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SUZUKI DR650 V YAMAHA XTZ660 TENERE | Bike Reviews | Features

We take a look at a modified Suzuki DR650 and a Tenere that had been tweaked slightly by Yamaha Australia to see how they shaped up.

Adventure bikes are chosen for a variety of reasons but, usually, they will be very different reasons from those you’d use when buying an enduro weapon.

Most newbies will go for single-cylinder dualsport bikes for their first ADV trips before deciding whether they should drop a bundle on the latest Euro twin.

But how far do you go with farkling an entry-level ADV before hitting the big time? Even at this end of the market there’s a bunch of mods on the market so we took a modified Suzuki DR650 and a Tenere that had been tweaked slightly by Yamaha Australia for an easy day run through Morton National Park and Yerriyong State Forest south of Sydney to see how they shaped up.

Compare The Pair

Both bikes are singles with 21-inch fronts and 17-inch rears. The Suzy scores a big tick for the cost conscious with an ask of $8090, against $13,999 for the Tenere, plus on-road costs.

Engine-wise it’s 650 vs 660 so close enough there, but the Suzuki is an old school air/oil cooled unit while the Yamaha sports liquid water cooling, but both have four-valve heads. Both sport five-speed transmissions.

The Suzuki has a smaller tank at 13 litres, against 23 for the Yamaha and, while front discs only vary by 8mm in diameter they vary in number by a factor of two, with the Yam having a heavier 298mm twin-disc set up.

The Yamaha has an adventure-style fairing and screen but all Suzuki fits to the DR is the common variety headlight shroud. Telescopic forks are common to both as are single shock rear ends, with 259mm of travel at each end of the Suzuki and 210/200mm for the Yamaha and, for some people, that puts the Suzuki in front.

The Suzy seat is lower at 885 against the 896mm of the Yammy but the Suzuki wins hands down when it comes to the scales at 166kg against 209kg wet. Dry weights are 147 and 190 kilos.

Ride Impression

So it’s time to compare what the two are like to ride and see where they differ. Mitch and I are both tall at over 6 foot in the old money and I found the riding position of the Suzuki suited me much better. I tend to sit further back on the seat and the stepped perch of the Tenere jammed me in. I also wasn’t a fan of the angle that put my knees in but Mitch was quite comfortable with it.

The fairing on the Tenere did a great job on the open road of cutting wind blast and noise, something I’d never really noticed on the DR until getting off the Tenere.

Open the throttle on the DR and you are rewarded with a solid shove but the Tenere is more of a sharp slap, the response is slightly quicker and stronger, which is to be expected from a more modern design and EFI.

On a rocky, chopped up track I found the throttle control just that little easier with the Suzuki but in the nice, slidey type corners the Yam’s back end was easier to break loose with a burst of throttle even though it had full knobbies.

The suspension of both bikes handled all we threw at them on the day as both had been altered, with Shock Treatment attending to the Suzuki and Teknik doing the deed for the Yamaha. Mitch, being younger and sillier than I am, tried getting some air over a few nicely placed erosion mounds and reported no problems on the landings with either machine.


When it’s all said and done either bike should be suitable for a first timer, although the DR650SE does require a bit more in the way of preparation with aftermarket parts, some of which you already get with the XTZ660 Tenere, but it does give you an excuse to fiddle.

I liked both bikes and would be hard pressed to choose. It all comes down to personal preferences and available money in the kitty. For varied and personal reasons different riders will be happy with either one.

What was done

The modifications made to the DR650SE were a 30-litre Safari tank with matching Safari fairing, Force bashplate, Barkbusters with LED blinkers and VPS wind deflectors, Vince Strang footpeg lowering kit, Mitas E07 Dual Sport tyres, Seat Concepts seat, ‘bar risers, 44-tooth rear sprocket (up 2 from standard) Staintune full systeme and Shock Treatment suspension.
The XTZ660 Tenere was fitted with a Barrett exhaust, Teknik suspension, B & B bashplate and Pivotpegz.