Monday, December 17

THE BANDIT MARCHES ON

The current big Bandit displaces 1255cc and provides more bang
for your buck than any other large capacity motorcycle on the market
IN AN age of built-in obsolecence, Suzuki’s GSF1250 Bandit stands out. Although the biggest Bandit came in for a thorough make-over for the 2007 model year, with a new frame and engine, that was due to the eco-Nazis in Europe who didn’t like the smell of the old GSX-R1100-derived 1157cc air/oil-cooled motor’s exhaust. If it wasn’t for the petty Europeans, Suzuki would have happily carried on making the 1200 Bandit with the air/oil-cooled motor that first turned up in 1987.

A decade later, the original 1075cc motor had grown to 1157cc through a change in the bore and stroke of the cylinders, the original 75.5 x 60mm dimensions giving way to a bigger bore, shorter stroke 79 x 59mm.

Introduced into the New Zealand market in 1996, the GSF1200 Bandit quickly became the best selling big-bore Japanese road bike on the market, the combination of unburstable, torquey power, all day comfort and a $13,995 price tag proving irresistable to the canny Kiwi.

Now, 16 years after the New Zealand launch of the GSF1200 Bandit, its replacement, the GSF1250S Bandit, retails at $12,995. Yep, $1000 less than the original.

For that outlay you get a motor with 19 per cent more torque than the original, developed at just 3700 rpm. The GSF1200 developed its peak of 90 Nm at 6500 rpm. From those numbers you will get the impression the new GSF1250 is a bit of a torque monster. You'd be right. It can be ridden in top (sixth) gear down to as little as 40 km/h and will pull away from that without complaint.

Not only do you get a six-speed gearbox, along with an engine fed by Suzuki's well proven dual-butterfly electronic fuel-injection, you get firmer suspension, a stiffer steel tube frame and 310mm dual front brake rotors gripped by a set of Tokiko four opposed-piston calipers.

Oh, and did we mention a gear-driven counter-balance shaft to smooth away the traditional vibes developed by in-line engines with flat-plane crankshafts?

Well, the big Bandit has one of those too, and as we said, all at $1000 less than the original carburettored, smaller displacement 1200 Bandit of 1996.

The Bandit range started in 1989 with the launch of the 250 and 400s. These used water-cooled engines in sporty, modern chassis but the
Japanese market wanted 'retro', so the Kawasaki 400 Zephyr
took off while the GSF400 Bandit struggled.
Perhaps that is why Suzuki's biggest Bandit is also the last remaining Bandit in production. The original 250 and 400cc versions appeared in 1989 but were ahead of their time, and were discontinued: the 250 in 1994 and the 400 in 2000. The GSF600 lasted from 1994 to 2004, when it was replaced by the GSF650. But that too has gone from the New Zealand Suzuki line-up, replaced by the fully-faired GSX650F at $14,995.

But the GSF1250 Bandit soldiers on, with steady sales maintaining it in the local Suzuki model line-up.

At 254 kg fully fuelled (19 litre tank) the Bandit is no lightweight, but for those who want a versatile, reliable all-rounder that's as happy commuting as it is touring the South Island, the GSF1250 still has a lot going for it.