2009 Suzuki QuadSport Z400 Review

Suzuki makes major changes to the Z

Story by Jeff Vanasdal, Photography by Josh Petry, Dec. 24, 2008

Suzuki answered both the needs of average trail riders and competitive racers in one swift move with the introduction of the Z400 in 2002. With its innovative water-cooled 4-stroke engine, lightweight design, and aggressive styling, the Z could be easily modified into a competitive machine.

Whether racing motocross or trails it was the machine to have. Team Suzuki rider ‘Digger’ Doug Gust proved this to be true by winning the ATVA Pro Class two years in a row, making the Z400 the first 4-stoke ATV to bring home a championship. The Z400 continued to lead the sport class for many years before finding itself outdated. With numerous other factories, including Suzuki, manufacturing bigger displacement machines, it became harder to keep up with the new 450cc ATVs that were born and raised on the track. Despite Suzuki’s addition of the R450 to its family of sport ATVs, the Z400 remained a contender in its own class.

Here's the author's modified 2003 Z400.

From its birth in 2002 until 2008, the Z400 hadn’t seen any changes besides an occasional face-lift of new graphics and chiropractic work on the frame (the frames tended to stress crack). Although the Z400 was still arguably the top 400cc sport ATV, Suzuki chose to make major changes. For 2009 the Z400 not only adopted its looks from Suzuki’s race-inspired R450 but also inherited many of its traits. The Z400 was handed down a fuel injection system, new chassis, as well as numerous suspension and engine upgrades.

The 2009 Z400 resembles Suzuki's race-inspired R450.

Perhaps the most obvious change is the restyled plastic. The front of the Z400 looks very similar to the R450. The plastic looks so similar, in fact, that it is easy to confuse the Z400 at first glance for an R450! Aside from giving the Z400 a new look, Suzuki solved many problems that annoyed owners for years by changing the plastic. One problem that faced owners of older models was that the brackets that held on the plastic were prone to breaking. This problem was solved by reinforcing the brackets, and in some cases, moving the brackets to other locations on the frame.

This quad has more than enough power to catch a little air.
Throttle response is much improved and it's very easy to get the front wheels off the ground.

Another problem Suzuki faced on the Z400 was that the gas tank shrouds would often come apart where the seams met up. The Z now features a one-piece gas tank shroud. By receiving the R450 plastic styling, the headlight was also moved. The headlight is now simple to remove and doesn’t leave any gaping holes in the plastic like it did on the older models.

Thanks to the new fuel injection system, the power that the Z400 now has is much smoother. No jetting is needed and starting is much easier and consistent, no matter the altitude. The Z400 has always been known as having a smooth throttle response, but with the fuel injector the power will no longer cut out if you accidently pin the throttle. It will adjust how much fuel and air is needed to create the right mixture.

It is very easy to lift the front end off the ground for getting over obstacles or wheeling though whoops. Although there is enough power to keep up with the stock 450s in the woods, when it came to the straight sections the 450s will still pull away. One thing I noticed is that the new Z likes to drink up the gas so always make sure you’re topped up before going on a long ride, but if you do get low there is a convenient ‘low’ fuel light that comes on to give you a heads up.

Handling on the ‘09 Z400 is noticeably better than on older models. New A-arms and new caster and camber settings make the front end one-inch wider than the 2008 version. While cornering I felt like the added width of the front end made the Z not want to roll as much, which gives you more confidence to make faster turns.

Another change on the ’09 Z400 is the riding stance. The handlebars have been moved forward and the pegs were moved down 5mm. This makes the center of gravity lower and contributed to the faster cornering. The pegs are now 46mm wide, which is identical to the ones on the R450 and creates a larger base to stand up on. Fortunately, the ‘09 Z still features the traditional T-shaped seat, which I have always been a fan of. I find the T-shaped seat helps soften the impact of bumps while leaning side to side.

Landing jumps isn't so hard on the body thanks to a plusher suspension.

Suspension seems a little plusher than on prior models. I test rode the new Z400 for a couple of days at the Badlands in Attica, Ind., which features a variety of terrain including woods, motocross, and sand dunes. I could really notice how well the shocks worked while going though the wind blown whooped out section they had leading back to the dunes. I found that the shocks had just enough give while sailing off some of the natural jumps that lead down into the deep sand bowls. After logging plenty of miles, I feel that the shocks on the ’09 Z400 are on par with many of the stock 450s.

The 2009 Z400 is a blast to ride and should be on your short list if you aren't looking for a hard-core race machine.

Getting to test out the new Suzuki LT-Z400 really stirred up some memories. The Z400 was the first quad I’ve ever raced. My dad bought one for each of us the first year they came out and I can remember blazing through the trails with my buddies and their dads and hitting up all the GNCCs we could possibly get to. I could ride the Z400 with my buddies during the week and take it to the races on the weekend. It was and still remains an all-around great machine and the changes that Suzuki made for 2009 only serve to enhance it.

Whether you are an average trail rider or like to hit up the occasional race, I would suggest you take a serious look the fuel injected 2009 Suzuki QuadSport Z400.

Jeff Vanasdal’s gear provided by Shift Racing.

2009 Suzuki QuadSport Z400 Specs
Engine Cooling 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Bore x Stroke 90.0 mm (3.543 in) x 62.6 mm (2.465 in)
Compression Ratio 11.3:1
Fuel Delivery Fuel Injection, 36 mm
Lubrication Dry Sump
Ignition Electronic ignition (CDI)
Transmission 5-forward and 1-reverse
Final Drive RK 520SMOZ10S, 96 links
Overall Width 1190 mm (46.9 in)
Overall Length 1830mm (72.0 in)
Overall Height 1145mm (45.1 in)
Seat Height 810 mm (31.9 in)
Ground Clearance 265 mm (10.4 in)
Wheelbase 1245 mm (49.0 in)
Curb Weight 193 kg (425 lbs)
Front Suspension Independent, double wishbone, coil spring, oil damped
Rear Suspension Swingarm type, coil spring, oil damped
Front Brakes Disc brake, twin
Rear Brake Disc brake
Front Tires AT22 × 7 R10 tubeless
Rear Tires AT20 × 10 R 9 tubeless
Fuel Tank Capacity 2.5 US Gal.
Color Yellow, White
MSRP $6,199

Related Reading
2009 Suzuki QuadSport Z400 Preview
2007 Suzuki Quadracer R450 Review

 
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