The Suzuki DR 650 is a dual-sport, on and off-road adventure motorcycle with a tried and tested reputation for being robust and low maintenance.
It’s touted as one of the best all-around dual-purpose motorcycles but like any bike it’s now without its flaws.
Let’s dirt-jump into the most common problems with the Suzuki DR 650!
1. Gear Nut Comes Loose
One of the small but rather common issues with the Suzuki DR 650 is the vibration of its motor.
The DR650’s power-punching engine action generates a vibration that, according to various consumer reports and tech documentation, can vibrate the primary gear’s retaining nut enough to loosen it off its thread.
You’ll need to take the primary cover off in order to restore the nut to its spec torque, which can be found in the service manual for your particular make and model.
We suggest applying a thread lock as you tighten the nut.
2. Countershaft Seal Leaks Oil
Reports of this happening are significantly less common than the previous item on the list.
That said, if your DR650’s countershaft seal is pushing out oil, you are dealing with a much more serious issue.
What happens on some Suzuki DR650s is that the seal around the front sprocket countershaft gets forced out of place, pushing oil out of the gearbox and engine in the process.
This is a dangerous situation, and not just for the performance and safety of your bike’s motor.
In the process of dumping oil, your DR 650 could skid on its own back tire, causing a loss of control that puts the rider at risk of a crash.
In addition to the hazardous safety risk to the rider, the oil is forced out so rapidly that the bike becomes unrideable without sustaining heavy engine damage.
Running a Suzuki DR 650 without oil causes overheating and metal-on-metal friction that causes heavy, rapid damage all the way up to a complete engine seizure.
In recent years, Suzuki began installing countershaft seal retainers to prevent this from happening – the 2016 year model’s countershaft seal retainer can be installed on all the previous year’s models as far back as ’96 as a preventative measure.
3. Stator Cover Plug gets Stuck
Various consumer reports have stated that the stator cover crank’s access plug on the DR 650 tends to weld itself into position, possibly because of heat or vibration.
This means riders are forced to chisel out the plug when doing relevant maintenance.
We suggest loosening the plug when the engine is hot, as it’s more malleable, and applying an anti-seize solution before re-plugging it.
Still, this is a hassle for more than a few frustrated DR650 owners who have to crack the plug loose the night before they plan to adjust their valves, which is part of routine maintenance.
5. Upper Chain Drive Roller Damaged Frame
So many DR 650 riders have reported their upper chain drive roller causing damage to their frame and drive chain that many of the riders have taken the roller off using DIY fixes to prevent it from happening.
On the 1996 – 2016 year model Suzuki DR650s, the upper chain roller’s mount isn’t strong enough to stand against the motor torque resulting from suspension compression.
The roller ends up pressing against the chain and snapping off at the mount, sometimes taking a piece of the frame with it.
Apparently, removing it doesn’t affect chain performance, but we suggest consulting a Suzuki technician before you attempt its removal.
6. Steering Head Bearings Lack Lubrication
We’ve read a few reports of riders claiming that their brand new Suauzki DR 650 came with dry steering head bearings that weren’t greased the way they needed to be for safe and efficient operation.
One report we found was from 2016, but it also mentioned the problem occurring on other year models.
Based on owner testimonies published online, it appears that some of the DR 650s left the Suzuki factory without the proper treatment of lubrication grease.
This isn’t the end of the world for mechanically-handy riders who catch the issue before it fails and are able to grease the steering head bearings themselves.
That said, if you ride the dry bearings for long enough, you’ll destroy them. Replacing the DR650’s steering bearings is a detailed job requiring front fork removal.
7. Damaged Wire Harness
We’ve encountered more than a few online consumer reports indicating an issue with the Suzuki DR 650’s light support bracket on the right side of the steering head.
Owners claim that the light support bracket has sharp edges capable of slicing into the wiring harness, should they come into contact while riding.
In more severe occurrences, the sharp edge of the bracket combined with the friction of contact is enough to cut and chaff the wiring harness until electrical components malfunction.
8. Rattling Noises
There are multiple reports published online by Suzuki DR 650 owners who are concerned by the clunking and rattling noises their bike makes while riding.
Furthermore, these DR owners imply that there is more than one rattling sound happening at once.
The clanking rattle on your Suzuki DR 650 could be caused by:
- The union clamp bolt in the middle of the pipe, between the header and pipe, is too long on some DR650s, causing it to rub on the shock spring and make a clunking noise.
- The shock shaft’s backup washer can shrink or expand due to friction and heat, eventually dislodging and rattling while you’re riding.
- Finally, the screws in the heat shield on your head pipe can come loose, allowing the internal heat guard to rattle against the external one.
