2011 Suzuki DR650SE
Although BSA and Triumph fans may beg to differ, Yamaha invented the big, modern dual purpose thumper with their brilliant XT500 35 years ago. Suzuki then proceeded to advance this motorcycling form to its greatest extreme with their 1990 DR-800 which saw their top enduro bike powered by a cylinder larger than one from the Boulevard M90!
Fortunately the Big S company has abandoned the mega thumper stakes and with the 2011 Suzuki DR650SE has perfected one of the most advanced and refined large single cylinder on and off road motorcycles ever offered.
Based around a mighty and time proven 644cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled, SOHC, four-valve engine with a digitally mapped DC-DCI ignition system and fed by a huge 40mm Mikuni carb, the 2011 DR650SE is a far cry from the unwieldy tank-like DR-BIGs of the past, and has evolved into an agile dual purpose motorcycle with an enviable curb weight of 366 pounds which just happens to be able to cruise effortlessly at highway speeds.
Whether your idea of a fun weekend includes blasting at breakneck speeds on smooth fire roads or exercising precise control on a rocky trail, the DR650SE is completely in its element. It will balance and boulder hop with a deftness and finesse that favourably compares to much smaller and dedicated trials bikes, then when it comes time to get to the other side of the canyon it will astound you with its ability to proficiently exceed the national highway speed limit on a dirt trail. The best part of the DR650SE's amazingly wide range of abilities is that on Monday morning, it will competently commute to work or school with handling and power that easily competes with any midrange street bike.
Any dual purpose motorcycle is by its definition a compromise, thus the front 90/90-21M/C 54S and rear 120/90-17M/C 64S trials pattern tires can't be expected to grip the road like street racing treads nor provide the traction of full knobbies in the dirt, mud and sand. If you're able to keep those limitations in mind, the handling of the DR650SE will fully satisfy you in any situation.
The DR650SE features a dealer installed variable seat height position bringing the 35 inch standard down to 33.25 inches and includes a specially shortened sidestand. Although still too towering for the shortest range of riders this is a much welcome concession to a considerably wider demographic than the average big thumper. How refreshing it is to find a large displacement enduro that still provides 260 mm of travel on both ends and does not require a 42 inch inseam to straddle!
From its lightweight front and rear two piston calipers discs to the revolutionary cartridge front suspension which acts as a hybrid between inverted and conventional forks, the 2011 Suzuki DR650SE is a technological jewel and easily one of the best on and off roaders ever built.
2011 Suzuki DR650SE At A Glance
Base MSRP: $6,399
Engine Displacement: 644 cc
Engine Type: Air cooled 4 stroke single
Bore & Stroke: 100 mm x 82 mm
Ignition Type: Electronic
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Transmission Type: Five-speed, constant mesh
Final Drive Type: D.I.D 525 V9, 110 links
Front Tire: 90/90-21M/C 54S, tube type
Rear Tire: 120/90-17M/C 64S, tube type
Wheelbase: 1490 mm
Saddle Height: 885 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 166 kg
Fuel Capacity (US): 3.4 gal
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released