If you could only own one bike........
The DR650 is a great bike but it needs a few mods to make it an exceptional all rounder.
1 - chuck the standard seat away (the further away the better)
2 - chuck the standard muffler away (as above)
3 - 20 litre acerbis fuel tank
4 - carb rejet with procycle jetting kit plus mods to the carb & airbox as per Full Force Racing Video. (BETTER MPG than stock set up + more power !!!!)
Sure the DR650 is a bit on the porky side and the suspension may need a bit of tweaking but it is the best adventure bike you can buy for the money - Basic & reliable with little to break when you fall off (which you will if you use it to get off the beaten track)
There is a good reason why the DR650 has legions of diehard fans.....
One of the best all round bkes ever made
I have had 3 of these, replacing each with a new one every few years. I've been riding nearly 50 years, don't drive a car and have owned over 60 bikes in my time, and to me the DR is one of the best bikes around. Unchanged since 1996 and with no known major problems other than a very few which have had serious 3rd gear failures, they are light, robust, incredibly reliable and easy to maintain, and are a joy to handle on twisty roads. The engine has screw adjusted tappets and the air filter, oil filter and plugs are readily accessible so doing a service takes a matter of minutes. Over perhaps 80,000km on these I've averaged 4.8L/100km over every type of road in the country, including thousands of kilometres of dirt riding and I've never had any breakdowns, failures or other problems with any of them. Not even a blown globe.
I modified my first one with a Staintune exhaust and carb airbox and jetting mods and it did up power and lower the weight, but at some cost to fuel consumption and a lot more noise, and in the end I opted for the standard carb setup and a sightly modified stock exhaust, which is how I set up the other two. I also fitted different bars, a 20L Acerbis tank, 43T rear sprocket, Hepco & Becker rear rack and topbox, modified seat, Oxford heated grips and LED spotlights, and carried those parts over on subsequent DRs. I use the stock Trailwing tyre on the front and a Mitas E07 on the rear. The DR will sit on 115kmh on the highway without any problems and is surprisingly stable at speed for such a light bike, and once you've either got used to the original seat or replaced it, very long distances can be done in a day. They are also happy to plonk around in 1st gear in dirt as long as the revs are kept over 3000rpm. The engine is torquey, but doesn't pull much below 3000, and is in its real powerband between 4500 and 5500 rpm, where it becomes very smooth and has ample power on tap. (I also always have a large touring bike in the garage - BMW R1200, Kawasaki 1000, Bandit 1250 or similar, and the DR doesn't feel gutless after riding them.) I weigh about 80kg and the suspension has always been left on the settings it came from the factory as it works fine for me and soaks up potholed roads and moderate off-roading without any dramas.
There are no downsides to the DR, and having ridden its main opposition the KLR, the only benefits of the KLR are the huge standard fuel tank, slightly more comfortable seat and better wind protection, but at a cost of considerable weight and maintenance complexity. They also keep their resale value and are very quick to sell when the time comes. You'll never get bored with a DR, so buy one and put some fun back into your riding.
Love the bike.
I bought the bike with 5000ks on the clock. I have now done 13000k.
The bike does every thing I want it too for how I use it,which is more road than dirt. The bike sits on 100kmr without a problem.Also as I am getting older I wanted a more lighter bike with less maintenance and the DR is perfect. I service the bike myself. I still have the standard tank on it and I get about 250km between fills depending how I ride it .Only vice is the seat it’s a bit hard on the backside but a lambs wool fixes that.Recomend the bike to any one.
Simplicity at it's finest.
Great bike, they haven't changed much over twenty years or so. As with most bikes they have a few niggly things that need modifying but that comes down to personal preference and what you plan on doing with it I suppose. For me it was the front suspension that dived hard under heavy front wheel braking but some heavier front springs and a set of intiminators sorted that one out.
Original seat was replaced with a Sargeant Seat for those long days in the saddle.
The old Mikuni BST40 carburettor in the bike is probably not cutting edge technology as I think Noah used one on the arc so I replaced that with a Mikuni TM40.
The aftermarket industry is in overdrive for the DR650 with an endless supply of cheap accessories available for it and the bike is cheap to start with so a bit of customising can give you the perfect bike.
Have racked up over 40 thousand K's on mine with no probs, think I read somewhere someone had over 400,000!
