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By: Jason Giacchino
Email: offthepegs @

August 2008 - Off The Pegs

Suzuki Revamps the Z400 for 2009

LT-Z400 White
LT-Z400 White

LT-Z400 Yellow
LT-Z400 Yellow

At the time of this article’s writing (mid-July) we are roughly half way through 2008.  Even though the year still has another 6 months to go, the collective industry has already closed the book on the 2008 and is poised to drop the 2009 models on us.  Of course, for those like myself, who are perpetually seeking ways to max their credit cards, this is good news and in terms of innovation that goes beyond “Bold New Graphics,” 2009 offers some perks as well.

I don’t hide the fact that I’m most concerned with the sport/performance segment of the market, nor do I deny my particular affection toward the Suzuki Quadsport Z400.  I picked up a 2006 model two years ago and instantly fell in love with the vehicle’s (well publicized) charms.  Not that I found anything to complain about in the jetting department, the big news for 2009 is that like its bigger brother, the LTR450, the trusty Z400 is going to receive electronic fuel injection.

According to Suzuki, the decision had less to do with jetting woes (although riders who change altitudes frequently or suffer with cold starts will benefit) the main idea behind the decision to go for EFI intends to mix fuel and air delivery to the motor with far greater precision.  On the trails this should equate to quicker starting (even in cold environments) and more consistent power-delivery.

Suzuki decided to remap the electronic control module (sometimes called “the brain”) in an effort to smooth out the Z’s power band.  Taking a page from Honda’s new 700XX, Suzuki realizes that many riders use their 400 for recreational riding (rather than closed-circuit competition) and provided a platform that will maximize traction.  We can already hear the collective sigh of riders (myself included) who are willing to trade-off traction and linear power to open up the Quadsport for all its worth.  Not to worry, the machine should come equipped with a similar electronic interface as the LT450R meaning a remapped module like the Yoshimura “Cherry Bomb” will likely follow the quad’s release.   Additionally, the fuel maps will be programmable with the proper equipment (sold separately, of course).

Additionally, what would a new model release be like without a decal overhaul?  The big S went above and beyond in that department as well with a whole new styling package that turns the Z400 into an R450 clone!  The new plastics, color schemes, and styling cues have been taken directly from the LT450R.  So close in appearance are these two models now that at a press day, even experienced moto-journalists (I’m not naming names) had to check the small fender decals in an effort to be sure of which they were photographing!

The enhancements are more than skin-deep, however, as the upper and lower A-arms have been widened (935mm to 960) to enhance stability and control.  Then to counteract the tendency of a wider wheelbase slowing the steering, the Z’s engineers decreased the caster (by 2.2-degrees) and trail (by 7mm). Finally, camber has been toed inward by 1.5 degrees.  All of these mods are intended to offer a wider platform without sacrificing any of the Z’s renowned light & responsive steering.

The new Z should be hitting dealer floors in a few more weeks and that’s a good thing--my credit card just absolutely hates gathering dust.

2009 Quadsport Z400 Specs

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