9. Leaking Cylinder Gasket
Some Suzuki DR 650’s left the factory with stock cylinder base gaskets that developed leaks.
All gaskets develop leaks and need to be replaced eventually, but riders on the older models complained that these gaskets were leaking way too soon for it to be attributed to wear and tear.
The gasket itself was believed to be the problem due to its flimsy quality.
On the post-2003 models, Suzuki made steel-encased gaskets the standard, and the steel lamination took care of the problem.
10. Neutral Sensor Light Stopped Working
While a neutral light that won’t illuminate seems like a nominal issue, the culprit behind its failure is cause for alarm for many Suzuki DR650 owners.
The neutral light is activated by a sensor in the engine that alerts the dash light when the bike is shifted into neutral, illuminating the light in the process.
The DR650’s internal neutral sensor is fastened by two screws. In some cases, the engine vibration mentioned in the first section was enough to loosen these screws. In severe cases, these screws can fall loose inside the motor, which can cause serious engine damage, collision, lockup, fire, or death.
The reports published online show that this situation is rare, typically occurring on DR650s that are ridden hard and fast.
Still, it’s worth mentioning for any riders with neutral light issues that you should absolutely confirm your sensor screws are intact as an immediate troubleshooting step before riding your Suzuki DR650.
- Low Maintenance.
- Rides at highway speeds comfortably.
- Responsive Handling both on and off-road.
- Stock tires are dual-sport-ready.
- Looks tough and stylish.
- Fun to Ride.
- The suspension is too soft for dual-sport riding.
- The seat gets uncomfortable, especially on a bike intended for long rides.
- Stock power and performance leave some to be desired.
- Excessive vibration can loosen hardware.
“It’s a very nice bike for local trips or back and forth to work, if not too far. It has plenty of power on the interstate to keep up with traffic without taking it out to run 65 mph. And it’s perfect on groomed trails and secondary roads. I like to keep trips to less than 125 miles. It does have a fair amount of vibration; padded gloves help. And do go over it from time to time. Yes, screws will back out from the vibration. It is tall and a little heavy. All in all, I would recommend it.”
“I felt like the DR650 was the best all-around bike for me when comparing it to the KLR650 and the XR650. I absolutely love it. It reminds me of the old thumpers we used to use for hill climbing back in the days of the Yamaha TT500. It probably doesn’t have as much low-end torque, but it still has plenty after some modifications.”
“The bike has great torque and is easy to get away from if you are used to docile machines. I would suggest practicing on a DR350 or another machine before tackling the crazy power this thing has. After a few miles, you realize it’s easy to tame this Beast! I expect nothing less than a great bike for many years to come! The seat is a bit hard, but I sit on rocks when fishing, so this feels like memory foam! I may go to a local shop and have some memory foam inserted and lower the bike at Suzuki. It sits a little high and feels bouncy on shifting and stopping. I don’t plan on jumping over buses or cars, so I don’t need to play in the shocks. Overall, it’s a must-see if you are in the market for a bike. A skid plate is a must! The tires bring up a lot of rocks to the underneath of the bike on gravel or chip and seal. If you are new, trust me, go with a scooter or lower-powered bike first; this is a mid-level.”
“In my opinion, the big DR is not a great off-roader, I used to ride Dirt Bikes, and at 324 pounds, it is not a clickable bike. Yet it is very easy to maneuver on the road or even trailing. I have owned DTs, YZs, CBs, XRs, GPZs, and a VFR and have enjoyed them all. At this stage of my life, I needed ONE bike that was easy to work on, cheap to insure, dependable, and most of all, would satisfy my urge to get on a bike and go for a ride. I can do that on this bike. The torque is not mind-blowing, but it is impressive. It’s great being able to jump a curb or hop a medium (if necessary) then onto the freeway and later a nice dirt road…enough said… And if that’s what you’re into, this is a great choice. The bike is pretty darn good in stock form, but with upgrades, it’s a blast.”
“Even with a lower gear, the DR could use a little uncorking, though it’s got plenty of grunt and cruises at highway speeds with ease in stock form. I’ve owned and ridden many different bikes, from dirt bikes to Harleys, and I wanted something to run around town on and ride on trails. Thus far, I’ve only ridden in the canyons and local roads, and it’s a blast. My DR is on the lower ride setting, with fork tubes pushed up, and it’s very stable. The seat is hard, and I’ll probably swap it out for a gel seat. Otherwise, no complaints other than the push-the-button-to-stop turn signals.”
|Suzuki DR 650||$6,499|
|Kawasaki KLR 650||$6,599|