I weigh 75kg and am 178cm and find the bike a perfect size as some of the other adventure touring bikes weigh well over 200kg unloaded and are just too heavy loaded and the going gets tough.
Air-cooled, carby, no high tech trickery on these girls keeps life pretty simple so it gives you the confidence to take it to those back-of-burke places with some confidence that old Billy-bob at Oodnadatta garage will have that spare watchamacallit in the back of the shed to get you going again.
I mainly ride dirt roads and tracks and avoid bitumen where possible and the DR fits my critique spot on.
Good luck with your choice, I'm happy with mine!
This bike is fantastic to ride. Purchased one earlier this year. Love that it's simple to tinker around with too. Unlike other bikes, this one is easy to make any adjustments or repairs to. This bike has been ridden both on road and off. When riding on road once it reaches about 80 kilometres per hour it starts to get a bit reckless. This I have attributed to it's dirt tyres. When off road this bike makes everything a breeze. Even beginner riders are able to test out and build skills off road without coming off. This bikes balance is fantastic considering it's height and weight.
Great highway bike that doubles as a dirt bike
I got a black DR 650 SE. Rode it from adelaide to Darwin and out to kakadu and finke gorge track and oonadatta track and flinders ranges. Perfect bike for offroad and highway. I put a safari tank on it and it was sufficient for all without needing any spare tanks of fuel.
Its a solid reliable bike that never let me down. Off course one needs to find the right tyres. I chose Dunlop dual purpose. I also got a small custom windscreen for the front which made highway riding more pleasing. People complain about the seat stiffness. But wasn't issue for me. But my main concern was knowing about the dreaded neutral screw that comes loose in some bikes especially on corrigation.
I was going to take the screws out and drill a hole through them and connect with wire to stop such. But in the end i just got a magnetic sump plug and reminded myself that if the neutral light plays up. Don't start the bike!
Anyhow over 15000 km and not one single mechanic problem.
Not just a motorbike. , forget dogs being mans bestfreind, your dog will come second to one of these
Very great motorcycle. 1. Cheap. You can pick a used one up very cheap.
2. Build any bike. They are a platform for a great adventure tourer, daily commute, heavy dirtbike, supermotard, tractor to tow a plough.
3. Lots and lots of ome and aftermarket parts and accessories.
4. Loves to wheelie.
This bike comes with alloy rims, straight pull spokes, an oil cooler, a rear shock that doesn't sag, dual spark plugs (good spark), foam air filter (more effective than a paper one), wide seat and a small headlight that puts out enough light to see by (but could be better). It has a solid subframe and weighs 166 Kg which is quite heavy for a road/trail bike. Bikes in this class commonly range from 100-140 Kg making it at least 20 Kg heavier than it should be.
The tappets are adjusted by shims... which means less adjustments than the screw and locknut method.
The 525 chain is a compromise between the heavier 530 chain and the lighter 520 chain. The 525 chain lasts much longer (>20,000 km) than a 520 chain (~12,000 km) and needs less adjustment. With a chain oiler (Scottoiler) you can increase the lifespan dramatically (probably double).
The small 13.1 L tank doesn't go far enough if you like riding. The mileage on this bike is pretty average at around 17 -19 km/L although many owners report 21 km/L. The engine is powerful but quite rough (slightly better balancing should be possible?). If you want power this is one of the most powerful bikes you could buy in this class. An oil analysis on this bike showed excess copper (presumably bearings?). Adding some Xcelplus to the engine to reduce friction made it run much more smoothly, improved fuel efficiency and reduced wear by around 50 % (this means the tappets have never needed adjustment as the gap hasn't changed in 46,000 km).
This bike could have easily been a 600. The extra 50 cc is just for those who think bigger is better but is probably at least partially responsible for the extra weight.
Oil changes are every 6,000 km which simply reflects the high temperatures that an air cooled engine runs at (roughly double that of a water cooled engine). It's surprising that the oil cooler doesn't drop the engine temperature a bit more. Both sides of the engine get uncomfortably warm with normal use. Suzuki could easily run the oil through the frame or added a few extra fins to drop the temperature a bit more?
The standard front tyre (Trailwing aka Deathwing) was woeful and squirmed whenever you braked hard. Changed it to a Dunlop Trailmax which lasts a long time, grips the road well and brakes brilliantly.
