We took our reigning 650cc dual-sport champion, the Kawasaki KLR650 and pitted it against a challenger from the opposite end of the DS spectrum, Suzuki’s DR650SE. Check out how the 2008 Suzuki DR650 DS did in our 2008 650 Dual-Sport Challenge.
- Suzuki's DR650 turned out to be a competent dirt machine. We would rather spend time riding trails on the 'Zook than pounding pavement - the opposite of the Kawasaki.
- As far as where it stands in the Suzuki lineup, it's more like riding an oversized DR-Z400 than comparing to the V-Strom, and that's something we consider a positive.
- Both days of testing at the East Fork Rock OHV area were filled with dirt and gravel roads, quad track, whoops and rocks.
- We took a visit to the ice caves in Central Oregon with these two dual-sports.
- Standing up on either bike isn't much fun, but the DR is narrower between the knees and gives more reason to get up on the rubber-mounted pegs with its off-road potential.
- The last time B. Madson tested a Suzuki dual-sport he crashed the beans out of a DR200. He was still willing to take the 650 into more off-road than he was with Kawasaki's beast.
- A 290mm front disc and two-piston caliper made the Suzuki a definite favorite for one of our testers.
- Twisty roads were the Suzuki's domain so long as the speeds were lower. Once the pace picked up the Kawi makes up ground with its stability and smoothness.
- There is no wind protection whatsoever on the DR. Go fast, get blown around; it's that simple.
- Both bikes have five-speed transmissions and comparing shifting is a wash.