2018 Suzuki DR650SE – The modern retro motorcycle

Suzuki DR650SE

One of the most affordable new motorcycles in 2018 is the venerable Suzuki DR650 but is it special? The DR650SE is a dual purpose motorcycle with on and off road capability. It’s essentially like the modern day SUV or a ‘Trail Rated’ Jeep  for example.  The DR650 has been on sale for since 1992 nearly 30 years in basically the same design and specification. The latest model is called the Suzuki DR650SE and priced under $9000 AUD on the road.

It’s key selling points are that it is a trail bike and that it is LAMS or learner compatible. There only real competitor to the Suzuki DR650 is the Kawasaki KLR650 is priced at  $9449 also at a on road price. The slightly lower pricing in one factor the Suzuki is my choice and that the current KLR looks a little silly with wicked witch claw front mud guard.

In terms of design and looks the DR650SE is pure trail bike design from the late 1980’s. It is such the stereotypical design used by many Japanese and other manufacturers over the years it could be called  iconic as Suzuki has not changed the design. You could arguably call it a retro motorcycle. Since retro is the current ‘in trend’ in motorcycles this Suzuki is good place to start.

Mechanically the DR650SE is simple even by modern motorcycle standards. The most retro part is the carburettors no EFI here!  Other retro parts include  the single disc brakes and 5 speed gearbox. It’s old age means that there are plenty of aftermarket parts and problem solving if you encounter any problems. The alloy rear swing arm is one of the more modern parts on the DR650. The ride height may be a concern to normal size people, so there is a ride height reduction kit from 885 to 845mm.  Critically the lack of any changes also imply the lack of real competition from any other manufacturer. Of course the imminent emission regulations will mean that the DR650 will be discontinued or revised.

Is the DR650SE a special motorcycle? Yes it’s been around for decades essentially unchanged which means it’s a good thing and most of all  any rider can buy it and ride away to virtually anywhere they want.

Suzuki DR650SE Key Specifications (2018)
Engine: Single cylinder SOHC 
Capacity: 644cc
Power/Torque: 34Kw @ 6400RPM 50Nm @ 4650RPM
Gearbox: 5 speed
Kerb Weight: 166Kg Approx
Performance: 0-100kph NA seconds Approx
Max Speed NA Kph Approx
Fuel Economy: 13 litre fuel tank
Approx 4 litres per 100km
Seat height: 885mm
Dimensions: L2255 x W865 x H1195
Recommended Retail Price: $8,990 (2018) On road

Suzuki GSX-R125

Suzuki GSX-R125

What is happening to Suzuki Motorcycles? When I saw the press for Australia I did a double take: it does read GSX-R125! all new for 2018. Welcome to the first 125cc learner legal GSX-R super sports – well so the branding indicates.

In terms of looks the GSX-R125 is cutting edge, sort of looks like the existing GSX-R bikes and perhaps a hint at the next generation styling? It’s not challenging to look or does it really offend and it is ‘sporty’ to look at. It’s primary competitors in the Yamaha YZF-R125 which is one of the best looking 125cc and immediately evokes sports motorcycle which unfortunately the GSX-R125 doesn’t match. The KTM RC125 is an even better interpretation of the 125cc super sports motorcycle as it does’t look like any other thanks to high quality parts, properly designed muffler and a composite rear swing arm.

In terms of technology, specifications and performance the GSX-R125 is not exactly brimming with obvious tech but it certainly has features like EFI, keyless ignition, full digital instrument panel, LED lighting and even ABS. It is missing the alloy frame and 3 cylinders of regular GSX-Rs which is disappointing but it’s on road pricing is the main feature that makes all this forgivable. The Suzuki GSX-R125 is priced $3,990 including on road costs! No other motorcycle in the class has these features.

In the end the Suzuki GSX-R125 is a great entry into the 125cc class. It also means it is LAMS approved for learner riders. Suzuki boasts that it is the best performing 125cc in the class, thanks to it’s power to weight ratio but it’s only by a tiny margin. However I think they should have gone a little further with the exterior fairing. The key selling point is the price, for a under $4000 AUD you can have a brand new Suzuki in your garage.

Suzuki GSX-R125 Key Specifications
Engine: 1 cylinder 4V DOHC (EFI)
Capacity: 125cc
Power/Torque: 11Kw @10000 RPM 11 Nm @8000 RPM  
Gearbox: 6 speed
Kerb Weight: 134Kg Approx
Performance: 0-100kph NA seconds Approx
Max Speed NA Kph Approx
Fuel Economy: 11 litre fuel tank
Seat height: 795 mm
Dimensions: L2000 x W700 x H1070 mm
Recommended Retail Price: $3,990 (2018)