Since the mid-1990s, a number of prominent motorcycle manufacturers have adopted a “parts-bin” program, recycling components in much the same way that the auto industry does. Think of General Motors’ much-maligned “badge engineering” program, which allowed the company to release essentially identical models under a variety of names, such as the Chevy Cavalier/Cobalt, and the Pontiac Sunbird/Sunfire. In the motorcycle world, the practice of recycling popular platforms, though slightly more subtle, has become increasingly common. Just take a look at the Suzuki SV and V-Storm, or the Kawasaki ER-6 and Ninja 650. It’s easy to understand why a bike maker would want to spread popular parts among a number of different models (even Ducati has been tempted to the dark side by the promise of lower development costs), but the result has been a lack of flair and originality among new models. That is, until now.
The 2009 Suzuki Bandit 1250S is a true original. This burly bike has style to spare and plenty of personality, but more importantly, the Bandit 1250S doesn’t share its engine with any other vehicle.
Suzuki introduced the first stripped-down Bandit (the GSF 1200) in 1995. Created for long, relaxing rides, the GSF 1200 featured an air and oil-cooled 1,156cc four-cylinder DOHC, 16-valve engine producing 98 horsepower at 8,500 rpm, and 96.1 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Just one year later, Suzuki saw fit to ratchet back the torque to 90.7 Nm at 4,500 rpm, but with the addition of a half-fairing and windscreen, the Bandit was suddenly reborn as a full sport-tourer. In 2006, the engine was retooled to meet Euro 3 regulations, and upgraded to 1,255cc. Suzuki utilized this opportunity boost the Bandit’s torque, increasing displacement in order to generate 90 foot lbs of torque around 3,000 rpm, and well over 100 hp in the middle of the rev range.
The Suzuki Bandit’s updated frame uses a wider diameter aluminum tube with slightly thinner walls to add rigidity, and to reduce weight. The 43mm front forks are a larger size with modest adjustability, but mitigate brake dive well for a large bike. The front fairing with stacked headlamps does a good job of limiting wind buffeting under the helmet, and the overall riding position is a great balance balance between long distance comfort, and off-road aggression.
But it’s not all good news. The seat cannot sufficiently absorb the vibes put out by the 1250’s burly engine, and after about 20 minutes, pains begin to assail your inner thighs and tail bone without mercy. Luckily Corbin and Sargent, among others, have already perfected a replacement saddle, well worth the $400+ price tags. Another problem area is the exhaust system. Suzuki emphasizes ""a catalyzer-equipped high-volume muffler, combined with an effective engine management system, Suzuki PAIR system, and oxygen sensor for reduced emissions meeting tough Euro 3 standards,"" but the huge mass of steel required to make such claims weighs over 33 pounds. Nobody would mistake the bandit for a lightweight bike, tipping the scales at over 560 pounds, but that extra 30 pounds makes all the difference. Riders who install an aftermarket exhaust system can shave off nearly 21 pounds.
All in all, the latest generation of the Bandit 1250S is a do-it-all hog with power and style. In stock form, it will keep pace with some of the best sport bikes, or serve as a great two-up transport for everyday riding. With the addition of available accessories from Suzuki, such as Givi V35 side panniers, a top case, and a touring windscreen, The Bandit 1250S can become an optimal long-distance tourer.