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2019 Suzuki DR650 Bike Review: Martyn Blake

The bike release series interviews noteworthy riders and extracts as much information as possible to share with RemoteMoto readers. In this article we interview Martyn Blake from Dual Sport Australia, a well-respected rider in the Australian adventure riding scene. He is sharing with us his views on the 2019 Suzuki DR650.

We all know the Suzuki DR650 has only had a few minor changes since its first release to the market nearly 3 decades ago in 1990. However, this bike continues to sell in high numbers around the globe even though adventure riders have an ever increasing number of new bikes to choose from.

We know Martyn Blake has been a fan of the DR650 for many years and with his recent purchase of a 2019 model, we thought would find out why.

It's worth noting that Martyn Blake has a great relationship with RemoteMoto. In 2017 Josh from RemoteMoto put together a 5 day South Island route for Martyn and his riding buddy Mark Wolf. Josh led them on the first day of the route and soon learned Martyn is a bit of a joker. Once Martyn learned that Josh was a KTM owner, the orange jokes came in thick and fast! So if you are a KTM owner, brace yourself as you read Martyn’s review, of course, it is all in the name of good fun and humour ;)

Purchasing the Suzuki DR650

From the moment I laid eyes on its rugged good looks I knew it was the bike for me. It’s a striking black and red - black being the new Orange. The best bit is, as it’s my forth DR650, it is exactly as good as I remember the last three.

Visual Appeal

From its rounded curves to the lack of orange, it is hard to pick a favourite. The whole package screams reliable and fun.

Buy Price

It's at less than half the price of a KTM and will last twice as long. Plus all your accessories fit straight on from your last DR. Plus everything is great value from Vince Strang Motorcycles.

Riding Position and Comfort

The riding postion is perfect once you put on the higher bars and lower footpegs, you might as well buy some shiny stuff and go on a holiday, you saved so much buying the bike.

Seat Comfort for Extended Riding

You really have to look at yourself for this one. I have kept standard seats on all my DR’s around 80,000 km each. The seat has been great, lots better than an enduro bike seat - wide, flat and with foam that doesn't go all soft and gooey. The only difference with my reaction to the DR seat is if you ride it every day the seat is great, if you sit around an office and ride occasionally you might not be up to it. Channel your inner rugged Aussie and you will be fine.

Feel and Control Off-Road

The best thing is if you push a DR650 it behaves like a good dirt bike should. Revalve and respring the suspension both ends and you can give enduro bikes fits in the tight stuff in the bush and embarrass youngsters on natural terrain grass moto tracks.

It will easily handle Grade 5 RemoteMoto sections or even real hills like we have locally. It carves gravel, not overly fussy on front tyres to steer well.

Mine doesn’t really like large logs or deep rutty single as the cases are wider than enduro bikes, but they will bat well above their weight.

Weight

She identifies as being lightweight and it’s rude to ask. The only way those skinny enduro girls stay skinny is they smoke, usually after 10,000 km or maybe even earlier. DR’s are fun and reliable, the type of bike you want to take home and meet mum.

Engine Power and Performance

The DR650 makes great low down power - smooth and effortless. They will rev but fuel use goes up as expected. The best part is they are so quiet, you can sneak up on an enduro bike and dive underneath in a corner before they even know you’re there.

You can put on pipes, carbies, cams, big bore kits but fuel use suffers, and as I believe if you can out-ride the modified chassis/suspension using the bike well outside its design parameters why touch the motor - you just get more noise.

Suspension Performance

Adventure riding is such a personal thing as to where you go, how much you carry or personal comfort setup that everyone modifies their suspension even if they buy a six-days bike.

With a DR there is so much choice in product, from mild to wild, and remember you still have piles of cash left from the purchase to go on holiday.

Brakes

Well-balanced and trouble-free, if you like going slower you can have braided lines and bigger rotor, might as well buy a bigger tank as well.

Fuel Tank Size

So much choice - what colour, what size, what shape? I personally have a 20 litre IMS and a 36 litre safari tank for the desert. If the numbers sound wrong, tanks stretch and after a few previous bikes they hold more fuel.

At 13 litres and around 220-240km the stock tank is useable, a six-litre bladder adds extra range so you can keep the shiny tank on if you like, they look so much better than stained translucent tanks.

Fuel Economy

Just been flogging the DR on the gravel backroads round my house and used 10.3 litres for 200km, gets better millage if you're easy on the throttle.

Service Intervals

With the bikes being so reliable I usually halve Suzuki’s service levels, just so I have something to do. The bike will safely do the full 5000 km between services, but as nothing breaks, I do them early before the oil goes black.

Ease of Servicing

Air-cooled, easy as. If you leave your snorkel in the airbox your filter is rarely dirty.

Reliability

Buy a new one and axes are less reliable. With such a long model run, head gaskets fixed 2003, 3rd gear fixed 2010, NSU bolts fixed 2017, counter shaft seal fixed 2014 - all done.

Aftermarket Parts Availability

You can buy so many parts and have so much choice between the same parts. There are so many modified DR650s in Australia because they are the best for Aussie conditions, from desert to rainforest and the vast expanses in between. Despite the fact they are a best-seller, you rarely find two exactly the same, just like people, DRs can be individual.

If there is not enough aftermarket for you as a DR owner, consider getting help for your shopping disorder.

General Thoughts

The best adventure bike for the person that likes to put the adventure in adventure riding but doesn’t want to worry about crossing a desert unsupported. It's the bike for the person who rides a lot, but can’t afford changing their bike every year and losing thousands. And, it's the bike for the person who used to ride enduro bikes but has nothing to compensate for.

Hopefully they make them long enough so I can buy my fifth.

 

Bike review by: Martyn Blake
Interviewer: Jessie Meek