From the July/August 2012 issue of ATV Rider Magazine.
Have you ever seen that Geico commercial with the little piggy? The one that screams, “Wheeeee!! Wheeeee!!! Wheeeee! ” while he is railing down the zip line. That’s how I feel as I’m sitting saddle on Suzuki’s QuadSport Z400. It’s not a fire-breathing beast like its LT-Race-ready brethren, but it’s my favorite sport ATV still readily available from Suzuki. The Lone QuadSport, as we’ve come to call it around the office, is one of the best trail-ready ATVs ever built. Yes, a bold statement. I even laughed to myself as I wrote it because I know that many high-performance owners just swallowed their gum, raised their fists in the air and cursed my name. It’s simple really; the Suzuki QuadSport Z400 offers a peppy, yet ultra-reliable powerplant that’s matched with a lightweight chassis that’s flickable, fun and wheelies like a dream! It also boasts a respectably low $7K price tag and a 45.9-inch width that’s trail-ready in every time zone. So let’s smoke that piggy, load the rig and head out to the trails.
Snappy, Smooth Power
The QuadSport Z400 fires up, in any gear, with the push of a button. Its liquid-cooled, 398cc, four-stroke single is electronically fuel-injected (EFI), and starts right up in just about any altitude or temperature. The EFI is run via an ECU brain that tells the Keihin fuel injector to pump fuel to its 36mm throttle body. The ECU monitors throttle position, engine rpm and intake air pressure to determine optimum fueling and ignition timing and selects from one of four injection mappings ensuring proper carburetion under any conditions.
A reliable, five-speed transmission is operated by an easy-pull clutch lever, which gets the power to the rear wheels. Plus, the Z has reverse, which is a very valuable asset on tight trails. Pull in the clutch, twist the knob on the right-hand side of the front fender and you’re backing into your riding partner. We rarely needed to use the short first gear. We took off from second gear at times, and used it to lug around at slower speeds. Its top speed of 50-plus isn’t overwhelming, but it will still get you down fire roads in a hurry. Install an aftermarket exhaust, remove the airbox lid and put in a more open filter and you will see the numbers increase a few digits.
The fuel injection provided the QuadSport with very smooth power delivery through the ranges. The throttle is easy on the thumb on longer rides, and the throttle response is excellent! If you stabbed the throttle, the front end would almost immediately pop up. If you stay smooth on the throttle, the front end won’t lift, and you’re off in a hurry. The first three gears have a surprising amount of torque and transition smoothly through fifth gear. That poppy front end makes it easy hopping over tree stumps and carrying the front end through rough terrain.
Suspension, Treads And Stopping Power
The QuadSport provides a plush ride all around. Up front is double A-arm suspension that offers 8.5 inches of wheel travel. It is equipped with dual-remote, piggyback-reservoir shocks that are adjustable for preload and compression. It’s matched at the rear by a machined aluminum swingarm and linkage-type suspension that offers 9.1 inches of travel and a fully adjustable shock.
The Z400 is precise and predictable on the trails. The suspension soaks up every bump, jump and choppy terrain. You can feel the rough obstacles through the suspension, but it never seemed to be too harsh of a ride. Although it weighs over 400 pounds, the Z400 has a lightweight feel that makes it easy to maneuver all day long. It also flies straight and flicks around in the air.
Riding on the suspension is a lightweight aluminum wheel and Dunlop radial setup. The fronts are 10x5.5, and the rears are a 9x8-inch setup. The tires are tough and hooked up well in the hardpack and loose sandy trails.
Braking power on the Z400 matches the chassis well. In the front are 6.9-inch discs, and in the rear is an 8.6-inch single disc. The front brake lever has an adjustable position mechanism, and the single rear disc brake shares the same caliper body as the QuadRacer 450. The brakes are awesome on downhill descents. Some sport machines have touchy braking, but the Z’s seemed to have a good feel when you needed it.
Comfort In Style
In years past the QuadSport Z400 looked like a tame entry-level ride, and the high-performance 450 class had a much cooler, sleek and refined finish. In 2009, when the Z was overhauled and outfitted with EFI and a plusher ride, Suzuki finished it with some curb appeal. The Z was hooked up with a QuadRacer smile. Straight-cut fenders are matched with an aggressive-looking front nosepiece with a detachable 40-watt halogen headlight.
Ergonomics are comfortable for slow trail rides, but still feel spot-on for the aggressive rider. The T-design seat is comfortable, and the front fenders are moved forward to give the Z rider ample legroom to lean off in corners. The extra-wide 46mm footpegs also provide a stable base to position your body during cornering. The center-mounted handlebar dash has indicator lights for reverse (woo!), neutral, fuel and engine temp warning.
Unfortunately, the QuadSport is not available in Suzuki yellow for 2012. An all-white version and the new teal/greenish colorways take its place. We’ll openly complain about this until the Big Bird plastics are returned.
Aside from the lack of yellow plastics, there are few complaints with Suzuki’s Lone QuadSport. Although the power is not in the high-performance range, it is still a blast on the trails! The suspension is plush, and it is a cool experience pulling up on the front end and popping over bumps, rocks and tree stumps. If Suzuki bumped up the ponies and relabeled it as a QuadSport 450 in 2013, it would contend in the trail-ready 450 class. Food for thought?
2012 Suzuki Z400
MSRP: $7,099 Engine
Type: 4-stroke, single-cylinder, DOHC
Bore x stroke: 90.0x62.6mm
Fuel system: Fuel injection with 36mm throttle body
Starting system: Electric
Drive system: 520 chain
Transmission: 5-speed with reverse
Front: Dual A-arms/8.5 in.
Rear: Swingarm/9.1 in.
Front: Dual discs
Rear: Single disc
Wheelbase: 49.0 in.
Claimed curb weight: 425 lb
Ground clearance: 10.4 in.
Length/width/height: 72.0/46.9/31.9 in.
Seat height: 31.9 in.
Fuel capacity: 2.4 gal.
Lighting: Detachable 40-watt halogen headlight
Colors: Green/black, white
2012 Suzuki Z400
If you stay away from straightaways, it's as capable as any trail-ready 450
The small cc numbers will scare away the intermediate and pro riders
Fun, fun, fun that's low cost and easy to ride!