In 1995 Suzuki built the naked middleweight Bandit. Compared to Yamaha's Diversion it was a revelation: sure it was cheap, cheerful and built to a price, but it was also a hell of a lot of fun to ride.
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY was not part of the deal when this Bandit stopped us in our tracks 10 years ago.Instead, you were the one on the take. For just £3999 new back in 1995 you'd get a smart-looking budget bike with well proven chassis parts and motor. In fact, it was all a bit of a steal.The engine came courtesy of the old GSX600F 'Teapot'. Not the fastest bike out there, to be sure, but the air/oil cooled motor was reliable and good for 70-80bhp and 125mph: and while the suspension was wibbly-wobbly and super-soft you could still wind up the wick and really enjoy twisty roads. It seemed as if all these budget parts seemed to add up to so much more. The name was cool and the look was classical. Here was a nice-looking, modern and cheap naked bike, with just a hint of retro chic. It was a winner.Suzuki, wisely realising they were onto a good thing, decided in 1996 to add another model to the stable - the GSF600S - basically the same bike with a half-fairing bolted on. These were soon joined by a Bandit 1200 for just £2000 more and both bikes shot to the top of the charts.It was certainly the price that made the Bandit a big hit, but sadly, come winter, the budget bits could prove to be the bike's undoing. Exhausts rotted quicker than Shane McGowan's teeth and engine paint would dissolve on contact with the smallest drop of H20.Today, things have most definitely moved on. Back then you could fool yourself that the Bandit was a sporty little number and better than its main opposition - the dowdy Yam Diversion. Sadly, the ravages of time and newer, smarter and better built opposition such as the Hornet, Fazer, Z750 and Suzuki's own SV650 have seen it revert from a smart little bike into something that's simply a cheaper, poorer alternative to better bikes. But the upside of being one of the first budget naked middleweights on the block is that there's a Bandit out there for any sized wallet. Just beware of the mangy old hounds.
Posted: 05/08/2011 at 03:19
Posted: 22/09/2011 at 01:25
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