SUZUKI BANDIT 1250 SA Review
Motoaus take a look at the latest in a very long line of Bandits, the 1250 SA.
Suzuki Bandit 1250 SA
First introduced in the mid ’90s, Suzuki’s Bandit 1200 remained largely unchanged until last year. Originally conceived as a factory street fighter, the first 1200 Bandit featured a 1157cc oil cooled GSX-R motor in a steel tube frame with standard fare running gear. It was a smash hit, and became known and loved for all kinds of reasons, not the least its ability to be ridden on one wheel. It’s hard to find someone who has owned a Bandit 1200 and has a bad word to say about it.
And while the Bandit 1250 has a raft of changes and improvements, at a casual glance, you’d think it was the same. The secret to the Bandit is to realise it isn’t really “best” in any one area. It’s kinda heavy, and with 200 horsepower production motorcycles just around the corner, bragging about its 100 ponies wont be impressing your mates at the pub. It runs fairly conventional suspension – it doesn’t even have upside down forks. What’s the secret then?
Well, basically it does everything well. It’s an all-round honest fun motorcycle. And it suits a whole lot of different riding styles.
Commuting? No problems, its relatively low compression ratio wont require exotic fuel. Its massive 80 odd foot pounds of torque at only 3700 rpm will fire you to the next traffic light with minimum gear shifting.
Touring? 19 litre fuel tank, good fuel consumption thanks to a low stressed engine, and reasonable level of protection from the small fairing.
Sports riding? While on paper it would seem to be lacking, the big Bandit can be hustled along plenty fast enough at semi sane road speeds. And its stability and sure-footedness will make up for its lack of race cred.
For the 1250 Bandit, Suzuki replaced the old oil cooled 1157cc motor with an all new 1255cc liquid cooled gem. The capacity increase is the result of a longer stroke, and compression is up from 9.5:1 by a full point 10.5. The other main features are the fuel injection and a 6 speed transmission. Although I’m not convinced it really needed more than 5 gears with this great motor, a quick run through the ratios with a calculator shows Suzuki have pretty much just added one more higher gear for 6th.. First gear, and each gear up to 5th remains almost identical to the original Bandit’s gearing. *See table 1 below.
The fuel injection is as close to perfect as any bike we’ve ridden. Instant throttle response, with no stumble or lurch, and perfect even throttle running without a hint of the fuelling issues that appear on various other fuel injected motorcycles. This motor also runs a balancer shaft for smoother running and is combined with a super quiet exhaust. I’ve never ridden a turbine, but I expect if I did, it would feel like a Bandit 1250. It really is that good, and even though its an overused cliché – addictive. You can literally leave it in one gear over your favourite bit of twisty road, it will pull hard from as low as 2000 rpm.
The addition of the injection and liquid cooling is probably the reason it has picked up a bit more pork this model, up to a solid 230 claimed dry kgs.
Of note on this particular Bandit was the brakes, it was an “SA” model, denoting ABS or anti-lock braking system for the non acronym friendly. Like the ABS you maybe familiar with in a car, the system basically measures wheel speed and in the event that the wheel stops turning, it releases some braking pressure to allow the wheel to keep turning.
While this is a major feature on a motorcycle, in reality, it is something you will hardly notice under most conditions. Unless perhaps you are ham fisted enough to continually lock the front wheel. It has to be said first that I was lacking sufficient strength of character to see what would happen if you tried to lock the front wheel at high speed. I did however give the system a fair trial at low speeds. With the excellent traction available from the standard tyres, it actually isn’t that easy to lock the front wheel on clean dry bitumen. Still I managed to get enthusiastic enough to do it, and found the sensation to be similar to that of a cars ABS sensation, a fairly harsh juddering as the front locks and unlocks. I’m not entirely convinced the ABS would allow you to reef on the front brakes in the wet, and prevent enough wheel lock to stop planting you on your smug face.
I imagined the ABS would be smoother, and was surprised how savage the lock/unlock feeling was. Perhaps the faster you are going the smoother it would be. Perhaps someone else will volunteer to try it at high speed and get back to us with the results. I’d suggest wearing full leathers though.
Among other notable features is the height adjustable seat, 20mm of height can be dropped by flipping some spacers apparently. I found it fine in the standard height. Fit and finish is typical high quality Suzuki gear, the instruments consist of an analogue tacho, and a a digital speedo with usual trip functions. No temperature gauge was a minor worry, but the fuel gauge was welcome.
Also found on the Bandit, not seen often these days, was a centrestand. Once an almost universal inclusion on all bikes, the stand makes for easy maintenance. The few who don’t need one could easily remove it.
The most common mods for this bike will probably be a different set of bars to suit personal preference, an after market muffler to enhance the audio, and for the longer distance minded, perhaps a slightly higher screen, or an after market seat.
I don’t know how many customers will settle on the Bandit because it has ABS, and I guess in the future all bikes may have it. But I can say, unless you are in actual need of a race rep, or a dedicated tourer, the Bandit won’t disappoint too many buyers.
It’s one of those rare bikes that does everything well, or at least well enough to satisfy you. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve looked at a Bandit and felt under whelmed, only to ride it, and remember what a really great all rounder it is.
Great All Rounder
Not so good:
On the heavy side
Don’t buy a Bandit if you are expecting to carve chunks from lap records, or shut down your buddy’s Hayabusa at the traffic lights. Buy one if you want a really truly, good honest, all round capable bike that will provide you with all the motorcycling fun you can handle. Currently the Bandit is $12,490 RRP plus on roads.
Table 1: Chart showing the real gearing ratios at the rear wheel on the 1200 Bandit, and the new 1250 Bandit,