First Ride

Suzuki GSX1250FA - Page 2

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?

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

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