The standard rear tyre was OK but it wore out a bit too quickly. Changing it to a Mitas E07 roughly doubled tyre life (>20,000 km) while giving decent grip including in the dirt.
It would be nice to have air caps in the front forks as otherwise there is no way to adjust them (they tend to sag). It is very easy and cheap to add caps which is why it's surprising that the factory doesn't do it. The same goes for grease nipples why doesn't the factory add some? It's an easy job at the factory... but it's a hard one if you do it later.
One thing you miss is the tacho. A temperature gauge would be nice as these bikes being air cooled run at roughly double (160~200 C) the temperature of a water cooled bike. Xcelplus was used to reduce the temperature although without a gauge it's very hard to work out how much it dropped.
The oil filter is an internal item. It would be nice if it came with an external spin on filter.
There is no ABS option for this bike (mandated for 2021). As at least 30% of all m/c accidents involve a failure to brake properly this is a worthwhile addition that Suzuki ought to include. This is meant to become standard on all new bikes in the next few years. ABS is well worth any extra money and it's worth upgrading just to get it.
From 1996 onwards the models don't change much... although if you have the opportunity you ought to buy a later model because they've been incrementally improving problem areas. You won't realise what those areas are unless you run into a problem a few years down the track. The local dealers don't know about these small improvements as Suzuki doesn't seem to make much of an effort to notify anyone when things change.
Suzuki parts prices are quite reasonable for most items. Parts availability is very good for most items. The dealers are usually very helpful.
The Acerbis 26L tanks fit the Suzuki well and give it a range of about 500 km. A 30 L safari tank makes the front too heavy... so don't buy one.
A Unifilter foam (dual layer) filter gives improved air filtration if you intend to go somewhere very dusty (like the desert)... but the standard foam air filter should already be fairly good.
A sheepskin is something you'll start to appreciate if you do some long trips.
The standard spark plugs only last 12,000 km and are meant to be gapped every 6,000 km... so investing in a set of 50,000 km iridium plugs or Torque Master Extreme Spark plugs (>100,000 km) will save you a lot of time (the tank has to come off to change the plugs) and money.
The standard globe is OK... but if you invest in a high output quartz halogen you can improve light output 50 % or more using the same amount of power. Haven't tried an LED headlight yet as they're hellishly expensive and it's not clear if they are any brighter than standard... although they do use a lot less power.
The standard flasher soon fails... so change it over for an electronic one N.B. Electronic flashers are compatible with LED indicators... whereas standard ones are not.
The indicators are fine... but it's not worth replacing them if you break them... just replace them with LED indicators which should be much cheaper (<$10 each?) and you won't have to worry about blowing any more globes?
Fork oil oil lasts a long time on this bike. An oil change was carried out at ~32,000 km (normally a 10,000 km job) and the oil still looked perfect. Just use ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) oil. ATF works better and is usually cheaper and easier to get than the specialist fork oils... most of which don't last as long.
The only thing to go wrong with this bike in 36,000 km is the cam chain tensioner gasket sprung a leak when the bike was fractionally overfilled with oil. It's an easy fix (about $3 for a gasket)... but it took ages to find the leak as oil was spraying upwards and dripping a long way away from the leak. The original gasket was installed minus gasket goo... the replacement was installed with a light smear of gasket goo... so it's unlikely to ever leak again even if overfilled.
Overall this is a very competent single cylinder bike that shouldn't give you too much trouble if you look after it.
Awesome bike. So good I bought two.
I bought an 04 model and thrashed it unmercifully for 5 years. I still have it and it goes great. I crashed and drowned it but it always came back for more. I bought another 2012 model and put 40'000 km on it in 3 years. Solid, dependable and tough. I will buy another when I wear this one out. There is a great range of aftermarket accessories available for them. If they fix the neutral sender unit issue and make the seat more comfortable it would be nearly perfect.
used a courier bike 95,oookm no problem at all, great on fuel, long power range through gears, comfortable seat, front shockers alittle small , great all round bike , oil cooled and no water or radiator was a bonus less trouble, use the clutch and dont break gears dude and ride properly. couldnt say more about it. love to own another one .
