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By: Jason Giacchino

2009 Suzuki LTZ400 Quadsport
The Z Gets its First Full Makeover

LT-Z400 Yellow
LT-Z400 Yellow
We'll come right out and say it--we've always been partial to the Suzuki LTZ400 and with good reason. After all, if we could somehow go back in time to around the turn of the century, we would discover a very interesting series of developments in the world of sport/ performance ATVs. After a decade of having absolutely nothing to do with quad racing at the OEM level, suddenly the manufacturers began testing the proverbial waters once more. Beginning with Honda's success in the TRX400EX, models like the Bombardier DS650 and Yamaha Raptor 660 began trickling into recreation areas and racetracks all across the nation. Riding on this wave of enthusiasm, 2002 would find but another sport performance entry (released as an early '03) in the Suzuki LTZ 400 Quadsport; a name derived from the 230cc sport four-stroke from a decade earlier.

In truth, it wasn't much of a gamble for Suzuki as the motor platform was adopted from their popular DRZ400 motorcycle line. Proven durable, reliable, and plenty quick (with the potential for near unlimited hop-ups) it was a sure-fire choice to the ATV scene. Consumers were delighted to finally receive a machine with current technology and sport intention right from the factory and showed their approval with their checkbooks. Before long tracks and riding parks were littered with LTZ400s (and their clone, the Kawasaki KFX400), aftermarket and hop-up companies began producing boat loads of performance modifications, and a cult following of Internet users began to assemble. Throughout the years Suzuki has made modest improvements to the model upgrading such items as the stock suspension package and various odds and ends (among which includes the ever-popular bold new graphics treatment) while focusing the lion's share of their R&D efforts on the very quad credited as having been inspired directly from the Z, the LTR450.

What's New

For 2009, the Z400 finally receives her first major overhaul and while some may say that it was long in coming, hordes of loyal enthusiasts wonder why Suzuki would bother to fix what isn't broken. The first observation to report from a physical standpoint on the new model is that Suzuki's engineers obviously had the LTR450 in mind for inspiration when laying out the look of the new Z. It's nearly identical both in photos and in person. Our testers joked that the easiest way to determine which is which is to glance at the muffler as the 450 is center-mounted while the 400 is askew to the right. Other visual cues include the shape and position of the front shock reservoirs and a handy little sticker on the front left fender to indicate the model.

However, after spending some time on the new Z, the changes undeniably run far more than skin deep. Beginning with the machine's stance, Suzuki addressed criticisms that the LTZ400 was a bit tall and narrow. By moving the bars 5mm lower and 10mm forward, the 2009 feels much more confidence inspiring like its bigger brother. The caster, camber, wheelbase, and width of the front end have been changed as well (to add an inch total over 2008). By cutting a new taper on the rear axel, Suzuki was able to stiffen up the rear as well. The suspension is still fully adjustable/ piggyback reservoir equipped (8.5 inches front travel/ 9.1 in the rear) although even these units have gotten a makeover. In an effort to make the travel curve more progressive (see: stiffer for big hits) the shocks were "revalved" and the springs swapped out. Suzuki claims the new damping curve will allow the suspension to react to smaller bumps more sensitively then ramp up to stiffen when the shock suddenly finds itself in trouble.

The chassis was modified as well to coincide with the newly more aggressive theme as Suzuki increased tube thickness at many of the structural members to increase rigidity and durability. The rear master cylinder and brake pivot have been relocated for the sake of handling perfection. Even the seat loses some of its trail-friendly comfort in an effort to mimic the shape and feel of the LTR450 (note the T-shaped rear section: a staple among the Quadracer heritage). Fortunately the foam is still a slightly softer stock than that used on the LTR and one all-day epic is all it will take for you to thank Suzuki for the consideration! Finally, the Z400 now receives the adjustable front brake lever like the 450R.

The engine wasn't overlooked either and perhaps the biggest news is that the Z400 receives the fuel injection system that the LTR has boasted since its introduction in 2006. It also receives a new cam profile, altered intake port (and cam timing), and redesigned exhaust pipe/ muffler combo. All of these changes are said to have been implemented to increase the low-to mid range of the powerband as torque has become one of the most craved elements of the modern four-stroke race engine.

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