting around Cambodia, could be a good market for them??
  11. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    In the states I rode to Corbins place and had his shop custom make one for my ass. I'd sit on the bike with the new seat base and tell them where and what to cut. Since I am short I actually ended up having them move the seat pocket forward about 3 inches than their stock version. Worked a charm.

    Yes, if comfort is your concern you could have a Cambodian seat guy make one up for you. Since its something different for him to do I would want to be there so you could get the seat how you like it with trial fittings, having him trim and shim the seat with foam and knife until its where you want it. Then he just covers and you're ready to roll.

    Hell if it fails you're only out a few dollars.
  12. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Hi Racer
    I did some digging on thumpertalk and found this option for a seat mod

    Its expensive to buy but I think a similar mod could be done here by modifying/extending the original seat base, adding foam to the sides and re-upolstering

    I also like this idea from Ebay
    Its similar to your water bottle idea. Scroll down on this link for an enlarged picture


    As for the Corbin option, I was surprised to read a fair amount of negative feedback about this product on the thumper forum.
  13. Klaus

    Klaus Ol'Timer

    Don't know about the 450's, but I've had the air cooled 650 versions of Honda and Suzuki, maybe they compare. The Honda seemed like a 50/50 street/off road bike, while the DR 650 was 80/20, more of a streetbike, ideal for a super-moto. Also the Honda's engine made more power the more you opened it up, while the Suzuki was tuned for more midrange. I liked the Honda morre for its high seat position and looks, but then stuck with the DR for everyday use. And the DR had more power, even though I had a Supertrapp, K&N filter and bigger main jet on the Honda. Maybe this applies to the 450's as well.
  14. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Just for the record, I bought a 2003 DR-Z400S a few days ago in Phnom Penh.

    I still like the simplicity of the Honda XR400 but finding one in original condition with "genuine" low km's is very hard in Phnom Penh.
    I took two 1997 models for test rides in Phnom Penh and although they ran quite well, they were a hotchpotch of compnents from various bikes.

    Agree with others about the weight comparison. The DR-Z is noticably heavier than the XR. Also,I was told the simple XR electrics handle river crossings better than the DRZ

    Regarding the XR400 headlight strength, I talked to a guy in Phnom Penh with an XR400. He spent ~$400 and bought a Baja designs stator and runs a high wattage headlight.

    As for my newly aquired DRZ400, the more I ride it, the more I like it. Got the bike shop to fit a racing Mikuni carb and FMF exhaust at no extra cost, ie robbed it off another bike they had for sale.
    Plenty of power. Got 26km per litre at 90kmph between Phnom Penh and Kampot
    Around town it gets ~22km/liter. Offroad umm ....less.

    For highway use it could probably use a 6th gear but 15t front / 42t rear sprocket is adequate for economic cruising at 90-100kmph.
    I beleive standard is 15/44
    Not too many roads in Cambodia where its safe to go faster, what with the cows, chickens, children, crazy Khmer taxi drivers etc
    I admit the gearing is more set up for offroad where 47/48t rear sprocket is a more likely choice.

    I will probably get a Corbin seat for it, as long as I can figure out a cheap shipping option.

    Thanks for the previous feedback everyone. For further info, I can highly recommend the thumpertalk forum suggested to me by racer55

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