A New Heart for an Old Bike
Upon first inspection, you can be forgiven for thinking that the Suzuki Bandit 1250S is the same bike that sat on showroom floors last season. But, look a little closer and the changes will become apparent and intriguing. Beneath the familiar bodywork a more compact all-new liquid-cooled 1255cc motor replaces the aged air-and oil-cooled 1157cc mill that has served various Suzuki models since the mid-eighties.
In its transformation the Bandit actually becomes one of the most potent sleeper bikes on the market—its true nature belied by old school design elements such as the tube-steel cradle frame.
But even that has been revisited as the Suzuki Bandit 1250S takes to the road with a new chassis that still features a tube frame, though with larger diameter down tubes for “improved torsional rigidity,” in the words of the Suzuki literature. Meaning the frame is meant to provide that often elusive balance between the sharper handling requirements of sport riding and the more plush road mannerisms valued on the longer cruise. Fuel capacity however drops by a litre (down to 19L) in favour of a sleeker tank, but the seat height can be adjusted with spacers attached between the frame rail and the seat.
Mounted on three-spoke aluminum wheels and equipped with a three-disc brake system that includes last year’s 310mm dual disc stoppers up front, the Bandit is also available as an ABS model. That version however will cost you an extra $500 over the base unit’s list price of $10,799.
For suspension, there’s a set of conventional Showa 43mm forks up front that combines with a single rear shock with preload adjustability—also made by Showa.
But with all these changes, there’s at least one item that remains intact: a centre stand. This seemingly mundane component has actually become somewhat of a rarity on the new bike market over the years.
Stylewise, it’s the same old Bandit that’s dressed up with a half fairing, incorporating the headlights, windscreen and mirrors.
The 98cc displacement boost is accompanied by a completely revised cylinder head and bumped-up compression ratio (9.5:1 to 10.5:1), and is complemented by a new six-speed transmission—versus last year’s five-speed—that ultimately drops top gear rpm at highway speeds. Interestingly, with a 1.71 ratio in sixth, the final gear is not an overdrive equation as it was in the five-speed 2006 transmission which produced a 0.193 ratio in fifth (less than one-to-one equals “overdrive”).
The powertrain benefits from a new reduced effort hydraulic clutch and liquid cooler for reducing oil temperatures—incidentally, there’s a smaller oil reservoir this year, down from 4,600 to 3,700 millilitres.
Fuel-injected for 2007, the Suzuki Bandit 1250S weighs in at 224 kg (496 lbs.), some 10 kg (22 lbs.) heavier than its predecessor. But with the increased compression and longer stroke (by 5mm) torque values have risen by 20 per cent—79.5 ft/lbs. of peak torque are now available at a stump-pulling 3,700 rpm. This compares to last year’s peak torque of 67.3 ft/lbs. at 6,500. The claimed max 97 hp number hasn’t changed for this year, but at 7,500 rpm, it arrives one grand earlier. Fixed with a secondary balancer shaft to calm vibrations, the mill has also been given a new catalyzer and oxygen sensor that reduce emissions to Euro 3 specs.
The old Bandit was a comfortable, easy-going street standard that probably didn’t strike fear into the hearts of too many other riders. From an ergonomic standpoint the bike retains these characteristics, defined by an upright seating posture. But the Bandit 1250S has the potential to make quick work of the pure sportbike rider who’s been caught with his midrange down—don’t let that cocky fellow in logo-festooned leathers sitting astride his big “Thou” intimidate you, he’ll still be winding that baby up like a clockwork toy when you have already left the playground.
With MSRP sitting underneath the $11,000 mark, the Bandit likely has the best torque-to-dollar ratio on the market, and if you can live without the cutting edge technology and styling of contemporary litre-class bikes, the Bandit is the best deal on the road. That is, if your preference runs to compliant, yet abundant power combined with comfort.
Are there things to nitpick about the Suzuki Bandit 1250S? Sure, but I was way too busy smiling to notice. Think of the 2007 Bandit as the 2006 bike with a heart transplant. The changes are subtle on the outside but, once the blood get pumping, look out.
John Molony, Canadian Biker Issue #235