Real Rides: Chris’ DR-Z400SM

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Supermotos are dirt bikes that have been converted for street legal use. The knobby tires have been replaced with street ones and mirrors and turn signals have been added to the bike for legality. This means you get all the versatility of a dirt bike on the street and all the fun that goes with it. They are incredible machines known for their robustness and go-anywhere ability. Here is reader Chris Fetherston’s DR-Z400SM and why he rides it.

Chris wheelyng on his DR-Z.

The Rider
Chris Fetherson is a 27 year old designer and web developer from New Jersey who’s been “an avid motorcyclist for as long as he can remember.” His father introduced him to motorcycles by teaching him how to ride a dirt bike when he was 6 years old. Chris has owned many bikes aside from the DR-Z400SM — an R6, a Ducati 748 track bike and he is in the process of restoring a Yamaha RD350. He is also participates in the supermoto community on the east coast and has been a Eastern Supermoto Racing Association (ESMRA) rider.

The DR-Z400SM through a corner.

The Bike
The DR-Z400 is a 398cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke dual-sport motorcycle that outputs 34 horsepower and 25 pounds of torque. It was introduced into the Suzuki line-up in 2001. The SM stands for supermoto and changes the motorcycle into a street legal dirt bike with mirrors and turn signals. The SM version of the DR-Z includes 17 inch wheels, oversized front and rear brakes, a RM-Z rear swing-arm and inverted forks.

The DR-Z from the rear.

Why He Rides A Supermoto
He changed his commute from car to bike because it shortened the time from a couple hours to 30 minutes and he could ride the DR-Z on backroads — which is great fun — with the added bonus of getting 45 miles to the gallon. He enjoys the DR-Z400SM because it’s a motorcycle that can adapt into any situation. He states: “I’ve done so many things with the DR-Z you just can’t do with any other motorcycle.”

He chose the DR-Z as his bike because of these four things – First, sportbikes made bad street bikes because they are overpowered for the street. Secondly, it’s so much more fun to ride a slower bike fast than a fast bike slow. Third, Chris was doing track days just before he bought his DR-Z and it was becoming too expensive and the chance of crashing at over 100mph was causing him to lose interest. Lastly, his experience with the DR-Zs have proven to him that it’s a bulletproof design. And he has plenty of proof with 23 races and 7000 miles of commuting under his belt without any problems. Chris has done almost everything on his moto — supermoto racing, trail riding, light touring, adventure riding, commuting and “keeping up with your sport bike friends.” Chris says you can do it all on the DR-Z400SM.

Want to see your bike on HFL? Email Info@RideApart.com with a few pics and words and, if we like it, we’ll contact you about creating a story.

  • Art Guilfoil

    That’s a cool intro to Supermoto. I’d like to see you guys do a full segment on it including amateur racing. There’s actually alot going on but most people don’t know about it and that keeps people away from diving in to Supermoto even though they have an interest.

    • Jakob Boedenauer

      I tend to agree with you. When i saw that they were doing stuff at Adams with the guys from SoCal Supermoto, i was thinking how great it would be to do a segment on Supermotos and Supermoto Track Days.

      • Art Guilfoil

        Those guys are doing alot to get people on SM’s at Adams. It’s great that they do the schools and even have the bikes too! I’ve been doing some at Apex in Perris. It’s growing a lot and I LOVE that track. Feb 10th is the next track day event. STTARS is holding 6 events there this year too.

  • KevinB

    Love a DRZ – probably the most fun bike I’ve owned. tip: try a braided line on the front

  • Strafer

    I recently picked up a dizzer (pictured)
    Having a lot of fun so far and i’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do
    One issue is they get stolen a lot where i am

    Suzuki wasn’t selling the sm version for a few years now so the only option was a used one – however, in 2013 they are bringing the sm back to the US (although i’m not sure i like the color)

    Design hasn’t changed significantly since it was introduced (article says 2001)

    Guess they ain’t going to fix what ain’t broke

    • http://www.facebook.com/hellomynameis.adrien Hellomynameis Adrien

      lock that up tight and cover it if you leave it on the street overnight. Mine was taken and i lived across the ave to the precinct.

      • http://www.facebook.com/josh.scharlinski Josh Scharlinski

        Keep mine in a garage, SM’s go quick in NYC. By the precinct on Astoria Blvd?

        • http://www.facebook.com/hellomynameis.adrien Hellomynameis Adrien

          no actually on 21st and 3rd ave in Manhattan. When it happened I walked across the street and filed a report – while i was there a cop tells me they found my bike, he tells me where to go – I rush outside to find a cop uncovering my other black bike (fucked up 04 R6) that was under a cover next to the one that was stolen. facepalm – then smile and then call the Insurance company. bad day, a while ago, but still a bad day.

    • http://www.facebook.com/josh.scharlinski Josh Scharlinski

      Hey, is that 5-pointz in Queens? I ride a DRZ and a KTM690, and live in Astoria. Let’s link u

  • Sergei Petrov

    Chris should check out njminigp.com as well. run sumos on carting tracks at njmp, sandy hook, etc. (no dirt sectiongs but lots of fun). All sizes of bikes as well, from 100s to big huskys etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3xEzsZfcD0

  • http://www.facebook.com/fetherston Chris Fetherston

    Thanks for the write up Daniel and HFL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.eicher.73 Daniel Eicher

    I went from a TL1000R to a DRZ400 motard. Last time I ate crap I picked it up laughing and rode away. I take it EVERYWHERE! It’s been ridden on both coasts, PA and Virginia mountains Single track in Washington state, down the Rocky Mountains… This is one bike I will never get rid of.

  • magiced

    These look like so much fun! if i didn’t have long distance touring with a pillion plans, i’d seriously consider one. if only i had enough space/cash for lots of bikes…

  • http://profiles.google.com/mugget mugget man

    Supermotos are good cheap fun, that’s for sure. But for me big bike track days will always be the ultimate. There’s just no way an SM can give the same kind of thrill as blasting down a long straight and tipping into a corner at more than 200km/h…

    If anyone is afraid of crashing they shouldn’t ride beyond their skill level, or just skill up and learn how to properly deal with fast speeds.