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Suzuki Bandit Grand Touring Bike ReviewMSE Ratings

Suzuki Bandit Grand Touring Bike ReviewEverybody who rides knows about the Suzuki Bandit, it has proved itself over the years and through many incarnations has shown it to be a totally reliable, well-put together machine.

AddedDate Added: 29th May 2009
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Editor Contributor's Review

First seen in 1995 it has steadily improved resulting in the latest 1250cc fuel injected version, the previous 1157 cc air/oil-cooled motor did not meet Euro 3 emissions regulations so a change was needed. While the new 1255 cc engine produces almost identical horse power and torque figures as the old air cooled engine, the big difference is in where in the RPM band peak torque is produced. This 1255 cc engine produces its whopping torque (108Nm) at a low (3750) RPM. That power is sent to the driveline via a new six speed constant mesh transmission.

Because it was/is so cheap the 1200 Bandit gained the name, rightly or wrongly, as a bit of a hooligan bike, there are businesses that began because of this bike and are still around today which is a testament to the brand. But with more recent revisions the bike has taken on a more streamlined and modern feel, taking it more towards tourer territory and the latest version is just that.

The newest version has been named the ‘Grand Touring’ and from that you would expect some extras, you get them in the form of a full set of hard luggage, fairing lowers and the latest Garmin Zumo 550 sat nav with european maps, on top of the standard ABS. With all that it should be a great bike, unfortunately there are a couple of small things that create big problems.

You have a 19 litre tank which isn’t massive, and then the warning light comes on at 120 miles – not good! On my return I questioned it and was told there are 7 litres left at the light, which gives you a theoretical mileage of 190 to the tank. But why so early? It would be better for it to come on at 150 miles so you get a sense of the true mpg and don’t need to stop as much we did with not knowing.

I’m a firm believer that if your going to test a ‘Touring’ bike you have to tour on it, or at least get some miles in over a few days, and this I did with the wife on a trip through France to the Millau Bridge and back with a group of friends from Kent bmf and others. Things didn’t quite go to plan though and I must point out that the problems we had would not happen to 2 people of size 10 proportions.

When the wife first sat on the bike the day before we left she said ‘ooh that’s cosy’ which should have pointed me to the problem but didn’t, I just wanted to go on holiday. The ‘cosy’ feeling is caused by the top box over hanging the rear seat reducing the room, in effect it pushed the wife forward by about 3-4 inches. This in turn pushed me forward virtually onto the tank and as a consequence your legs are pushed back to reach the pegs which doesn’t help.

Removing the top box all together was not an option as it had gear in it, but we did try it for a short ride and the rack for the box was digging in to the wifes rear.

Having said this it is just as well the topbox was there or the wife would have been left sitting on a french road somewhere, a couple of times! The throttle is very light so all that power can come in very quickly if you are not careful but it is a lot of fun.

Day one was a 406 mile run to Issoudun, south of Orleans which should have been an easy run though boring, it turned into agony highlighting problem 2 – the seat. It has been narrowed which gives less support for the pillion, also the edges of the riders seat have been schampfered off so being forced further forward the support was gone. By the time we arrived we were in agony and couldn’t wait to get off.

Day 2 saw us off to Oradour sur Glane, the town was the scene of a massacre in world war II by Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division Das Reich. On Saturday the 10th of June 1944 they killed a total of 642 men, women and children without giving any reasons for their actions, and to this day there is no universally accepted explanation for the massacre. Afterwards they torched the town in its entirety and those left behind rebuilt the town next to the ruins, which are now a monument to those lost.

An hour before we left the heavens opened, fully, and waterproofs came out but to little effect as it was getting through everything, and I lost the wife. Not literally, but she swapped seats with a friend who came on the back of the bandit while she got on a GSX 1400 for the trip back to the hotel of 104 miles. At the end even her friend was having trouble with being on the back and she is a totally different size and shape.

Day 3 saw us back on the road to Millau but not on the motorway, we needed something to distract us from the pain so we went cross country as far as Clermont Ferrand where we met up with 2 more of our group who had gone to see something on the way down. I lost the wife again, she was back on the GSX and I had his luggage strapped to the back of the bandit and it stayed much like that for the rest of the trip.

After having a full day off the bikes we felt a bit better but still plumped for a 3 day ride back to Calais cross country as opposed to the 2 days the others had chosen. It helped a great deal with the comfort and after overnight stops in Limoges and Chartres we were back at Calais, early-by 4 hours but £10 saw us on the next boat back to blightey.

As we pulled onto the drive and dismounted we were glad it was over, but the following day I had to ride the bike back to Suzuki in Milton Keynes and sods law it was fine. On my own it was great, I had the full seat to move back onto, could move my legs, sit straight and it was a totally different bike.

While all this seems negative I did say at the beginning it was based on the wife and I. The component parts that make up this bike are very good, the base bike is a typical Bandit, strong engine, handles well - even 2 up with full luggage. The luggage itself is very good with strong waterproof boxes (tested), plenty of room, easy to take on and off the bike and with a strong mounting system.

The sat nav that comes with the bike is very good, the latest technology comes to the for but without the book I couldn’t use all the features which was a shame.

A quote from Suzuki when I discussed our problems with the bike were “Perhaps we need to review the top box, but on the whole I believe the 1250 offers a great all round ride”, and they are right it is a great all round bike but not for bigger people.

I would never tell anyone not to buy a bike because of my opinion, but what I would say is that if you are thinking of buying ANY bike, try it first. If you are buying it to tour 2 up take your pillion with you and do at least 100 miles, that way you will begin to feel anything that may cause a problem and make your evaluation on that.

It’s a shame the GSX 1400 won’t pass the euro 3 emissions with the current engine, as with the extras fitted onto that bike, it would be a much better package for us big uns!

Dave Muckle

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