Suzuki DR opens many doors
Suzuki have been making the DR650 without many major changes for nearly 20 years. You would be forgiven for thinking that either, the bike is way old and something newer must be better or that after 20 years Suzuki have had all the time they need to refine this machine into the best the world will ever see. To get this out of the way early, the bike uses components that are old (the almost superseded rod style fork dampers for example), and a number of niggles mean that Suzuki have not developed the DR into the best machine possible.
So why ride one? Straight out of the shop it can do dirt, and get to the forest without a trailer, it can do highway speeds with or without a pillion, it can run you to and from work, or quietly take you to the shop for bread and milk. It can do twisty roads, and is more than happy to do 100kmh all day on the way to your mates beach shack. It's just, well, not really perfect at any of them. So why buy it?
That the stock DR650SE it is not perfect is it's biggest asset. Let's say dirt is your thing, swap the trailwings for some knobbies on it, some hand guards, stiffen up the suspension, and you are ready to roost. Or if touring is for you, throw on a bigger fuel tank (30ltr plastic tank gets 600km range!), some luggage racks, and a wider softer seat (important) and all that sealed and unsealed expanse of road is yours.
Once you know what you want to do on the bike, I'll bet there are aftermarket mods that will turn the stock DR650SE into your own snorting paddock pig.
Bike mods, and what can be achieved, are the reason for this review, and where the age of the bike works in it's favour. People across the world have been playing with the bike for two decades and posting online. Turns out the internet is for cat photos, porn, and the Dr. There are many forums discussing problems, fixes, modifications, rides. There are videos showing how to wheelie the big dirt bike, how to set it up for a North-South trip down South America, or just the easy way to change a tyre.
If you haven't got a Dr. in you stable, read forums and watch the videos to see if the two of you are a match. If you already have a Dr. read the forums and watch the videos to see if giving your pony that stainless steel exhaust might improve your relationship. It is super unlikely that the stock bike will be exactly what you need.
My 2013 grey Dr. has gone through (is going through) this long term transformation and with each adjustment of the rear brake level height my favourite little pony gets better and better. At the moment it is somewhere between a forestry/fire trail explorer and a overnight tourer.
A side benefit, one I did not expect, was reawakening my sleeping garage mechanic. This bike is super easy to work on, once you get the courage to take off the side panels & seat, I bet you'll find fitting fuel tanks or lowered foot pegs is huge fun - it is for me.
If you are returning to riding after a 10 or 15 year break (anyone want to hear my about mid-life crisis?) you might be aiming for adventure on a BMW GS or to cruise on a Honda Goldwing. But in your quieter moments you may be daunted by the size and weight (and cost) of those fab machines. The Dr. is light enough to be manageable, powerful enough to grow into, and cheap enough to sit in the shed all winter while you are paying the loan off.
And, people are awesome. If you mention you ride a Dr. all sorts, people you'd not expect, will want to tell you their bike story. A quiet word of advice, most people are more interested in re-living their story than listen to you re-live yours. Do them a huge favor, just listen and enjoy their adventures.
I've had coffee with a pair of DR riders in a country town who were hunting forestry roads, and chatted with a Canadian at the top of Tasmanian's Ben Lomond who had hired his DR in Sydney and was going clockwise around Aust. There are at least 5 regular DR commuters in my town.
Suzuki's stock DR650SE is a great kick off point, just go on to make it yours.
Great Budget All Rounder
First off, if you are seriously considering a DR then Google it, don't go by reviews here. There is a huge amount of content about the DR on the internet - just search on YouTube.
Secondly, you need to know a) what sort of rider you are - ability, aggressiveness, age,weight,height, strength etc and b) what sort of riding are you going to do. Work this out before you even go looking at bikes.
The DR is what it is - it does not pretend to be anything - it has many strengths and many weaknesses so do your research and get up to speed on them so you don't end up like the moaners giving it an undeserved 1 or 2 stars - that is a reflection on them, not the DR. It is an old design with old tech - air cooled and carburetor but that is also it's strength as it is simple, reliable and cheap to run and repair and they don't tend to get stolen like KTM's and the like.
STOCK - as a stock bike the DR is ideal for commuting, fire trails and light off road. The tank is small and the suspension does wallow but if you want to commute and play around a bit on the weekends the DR is ideal.
