Much like the overall top-selling motorcycle of 2018, Suzuki's DR650SE proved that you don't need high-end technology to be popular with the Kiwi motoring masses.
Suzuki’s venerable DR650SE has proven that when it comes to the adventure class of motorcycles, you don’t need the latest and greatest technology to be a top selling motorcycle.
The Suzuki DR650 (priced from $8,995) came in as the 11th best selling motorcycle of 2018, with the 82 registrations noted by industry body the Motoring Industry Association (MIA) making the admittedly ageing Suzuki adventure platform the country's top selling adventure model.
Not only that, the DR650 was well and truly ahead of the competition in terms of sales, with over twice as many new bikes hitting the road than its most direct competitor – Kawasaki's KLR650 (32) while the only other adventure class machine in the Top 20 being Royal Enfield's Himalayan.
This follows a similar pattern as to the rest of the top-selling bikes of 2018, with Kiwi motorcycle buyers spending their hard earned dollar on less expensive (and predominantly Learner Approved) motorcycles. The surprise number one seller of 2018 being Suzuki’s $3,495 GSX150F.
But why are Kiwis shunning more modern motorcycles for cheaper, less tech heavy models?
“The DR650 is successful based on a combination of factors with value pricing and simple reliable product being a key influencing factor for our customers, says Suzuki General Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Simon Meade. Of equal importance is the off-road capability when compared to other competitors. The DR650 will easily run all day at our open road speed limits and still be agile enough to take on secondary roads, forest trails and even some reasonably challenging trails.”
When asked why the humble DR650SE outsold much more technologically advanced adventure motorcycles, Meade believes there is a straightforward reason for the DR650’s popularity.
“Kiwis like the idea of being able to go off-road, away from the bitumen. The problem is that many of the larger adventure bikes have a higher seat height and weigh in excess of 200kgs and whilst they can go off-road you need to be very skilled to keep them upright. When you consider the bulk and size of larger adventure bikes along with the cost to repair in case of an accident many customers look at the DR650s simplicity and rugged capability and find it ticks almost all of the boxes.”
The DR650 was initially released in 1990 as the replacement for the DR600, making it one of the oldest bikes on sale in the New Zealand market. While it has undergone multiple minor updates over its near 30-year lifespan, the DR650 remains an incredibly simple motorcycle powered by a 34kw (46hp) 644cc 4-stroke SOHC single cylinder with analogue an speedometer/odometer the only instrumentation included from the factory.
The Top 5 Adventure Bikes of 2018
1st - Suzuki DR650SE (82)
2nd - Royal Enfield Himalayan (49)
3rd - BMW R 1200 GS (46)
4th - Honda CRF1000 Africa Twin (42)
5th - Kawasaki KLR650 (32) and KTM 690 Enduro (32)