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The Suzuki DR-Z400S is an awesome choice for a capable yet lightweight adventure bike. The DR-Z400S model was introduced way back in 2000. It has stuck around because it’s a great bike and also very reliable. The fact that it’s been around for so long is great because you can often find a used one for a good deal (although they’re only a little over $6,500 new), but it’s also great because there are a lot of accessories available for them. The DR-Z400S can handle the highway and tackle the trails.

Our brands manager, Justin, took a 2012 DR-Z400S and added a few accessories to enhance it for long adventure rides. If you have a DR-Z400S (or at looking at getting one) and want to get it ready for ADV riding, you won’t want to miss this bike build.

Justin on the DR-Z400S

Range

One of the most important features of a good adventure bike is fuel range. The first thing we did with this bike was add an IMS 4-gallon tank, which is an improvement over the stock 2.6-gallon tank by over 50%. This larger capacity has allowed Justin to reach a 200-mile range. For the rides that require a larger range than that, we’ve added the one-gallon RotopaX Fuel Pack. If you want an even bigger tank, you can pick up a Safari 7.4-gallon fuel tank, which has 280% of the capacity of the stock tank.

Adding a bigger tank is only part of increasing your range. The bike’s jetting is a big deal. When we first got this DR-Z400S, it was running poorly, lowering the bike’s gas mileage. It ran lean down low, rich at high RPM, and just didn’t feel right. So we put in a jet kit from JD Jetting. We also opened up the top of the airbox to allow the bike to breathe more. We did this by cutting a 3″x3″ hole around the snorkel. The result is that the bike runs much better – allowing it to reach its maximum range while offering better performance as well.

DR-Z400S on an Adventure Ride

Luggage

If you truly want your DR-Z400S to be an adventure bike, you need it to be able to carry luggage. We installed the Tusk Pannier Racks. These work well with the hard Tusk Aluminum Panniers, but they also work with practically any brand’s soft bags. We have used Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags on this bike in the past but wanted to test out the Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers. These panniers are extremely durable. They’re also simple, with just one main compartment on each side. They have a front compartment that perfectly fits water bottles. It’s a hassle-free solution to carrying water in an easily accessible location.

We also have the Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag. It works great and is very durable. Justin prefers to put all of his camping gear in it – tent, sleeping bag, pad, pillow and a few other things (like a jacket or hammock). The ROK Straps allow you to cinch everything up really tight and keep it firmly attached to the bike.

Last with the luggage is the Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag. As with the other Wolfman bags, it’s well built. The nice thing about a tank bag is that it keeps things very accessible. It’s great for things like sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, snacks and little accessories like that.

Luggage Packed

Accessories for Off-Road

Next is protection. We like to stay off-road as much as possible when adventure riding, so protection for the bike is really important. We installed a Ricochet aluminum skid plate on the bottom. It’s a tough skid plate, and you’re not going to have any problems with rocks going through your cases if you’ve got it on.

Another must-have addition for off-road use is better foot pegs. We installed the IMS Pro-Series Foot Pegs. They’re a lot wider than the stock pegs, and they have better cleats too. You’ll be able to hook up on them a lot better.

We also replaced the stock license plate holder with the DRC Moto LED Edge 2 Aluminum Tail Light Holder. It includes a slimmer, better-looking license plate bracket that is less likely to break off while you’re off-road. Note that if you make this change, you’ll have to use different rear turn signals as well. We used the Tusk Mini Stalk LED Turn Signals.

Foot Peg and Skid Plate

Tires

The stock tires that come on the DR-Z400S are primarily made for the road. They’re not great in the dirt. We’ve tried out several tires. The Dunlop D606 is a great option. The Continental TKC80s are also good, though a little more street oriented than the Dunlop. The Michelin AC10s are also good, and they’re more of an off-road tire; they’re very aggressive.

Justin’s preference is to run rim locks. The bike doesn’t come stock with them, but if you end up with a flat tire, a rim lock will keep the bead of the tire on the rim a little longer. If you use a rim lock as well, remember that you need to balance it out with wheel weights.

Wheelie

Handlebar Accessories

On the handlebars, we installed the Tusk Grip Heater Kit to make riding more comfortable in cold weather. They work with standard grips and are easy to install.

Sometimes the stock mirrors can get knocked loose by a branch or something along the trail, forcing you to take the time to pull over, get out your tools and fix it before you can continue on your way again. Using the Double Take Enduro Mirror Kit solves that problem. The mirrors are attached using ball joints which are designed to give way if they get bumped. This also means that you can easily move them into different positions.