It is NOT a competitor to a KTM (or similar). Apart from the massive price differential you buy a KTM because you want race like performance and handling or because you realise you are too up yourself to buy a DR. I know people who have sold their KTM and got a DR because the KTM performance was too peaky for them and they preferred and enjoyed the more relaxed nature of the DR. Others have moved up to a KTM because they ant improved performance.
If you want to do more than fire trails and light off roads you will need to get the credit card out and start modifying - there are many many videos and articles about this. Many people buy a new DR and start modifying straight away. Common mods are;
- larger tank if you head into the bush for a few days. If you just do day trips standard is fine
- exhaust for more power and less weight, standard does the job fine though
- suspension - essential if seriously off roading
- seat - standard seat is hard and narrow
The mods list goes on and on and that is the great thing about the DR, you can buy it and modify it bit by bit as your confidence builds and you venture more and more off road, or not. I know guys with standard bikes who take them further into the rough stuff than guys on modified bikes - most is about the rider.
If you are a lighter person and want to do a lot of off road the DR is heavy so you may want to look at 250's or 400's. IF you are short you can get lowering links and lower seats.
If you want to do mostly rough dirt rides don't get the DR, a smaller, lighter more off road focused bike will be better for you. The big dilemma many DR buyers face is DR650 or DRZ400? If you plan to do mostly off road then go the DRZ, if you plan more road miles then the DR650. Ride both, talk to owners and make your choice. If the DRZ had a 6 speed gear box there would be a lot more of them and less DR650's sold.
The DR is a cheap entry bike into the adventure market. It is capable offroad and can rack up kilometres on road. It is a budget dual sport.
It is a compromise bike - I'd love a 250 dirt bike and I'd love a 900+ road bike but I can have both so the DR does it all. I'd love it to be lighter and more nimble in the dirt (and easier to pick up) but it is heavy, I'd love it to be more comfortable on the road but it's a 650 single with knobbies. It bridges the gap for me and many others well and does it in a way that people become very fond of their DR's.
The DR's biggest benefit is price. Cost to buy is low and cost to maintain is low. There is nothing that is as reliable as a DR that compares in cost price and maintenance costs. It is easy to own and you don't need to feel guilty if you are not using it. Most owners do their own servicing, I do oil and filter every 2000km but I do a lot of dirt, you'd stretch it out if you were on the road. Valves 8-10km, others go longer.
At the end of the day the rider makes most of the difference. I've out ridden guys on KTM's and even guys on the road on their fancy sports bikes. People tend to 'over-buy' bikes eg buy a Yamaha R1 when it's performance is well well beyond them. You can buy a Ducati or R1 and talk it up but if you don't have the skills or personality to brake late and lean low then it is wasted, and embarrassing when a guy on a dual sport passes you. Same with a KTM, you can spend $15k + but if you just ride road, fire trails and light off road you not using it at capacity and just spending more on maintenance and depreciation than you need.
THE DR650 IS IDEAL FOR
- commuting if you want the upright tall view
- light off roading
- budget conscious
- performance conservative people
- adventure riding - loading up and heading to the bush
- people who like to add on and modify over time
- laid back middle aged guys who want to get out of the house
NOT IDEAL FOR
- people wanting a rip snorting off road beast
- short - light people - it is heavy
- image conscious folk worried about what people will think of them
- 'Long way rounders" - people who in their mind want to conquer the world on an over weight, overloaded massive bike that restricts them to the paths most travelled
- dirt oriented folk
I love my modified DR650 but if I was buying tomorrow I'd look at a 450 now because the DR has re-inspired my love of dirt and I'd go for something lighter. However, I do love throwing a leg over and hitting the road in search of dirt and the DR keeps me within 'safer limits' so I don't get serious injuries.
Horses for courses, do you research, work out what you want and take a punt. The DR is a starter bike for many, it gets them in the game and from there they start to work out what they really want eg more road oriented, more dirt oriented or more power. There are lots of great used DR's for sale from $3-$6k buy one of these and if you don't like it sell it on, you won't lose too much and you'll work out if a DR is for you or you want something different.
Whatever you decide, just do it, get a bike and get out there.
