Niall's Spin: 2006 Suzuki Bandit 650

Bandits were the ultimate model that began the factory streetfighter craze but, in light of recent events, have they been improved or lost their charm?

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NOT SO LONG ago Bandits were very cool indeed, single-handedly kick starting the factory streetfighter craze with 600 and 1200cc models. The 600 Bandit became a best-seller for those after a cheap first 'big' bike , but in recent years the competition has upped the ante and, in my opinion, left the Suzuki behind.

Although it's now a 650 the Bandit is much heavier than its class rivals, so loses out on the old power-to-weight ratio. The engine now has a slightly harsher feel to the delivery - like it needs a service - but I guess that's a small price to pay for the extra grunt. At least the motor is manageable and easy to use, even for the very inexperienced.

The Bandit is surprisingly capable both in town and on the motorway - although the lack of fairing means speeds have to be kept down. I know couriers that swear by Bandits because they're cheap to run, bullet proof and excellent for weaving through London's mayhem.

The suspension works well on the road but the forks do struggle if you go anywhere near a racetrack. Moaning aside, this is still a good handling, easy to live with bike and mega cheap to buy.