Revitalizing a forgotten soldier
DR DONE RIGHT
Suzuki’s DR650 is Play-Doh. It’s been in the background of Suzuki’s line for almost 30 years without headlines, awards or acclaim. The
problem is that no one really knows what it is. It can’t be called a dual-sport bike, not with lightweight dirt bikes like KTMs and Betas usurping
that title. It’s not an adventure bike because of its limited range, and it’s
no commuter without a windscreen or storage. Yet it survives, year after
year. Why? Because it’s like putty. You can take it and form it into anything you like. Last year we gained new respect for the DR after we rolled
one between our fingers and molded it into an inexpensive adventure
bike. Now, we have a reincarnated, 17-year-old dual-purpose bike built
by the guys at Seat Concepts. The DR continues to change shape right
before our eyes.
A DUAL-SOMETHING BIKE
If this bike were a human, it would be getting its driver’s license about
now. It was born in 1997 when there was such a thing as a dual-purpose
bike. That was the term we used for big bikes that could go off-road in
the day. When more dirt-oriented machines arrived, the term dual-sport
was coined simply because they were more “sporty.” Now the dual-purpose term is back to describe bikes like the Suzuki and the short-lived Husqvarna Terra. They might not be capable of winning a National
Enduro, but somehow that’s liberating. It takes the pressure off the owner
who just wants to go off-road exploring. And that’s where Seat Concepts
went with this particular bike.
It was originally purchased for $1500 and used to prototype an aftermarket seat. Then it sat in the back of the shop until someone looked at it
long enough to see something more than a dusty old bike. Then the project began. The first order of business was to come up with a goal. It was
decided to push the DR toward the dirt. It’s possible to do that without
compromising any of its street abilities, whereas going in the other direction is much more difficult. It doesn’t take long to identify the bike’s shortcomings, which are glaring enough to be easy to address.