Looking at the latest generation Bandit makes us wonder why Suzuki named it so. It looks like a gentleman’s motorcycle with an easy-on-the-eye styling offering an upright and a comfortable riding stance. Yes, it is quite substantial, but there’s nothing intimidating or aggressive about the way it looks. After riding it, we would say the same about its performance as well. That big 1255cc inline 4 engine is tuned to deliver gentle performance with linear acceleration. It is an easy going motorcycle with no tantrums, and it is reliable and almost trouble-free. So, why is it called Bandit?
The answer can be found from the time when the first Bandit was launched in 1989. The Bandit is a series of motorcycles which started with a 250cc motorcycle GSF250. For many years, Bandits were popular as the “Hooligan’s bike” due to their streetfighter design. Many of them have been used for stunting. One interesting aspect of the Bandit brand is that they have always had inline 4 engines.
Over the years, though, Bandits grew into more of sport-tourers primarily with the addition of a front fairing in the 650cc and 750cc models. The latest generation, 1255cc Bandit 1250S, which was first introduced in 2007, is a proper sport-tourer with the sole intention of providing a comfortable ride for prolonged hours on the saddle.
The 1255cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, inline 4, 16-valve engine produces 97BHP of power at 7,500 RPM and 108NM of torque at 3,700 RPM. It is clear that the engine is tuned to deliver more of low and bottom end torque where you can put the motorcycle in a higher gear and ride at relatively low speeds without lugging the engine. Absolutely perfect for non-stop, high-speed highway cruising. Also, the overall bulkiness and the heavy wet weight of 254 kg discourage over-enthusiastic manoeuvres. The rear link-type mono-suspension is adjustable for preload and rebound while the telescopic front forks are non-adjustable.
The Bandit 1250S has an old-school feeling to it because of its big and basic sportbike style statement. The feeling enhances further when you consider the bulky 4-into-1 exhaust which was common more than 10-15 years back. Even though there are motorcycles like the Hayabusa and ZX-14R with big exhaust systems, but their design have a bit of sophistication unlike the one in Bandit which is just big and cylindrical. Another aspect which keeps it both in the past and in the present is the inclusion of minimal electronic rider-aids. The double disc front brakes and the single rear disc are assisted by the ABS system. There’s no traction control or riding modes as such.
The Bandit may not be an enticing proposition for the current generation of riders and even for seasoned riders as there so many motorcycles today that are more modern, up-market, that have more features and are equally comfortable. The Bandit is not sophisticated or lively enough. But then it is more affordable than many and likely easier to maintain as well. Suzuki continues to keep it running without any drastic changes. Perhaps, the company is aware that there are people who still want it.
For us, it is just nice to come across a motorcycle which takes us back in time.
p.s.: Sincere thanks to Dr. Nandakumar from Krishnagiri for letting us ride his prized possession!