Building Up A Suzuki DR-Z400SM Motorcycle

WCC Suzuki DRZ Motorcycle Assembly

Supermoto Crate

During the purchase of a new motorcycle, many customers question the “setup” charge that’s detailed on the bill of sale. What exactly does “setup” entail. Unlike automobiles that arrive at the dealership ready to roll, many motorcycles travel across the globe before arriving at their final destination. Crating these motorcycles not only reduces the amount of space they occupy during shipping, but a well built crate can also help to protect them from damage during transit.

However, there are some downsides to crating new motorcycles

  • Before they can hit the showroom someone has to assemble them, and this takes qualified mechanics and time
  • If damage to the vehicle does occur, it can often be hidden under the crate covering
  • As most crates are disposable, they need to be handled and disposed of. In the past, most crates were made of wood, but over the last 15 years, most OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have transitioned to the use of metal crates (and while they can be recycled, they still take up space)
  • Most crates are made quickly, and often contain sharp edges that can injure the mechanics (if they aren’t careful)

Depending on the make and model, some bikes require very little work to make them ready for the showroom, while others can take hours to get ready. In most cases, larger bikes with saddlebags, body guards, and fairings take the most time to put together, but there are some small bikes that also require lots of time to complete the final assembly (the Yamaha V-Star 250 comes to mind). Other items that impact the prep time include the familiarity of the technicians with those models, damage found during assembly, and missing components (which unfortunately, is quite a common problem).

At Woods Cycle Country, we take images of each motorcycle prior to uncrating it. The manufacturer’s have very strict controls on paying for “hidden damage” so by photographing the condition of the crate prior to opening it, if we do find any problems then we have the documentation to go back and prove to the OEM that the crate arrived in good condition and that we weren’t the cause of the damage. Dealing with crate damage is a major efficiency killer, and with brand new models it can be problematic because the manufacturers don’t always have the parts in stock to complete any needed repairs.

After a motorcycle is built, the mechanic completes a checklist marking off all the assembly chores as having been completed. At this time, we will also run the VIN number to check for any recall work that needs to be performed. If there are any open recalls, then that work is scheduled through the Service Department.

The other question that has come up is getting the motorcycle ready for the street. Most dealers have separated assembly and PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) into two separate jobs. Many motorcycles end up on display for months (or in the worst case years) prior to being sold. If the gas tank was filled up and the battery activated during assembly, then a long delay prior to sale could result in stale fuel and a dead battery. It’s better to complete PDI when the bike is actually sold. It takes a little longer, but the customer will receive a better product and have a better owner experience.

Recently, the Duke of DC and Rollick came by Woods Cycle Country to document the assembly process of a new Suzuki DR-Z400SM. If you’d like to check out that process, here’s the video. Cook some popcorn and enjoy the show!


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