Up front, we installed the Baja Designs Squadron Pro LED Light. This is nice to have when you’re off-road in the dark. It does a much better job at illumination than the stock headlight.

We also put on the Tusk D-Flex Handguards to give a little extra protection. There are actually several styles, but we opted to use the ones with the integrated turn signals and remove the stock turn signals.

DR-Z400S Bike Build

Electronics

When we plan an adventure ride, we typically map out trails on Google Earth and export them to a GPS. That’s how we follow the route we plan. Because of this, a GPS unit is a very important component of an adventure bike. We went with the Garmin Montana 680, but there are a lot of GPS navigation systems available that work well for adventure bikes.

Another electronic device we like to take on adventure rides is the inReach satellite communication system. It allows you to communicate via text messages and location pings, even in areas where you don’t have cell phone service. If there’s an emergency, you’ll be grateful you brought an inReach device along. If you’re traveling alone, you should have a device like this. Even if you’re traveling in a group, someone should have one. The inReach device we have on this bike is a little bit older, but we have newer models available on our website (and they are actually easier to use and have a little bit more functionality).

In the dash area, Justin cut out a plastic plate to house the switches for the light and heated grips, and he also added a power socket to keep the electronic devices charged. You can, however, get power sockets that mount right to the handlebars.

Garmin Montana 680

Comfort

We installed the Cee Bailey’s Windshield for the street. If you spend a lot of time on the highway for a particular section of your ride, the wind can be fatiguing. A windshield cuts down on that a lot. Justin felt like this windshield was a little too close with the other equipment installed (like the GPS and the inReach), but some spacers between the windshield and the bike solved that problem.

Last is the Seat Concepts Complete Seat. This is a great addition to any adventure motorcycle. If you’re going to spend most of your day on your bike – which you do on an adventure ride – it pays to have a comfortable seat.

Suzuki DR-Z400S Adventure Bike Build

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These are some of the things we’ve done to this DR-Z400S to make it more capable for adventure rides. As mentioned above, it’s a great choice when it comes to a lighter weight adventure bike. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more builds, bike tests and product spotlights.

Check out the parts below for a list of accessories mentioned in this article. If you’re looking for even more ideas, check out our DR-Z400S accessories page. Let us know in the comments if there is anything else we missed that you would add on a DR-Z400S build.

Adventure Riding

Products Used

IMS Four-Gallon Fuel Tank RotopaX One-Gallon Fuel Pack Safari 7.4-Gallon Fuel Tank
IMS Fuel Tank (4.0 Gallons) RotopaX Fuel Pack Safari Fuel Tank (7.4 Gallons)
JD Jetting Jet Kit Tusk Pannier Racks Tusk Aluminum Panniers
JD Jetting Jet Kit Tusk Pannier Racks Tusk Aluminum Panniers
Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag
Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag
Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag Ricochet Off-Road Skid Plate IMS Pro-Series Foot Pegs
Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag Ricochet Skid Plate IMS Pro-Series Foot Pegs
DRC Moto LED Edge 2 Aluminum Tail Light Holder Tusk Mini Stalk LED Turn Signals Dunlop D606 Dual Sport Tire
DRC Moto LED Edge 2 Aluminum Tail Light Holder Tusk Mini Stalk LED Turn Signals Dunlop D606 Dual Sport Tire
Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Front Tire Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Rear Tire Michelin AC10 Dual Sport Tire
Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Front Tire Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Rear Tire Michelin AC10 Dual Sport Tire
Tusk Motorcycle Rim Lock Motion Pro Wheel Weights Tusk Grip Heater Kit
Tusk Motorcycle Rim Lock Motion Pro Wheel Weights Tusk Grip Heater Kit
Double Take Enduro Mirror Kit Baja Designs Squadron Pro Single LED Light Tusk D-Flex Handguards with MX Shields and Turn Signals
Double Take Enduro Mirror Kit Baja Designs Squadron Pro LED Light Tusk D-Flex Handguards with MX Shields and Turn Signals
Garmin Montana 680 GPS Garmin Bike Handlebar Mount Garmin inReach Explorer+
Garmin Montana 680 GPS Garmin Bike Handlebar Mount Garmin inReach Explorer+
Garmin inReach Powered Mount Tusk 12 Volt Power Socket Cee Bailey’s Motorcycle Windshield
Garmin inReach Powered Mount Tusk 12 Volt Power Socket Cee Bailey’s Windshield
Seat Concepts Complete Seat
Seat Concepts Complete Seat