With a price tag of £5549 Suzuki's new Bandit 1250 comes with a huge motor and tons of all-round potential. But is it better than a lightly-used big bore bargain?
Buying a new bike is a double-edged sword. You may bag a virginal steed unsullied by human hand, but you'll also face the dreaded depreciation. Just turn the key on a new bike and you'll lose money. A brand new 1000cc superbike burns the best part of £1000 as soon as that first dose of fuel squirts into the motor, and loses double that two years on. That's the harsh reality of buying new.
You could avoid this and buy second-hand, letting someone else take the real depreciation kick in the pods, but the other option is to buy smart. Very smart. Which is where the 1200 Bandit comes in. Since its introduction just over 10 years ago Suzuki has been careful not to change the Bandit too much - apart from two slight updates in 2000 and 2006, which mainly involved frame strengthening and minor cosmetics, the Bandit has remained virtually unchanged. Which has helped it keep its resale value. A six-year-old Bandit 1200, bought new for £5500, is still worth around £2500, making the cost of depreciation around £500 a year. Compare this to a 2001 GSX-R1000, which cost £9000 new and would now be worth £3500, and you can see why smart money goes with the Bandit. With this kind of economical motoring it's not surprising Bandit owners love their bikes, as we found out when we caught up with the owners' club. But it's not just frugalness that wins the Bandit friends, it's the amount of bike you get for your money.
A new 1250S costs £5549, but you can pick one up for less if you shop around. For this you get a brand new bike with ABS, a half fairing, a motor with tons of stomp and a chassis and riding position as suited to touring as to everyday commuting. Sounds like a deal, doesn't it? Well yes, on the face of it, but what about the competition? Well, conveniently, that's exactly where this test comes in. Putting our best money-minded heads on, we rounded up a trio of chunky, tasty, previously owned big bore rippers and set them toe-to-toe against the Bandit. Would the big Suzuki win by a knockout, or would it be floored in the first by its bargain brethren?
First up is Honda's legendary Firestorm. It's a long-forgotten fact these things were launched as Honda's answer to the 916 back in 1997, and held the firm's V-twin fort until the SP-1 appeared two years later. There are tons of these on the used market with prices starting at around two grand for a high-mileage early model, but ours is a £5500 minter - right into Bandit country. This V-twin is sportier than the Suzuki, but don't let that put you off in your all-round quest - it wouldn't be a Honda if it wasn't annoyingly good at everything, would it?
Next comes Kawasaki's ZRX1200S. Frumpy sister to the oh-so-stylish Eddie Lawson rep ZRX1200R, the S gets a half-fairing instead of the R's retro nose cone, but apart from that the pair are mechanically identical. Poor sales meant Kawasaki stopped making the S in 2005 while sticking with the R. So, like the Firestorm, £5000 gets you an absolute beauty with hardly any miles, and some change to boot.
Finally BMW's R1100S. But not any old R1100S, it's a BoxerCup Replika no less. Back in '02 these cost the thick end of £8500 being a limited edition to promote the Boxer Cup, a one-make race series designed to give BMW more track cred. And we're not stupid, the bike is a BoxerCup (one word), the series was the Boxer Cup (two words).
Like all BMWs these hold their value well and even after four years this one's still worth close to £5500.With our brace of bargain blasters we headed for the Peak District, where the up hill and down dale rolling countryside awaited to test their swagger as well as their stomp.
Continue the Road Test - 2/3
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