Setting up a DRZ 250 for adventure riding

If a list was created that contained all the different types of motorbikes people use for adventure riding, no doubt it would have a large number of unusual entries. A DRZ 250 may not spring to mind as the most ideal choice for an adventure bike, however it has many positive attributes that make it a very capable and valid candidate for an adventure riding bike. If you are looking for a road oriented adventure bike with fists full of explosive power then the DRZ250 won't be for you, but if you are looking for a bike that is reliable, can be ridden hard all day, is lightweight making technical off-road stuff a breeze and generally a very on-road and off-road capable bike, then the DRZ250 will certainly tick all those boxes for you.

DRZ 250 pros and cons

DRZ 250 Pros

DRZ 250 Cons


Deciding whether or not to set up the DRZ 250 for adventure riding

When I purchased my DRZ 250 it was really just to use for the odd weekend fishing trip and to commute to and from work, not necessarily to be used for fully laden multi-day adventure riding. However one day I contemplated the idea of converting it into an adventure bike. The thought grew and I then did alot of research including the option of purchasing a different (larger capacity) bike with more readily available aftermarket adventure riding accessories. In the end however, since I had owned my DRZ 250 from brand new, had serviced it religiously from day one, looked after it very well, I decided to proceed setting it up for adventure riding knowing full well that it would require a lot of time, effort and fabricating. 

The finished product, was it worth it?

There was certainly a lot of hours involved to get the bike to the final completed stage, this was mainly due to lack of available accessories and having to design and fabricate many parts. Admittedly I got a bit over doing some of the time-consuming sections due to almost everything having to be fabricated, a few weekends went by with perfect weather for riding, fishing and hunting but here I was banging away in the garage working on my bike. However, once the bike was complete I was certainly glad I had put in the time because the end product was a well set up adventure bike that has certainly passed the test.  Being only 250 cc is the bike's only disadvantage after all these changes have been made. I can happily tick along at 100 km per hour (with a sports exhaust, re-jetted carb and an air box mod) but a really strong head wind can still knock you back to fifth gear at 90 km per hour. This is not a huge issue as the bike has so many other good attributes and the head wind issue doesn't happen all that often. The answer the initial question "was it worth it?" is a yes, but although I don't think I'll ever sell this bike I am in the middle of ordering parts to do a similar ADV setup to a DRZ400E. The DRZ250 is a good ADV bike once all setup, at the time of writing I have clocked up over 34,000 K's on it and had an absolute blast, but due to me doing so many K's and that DRZ250 will often struggle to keep up with some of the guys I ride with on bigger bikes I felt the need to get a second bigger capacity bike for a little extra oomph. If you are looking at this bike for a first ADV bike or learners bike, then this is absolutely perfect.

Stepping through the set up

Below is the final result of my DRZ250 followed by info on all the modifications. 

Long-range fuel tank

The DRZ 250 doesn't have a purpose-built long range fuel tank so one had to be modified to fit. The one selected for use was the Aceribis 5.8 gallon tank with full fitting instructions found here: DRZ 250 long range fuel tank

B&B bash plate

A couple of companies produce bash plates for the DRZ 250 but personally I liked the look of the B&B bash plate. A review can be found here : DRZ 250 B&B Bashplate


Searching the net high and low I couldn't find panniers for the DRZ 250 so these had to be fabricated.  For a full article click here for Alloy DRZ 250 panniers

Pack Rack

The Ventura pack rack system used is one that is specifically designed for the DRZ 250. It is solid, stable and fitted up well with the ventura pack rack mounting brackets. Click here for Ventura pack rack systems

DRZ 250 windshield and head light grille

A windshield is a back and arm saver for extended periods of open road riding, and the head light grille is vital when following other bikes off-road, or arguments with oncoming tree braches!  This is a fabricated item with the full details found here: DRZ 250 windshield and head light grille

DRZ 250 Bar raises

The DRZ 250 has a very low handlebar height from factory and forces you to lean over.  It's not a very nice position for extended open road riding so I bumped my bars up 35 mm with bar raises which made a huge difference to posture comfort. I used ARTRAX raisers as they were available at my local bike shop but any brand would be fine

Handlebar heaters

Absolutely essential for riding through New Zealand winter rain and snow.  The ones installed are not the heated grips as I don't like the fact they increase grip diameter, these ones are internal handlebar heaters with high and low settings.  Worth every cent on those cold days!

White plastics

I didn't really mind the factory yellow but once I put on the long-range fuel tank (only available in the colour white) the bike looked a bit fruit salady with yellow guards, white tank, and a blue seat.  A quick phone call to my local Suzuki shop and white plastics were ordered.  The only part that couldn't be ordered in white was the head light surround for the K7 model (the one with the larger headlight).  A white one can be sourced for the off road version with the small headlight but this light is very inefficient for adventure riding.  I took my yellow headlight surround into a local spray painter and had it colour matched to the other white plastics.

Rifle and rod rack

A lot of time effort and research went in to developing this rack and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.  The panniers were also fabricated to accommodate for this rifle/rod rack so in the case of a spill there is some protection.  Full information can be found here: Motorbike rifle rack

Performance exhaust full system

A performance exhaust is a nice easy way to ensure you get a comfortable 100kmph crusing speed. More info can be found here at DRZ 250 performance exhaust system.

Origional exhaust system above, new Cycleworks performance exhaust system below

AirHawk seat cushion

This thing is simply brilliant.  The seat on the DRZ 250 is pretty rough for long trips due to being so firm, but firing on an AirHawk completely removes this issue allowing a DRZ 250 to be ridden for hours on end

Author of this article: ADVGD(366)