Simon calms down with the big Bandit
After the madness of a year spent misbehaving on the loopy KTM 950SM, it's time to settle down. I need a commuter, shopping trolley, distance muncher and holiday tourer. The new big Bandit is just that and also discreetly styled so shouldn't attract undue attention to its law-breaking rider. It also has a sweet engine with stacks of low-down torque, a spot-on riding position and a great tank range.
Emission laws killed the original oil-cooled stunt supremo and this is its replacement. Here we have a bang-up-to-date looking water-cooled torque dispenser, and that suits me just fine. The last thing I need is a rev hungry beast with all the action at the top end. That would make both big distances and town pottering a big headache.
I like the modern looking motor and the sensible styling. I believe weirdos call this type of vehicle a 'sleeper'. It looks like it wouldn't say boo to a goose, but has enough grunt to rip the wedding tackle off a bull elephant. Now, that's useful power. Unless you're an elephant.
Being a distance hound, my poorbike is already having its first service as we speak, 1450 miles overdue thanks to mystery TWO commuter fairies who have no recollection of hammering the Bandit while I was partaking in Enduro India and left it parked at the office. The rear Dunlop is just about illegal, which indicates it's been either seriously thrashed, or that it's heavy on rear tyres. It's pretty obviously the former. I will have my revenge on the swines.
I reckon I'll take a rain check on performance cans and stunt monkey accessories for the Bandit, and focus instead on sensible sat nav and decent hard luggage. I want to make the most of the 1250's comfort and creamy smooth torquey motor. It's going to make for a very relaxing long distance tool and 500-750 miles a day should be a doddle as there's just enough screen height to deter neck ache.
Over the few miles I've put on the Bandit, I've noticed the gearbox is a slightly more notchy affair than the average Suzuki, but I'm hoping this will mellow with more miles and some fresh oil. There's already corrosion on various bolts too, despite it not having spent any time by the sea outside my Brighton pad. It looks like a serious going-over and regular TLC will be the order of the day if it's original appearance is to be kept.
A thousand thanks to Geoff at P&H in Crawley for squeezing in the emergency first service at short notice, and no thanks at all to the ham-fisted goons in the office for racking up the extra miles.
Only a few days of my term left with the Suzuki before I return it to its rightful owners. A shame really, as I’d quite liked to have run an ABS bike through the winter, despite the lack of weather protection, and don’t recall the system actually kicking in during 12,500 miles of normal road use. In that time, it has managed to be 100% reliable and more entertaining than I’d originally expected. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it exciting, but I was always happy to be riding it, whether nipping into town, carving up the countryside or nodding off on the motorway.
The key to all this is the engine, which is a gem. The rest of the bike is made of pretty average components, as you’d expect with such a modest price tag, but it’s the motor that makes it the excellent bike it is. It’s 1,250cc heart is creamy smooth and delivers effortless torque from virtually no revs, making short work of most overtaking manoeuvres and negating the need to rev it hard (and extending the fuel range nicely) – I probably hit the redline on a couple of occasions out of curiosity. It gets noisy when cruising above the legal limit due to the small screen, but not so bad that I bothered to do anything about it, and the overall comfort level is fine, for the pillion too.
As with all my bikes, it got cleaned and lubed but not garaged or fussed over. Just used. It’s a fair way of life for a test bike, and a good way of assessing build quality and durability. There was furring on more of the alloy than I would have liked, and very early on too, but no rust. The paint and plastics held up fine however. So, a degree of spray-on prevention is essential to keep the Bandit looking fresh, particularly if it’s to endure an outdoor winter or two. At the end of the day, I have to keep going back to the asking price of five and a half grand. It’s a lot of bike for the money and combined with its discreet styling and low-profile appearance, will get you places quietly and quickly without attracting unwanted attention. Thumbs up and a fond farewell to the trusty Bandit. Cheerio, love.
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