Fooled by good reviews
Bought a 2015 dr after reading mostly good reviews but quickly realized that this was not the bike for me. Dual purpose? Not really, high speed wobbles at highway speeds around 100 km/hr, tiny fuel tank and extremely uncomfortable seat. As for off road this bike is basically useless, front forks bottom out on anything more aggressive than washboard (210lb rider) stock tires are useless off-road and without lowering the foot pegs and adding bar risers this bike is very cramped and very uncomfortable while standing/riding 5' 11" rider. If you are expecting to pay $6500 for a ready to ride bike you will be sorry. I don't doubt this is a strong bike mechanically and I like the old school style but be prepared to dish out a couple $$$$ to make this a decent ride.
Brand new 2015 DR650 review.
Just clocked 1200 klms and put bike in for its first service. I complained about a bad rattling, clanging and banging noise when the bike was under load or with two up. The dealership said it was normal. I have owned motorcycles all my life and I have never heard noises come from a bike like that before. I was worried that the bike was faulty. I would not recommend purchasing this motorcycle. Its down right embarrassing riding down the street rattling and clanging and banging like that.
Just bought a new 2015 DR as well. Still running in (220k) but a bit if pinging and tapping at cruising speed (60-80ks). Is that normal? Great bike but sometimes noisy and not sure if that is normal i.e the sounds. I love the DR but not good enough to know the right or wrong noises.
Be Aware Of Gearbox Issues
2007 DR650 35,000 km (failed August 2015)
Bearing and/or 3rd gear failure, this can and has destroyed engines. Not restricted to any particular year model and no specific kilometers.
No recall or gearbox upgrade notification to date.
Bike forums listing bikes affected worldwide.
Great motor with a hand grenade gearbox - reliability issue.
Repair cost high.
I will require confirmation this issue has been addressed before considering to repair or replacement my bike.
To date no response from Suzuki Australia.
UPDATE: Received response from Suzuki Australia (late 2015) which in short said " See your local Suzuki Dealer Parts & Service Department".
Local Dealer advised, gear and bearing part numbers had not changed, therefore no change to parts.
Replacing bike, not a Suzuki.
Simply the best.
I bought a brand spankers 2015 one about 5 months ago, and am very, very happy with it. The secondhand ones were too close to the new price of $8K on the road, so I went for the new option. She's quick on the road, and more than capable off road. I've lowered the gearing a bit, via a smaller front sprocket; but will have to go further with a larger rear and a new chain set. I will convert to the more common chain size at that time too. A split shift gearbox would make these the perfect bike, but maybe just another set of wheels/sprockets and chain will have to do. It's easy and intuitive to work on. The oil changes are simple, and the bike is very old school simple.
The stock seat is as hard as a rock, but that can be changed according to ones budget. A sheep skin is saving me for the time being. Same with the exhaust and power options etc.
I'm sticking with bog stock at the moment, as it's like stealth mode out in the bush, but will upgrade next year to something louder with a carburettor/air intake fix at the same time. Their about 43 HP stock, but 55 HP is easily achieved, and if you want a lot more than that, get a much bigger, heavier and more expensive bike.
These iconic chook-chasers have stood the test of time, and have a huge following both here and overseas. Great aftermarket parts and support via a few different forums etc.
Get out there, and have fun.
July 2016; I've fitted a softer seat, and louder pipe. A small fly-screen and a 12 volt outlet. I'm still happy with the bike, and will probably keep it until I can't ride a bike anymore. It's just so easy to own, and fun to ride.
Ready for Adventure
What a versatile motorcycle. Have recently purchased a brand new 2015 DR650SE with the free Enduro pack that Suzuki presently has on offer. I have also had the optional lowering kit fitted to make it more user friendly for all our family. Quite a light bike for a 650cc which makes it easy to ride as a commuter and still very happy to cruise at the legal speed limit on open roads. Changes in the future - perhaps the seat which is a little hard and also a larger tank for longer trips out west. This bike is a keeper!
very impressed with the style and power
Love this ride. Easy to control on road off road. Highly recommended to anyone who wants a cheap easy to maintain motorcycle.
Never ever again
One of the bike that I used without enjoying it. Uncomfortable highway riding, seat uncomfortable. Engine doesn't have the punch, power not enough for me. Being a 650 engine it should me more powerful. The bike is not stable on the road after 110kms starts wobbling. During small windy days found that the bike shakes. Not economical with the fuel consumption.
Good points: Good on country off road use. Suspensions good and the look of the bike.
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