Kids today are inundated by technology we as adults couldn’t even dream of having at our disposal 30 years ago.
Thankfully nothing matches the excitement in my son’s eyes as when I tell him we are going dirt bike riding. The first dirt bike in the garage for him was a PW50, but now he is outgrowing the ultra-low seat height and is now ready to go a little bigger, add gears and use a rear brake pedal. On the scene rolls the 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70. ($1799)
The DR-Z70 is powered by a 67cc, four-stroke engine and starting the little DR-Z engine is insanely easy thanks to the electric start. There is a kick starter as backup in case the battery for some unforeseeable reason dies, ensuring a day of riding isn’t ruined. Once the engine is running, power is delivered to the 10-inch wheels via an automatic clutch and a three-speed transmission. The overall size of the DR-Z70 matches a Honda CRF50 and a Yamaha TT-R50. Because the DR-Z70 meets CARB emissions regulations it is green sticker eligible in California and comes with a spark arrestor-equipped muffler. The quiet exhaust note from the DR-Z70 is non offensive, and if it is, motorcycles might not be your thing! To make sure the young ones are safe when learning the throttle features an adjustable stop, keeping junior from going too fast, too early. An adjustable front brake lever also fits various sized hands. To absorb the bumps, the inverted front forks feature 3.8 inches of travel and out back a single shock handles the rear wheel.
Out In The Dirt
Starting the DR-Z70 couldn’t be easier thanks to a choke conveniently located at the base of the handlebars and the sweet electric start. As with most air-cooled motorcycles, the DR-Z70 takes a few minutes to warm up and likes to be at full operating temperature to idle consistently. The auto clutch is very smooth and the option to limit the amount of throttle available to young and learning riders is great. The power delivery is very smooth as is the engagement of the auto clutch, allowing riders to concentrate on the joys of riding. Shifting between gears takes substantial effort so very young riders probably won’t be able move the shift lever easily to select gears. The electric start does not work unless the bike is in neutral.
The hot setup for my son who is nearly six-years-old was to leave the bike in second gear and use the throttle limiter to ensure the speeds where kept under control. Using first gear was too slow to keep good balance and the higher rpms meant the throttle response was too jerky when rolling on and off the throttle. The engine provides plenty of torque to take off in second gear. If using training wheels first gear would be a good way to guarantee speeds didn’t get too fast. The throttle limiter screw is an essential tool to keep kids safe until they master throttle control.
Thanks to the low 22-inch seat height, small riders can confidently come to a stop without tipping over. I had my son practice using the foot brake for a while before letting him go free since his previous experience was on a PW50, which only has hand brakes. A foot brake is nice because some kids don’t have the strength to pull handbrakes hard enough to provide adequate stopping power.
Electric start may seem silly on a small little bike like this until you use it a few times, then you and your kids learn to love it. Overall the Suzuki DR-70 is a great bike for kids transitioning from a smaller bike or even kids learning to ride for the first time. Features like electric start, auto clutch, throttle limiter and a foot brake make learning easier and much more fun.
Carving turns on the 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70.
A throttle limiter screw is key for teaching beginning riders.
Electric start is an awesome feature on the 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70.
Smooth power makes riding the 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70 easy.
The 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70 is powered by a 67cc four-stroke engine.
The 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70 features an auto clutch and a three-speed transmission.
The 2016 Suzuki DR-Z70 in action.