2010 Suzuki GSX1250FA road test review

A new big sports tourer from the nice people at Suzuki. It’s like a Bandit ,but rest assured: in no way, shape or form is this a Bandit. It’s a GSX1250FA alright? A GSX1250FA. Got it?

Click to read: Suzuki GSX1250FA owners reviews, Suzuki GSX1250FA specs and see the Suzuki GSX1250FA image gallery.

This is the Suzuki GSX 1250 FA – a fully-faired, wallet-friendly, four-cylinder sports tourer aimed at capturing a sizeable chunk of the UK’s 40-something market.

At first glance, you may think the 1255cc, 257kg beast is just a 1250 Bandit, dressed in a full fairing, with a few extra tweaks – and you’d be just about right. But at the bike’s press launch in Southern Spain, Suzuki was keen to keep the ‘B’ word well away from our ears and their lips. This is the ‘GSX 1250 FA’. It’s most definitely not a Bandit. Got it?

So what exactly is new about the GSX1250FA? A new-style full fairing, ABS as standard, revised front suspension, a digital dash, a larger radiator and a reshaped exhaust end-can are the major differences on the new sports tourer. The rest of it is plain old Suzuki 1250, ahem, Bandit.

Like most European Press Launches, the weather in Southern Spain was as changeable as Katie Price’s love life. Smatterings of sun, punctuated with dreary drizzle, meant the first stint on the new FA was going to be ‘interesting’ on Spain’s notoriously slippery roads.

Wandering out into the hotel car park, I catch a glimpse of the bike at a distance for the first time. Suzuki has chosen simple, single-colour paint schemes for the FA, presumably to save on cost. Visually, it lacks punch, certainly compared to the unique appearance of the new Honda VFR1200F, which we tested a few months ago. Suzuki say a decal kit is available as an optional extra to perk up the FA’s appearance. Worth considering, methinks.

Climbing aboard, the first thing that’s most noticeable is the new GSX-R-style digital instrument display. A large, black-faced rev counter nuzzles next to an LCD speedo, which can be flicked from MPH to KMH with the push of a button. An LCD gear indicator is a handy addition, although I’m not so sure about the programmable gearshift warning light, which zaps the rider with a quick ‘flash’ when the engine reaches the desired revs to remind the rider to change gear. Useful on a GSX-R, perhaps, especially if you’re on track, but I’m not sure it’s needed on a bike whose target audience is verging toward Just for Men. I never looked at it once in the whole 120-mile ride.

Like the existing 1250, the FA’s armed with a height-adjustable seat, with 20mm of play available. My bike was on the lowest setting (805mm), which meant I was able to plant my boots almost flat on Spanish tarmac. Important for a five foot nine shortarse I can tell you, especially if the bike’s fully fuelled with panniers and a pillion.

My first few miles aboard the FA are easier than I expected, despite the greasy Spanish roads. Power from the 1255cc motor is smooth and peachy, as you’d expect from a machine that eeks out less than 100bhp. Despite its engine capacity, the FA lacks the urgent punch found on the, arguably more powerful, Honda VFR1200. But the softness of the power delivery complements the lack of traction control in today’s weather conditions. I’m experiencing none of the buttock-clenching moments that plagued my test ride on the new £11,596 VFR – a bike that should be fitted with traction control but isn’t.

Leaving the A-roads we head up into the mountains on some beautifully maintained sweeping Spanish tarmac. The FA is a sweet handling, neutral steering machine, requiring minimal effort to get it to turn. ABS brakes, fitted as standard on the FA, are also proving their worth. Having not ridden for a while, I’m finding myself running into corners too hot, sometimes too deep – the Suzuki’s unobtrusive anti-lock system reminds me, with just the faintest pulse through the front lever and rear foot pedal, that I need to calm down a touch.

I swap bikes after the lunch stop and test an FA fitted with a higher seat, a touch more rear preload and the handlebars cocked forward just a few degrees over the bike I rode in the morning session. These small tweaks make a big difference: I’m sat higher up, leant forward a touch, which, along with increased preload, makes the bike turn just that little bit sweeter. Tiinkering with even the simplest things can make a riding experience so much better (or worse if you get it wrong).

A 30km stretch of dual carriageway, ridden at the thick end of 100mph, reveals the FA’s first shortfall. The screen’s too low, even for me, which means I have to bob up and down like a cockerel on heat to stay out of the blast and yet see enough. Suzuki’s answer? Wait for it… a vario-touring screen, available as an optional extra, of course.

After 120 miles of enthusiastic, throttle-happy miles I’m left impressed by the FA. Sure, it doesn’t have the unique presence of the VFR1200, or the build quality, or the cutting edge technology. But at just £6999 the Suzuki’s almost five grand cheaper than the V4 Honda. That’s goes a long way towards insurance, bike gear, hotels, ferry costs, new kitchen etc.

Our advice? See if you can sniff out a deal on an existing Suzuki Bandit 1250GT, which retails for just £6,849. The bike comes with a full fairing and ABS and a top box and panniers as standard (optional extras on the FA). It’s being phased out in favour of the FA, but you can still pick one up for less than £6,500.

2010 Suzuki GSX1250FA Specifications

Price £6,999 Top speed 144mph
Engine 1255cc, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, inline four
Bore & stroke 79mm x 64mm Compression ratio 10.5:1
Power 97bhp at 7500rpm Torque 80ft/lb at 3750rpm
Front suspension 43mm conventional fork Adjustment preload
Rear suspension monoshock Adjustment preload
Front brake 310mm discs, 4-piston callipers
Rear brake 240mm, 2-piston calliper
Dry weight 257kg Seat height 805mm Fuel capacity 19-litres
Colour options Candy Indy Blue, Metallic Oort Grey (Oort – a spherical cloud of comets, when it’s at home), Pearl Nebular Black