The 1250 has come of age
Way back in the mid-90s, Suzuki took the GSXR 1100 R engine, put it into a simple chassis with budget suspension, simple clocks and a slightly detuned engine. The bike was the Bandit GSF 1200 and like its smaller sibling the 600, it sold in huge amounts. The bike was an enormous amount of fun to ride. An upright riding position with buckets of power on tap made for an interesting bike that was great on the road and ridiculously easy to put on the back wheel.
The bike’s development continued, and as riders started to tour, the ‘S’ version was launched. The newer bike had a small nose cone as well as low screen, but it was just enough to take the breeze off the rider’s chest. Pretty soon they were starting to appear with three pieces of hard luggage. The Bandit had become, by default, a sports tourer.
A staggering and sobering 20 years later, the Bandit is still in the Suzuki range. While the frame is still a simple tubular affair, albeit a very modern one, little else has remained the same. The engine has changed from that simple yet powerful block from all those years ago and the bike is now powered by a hi-tech 1250cc straight four.
The engine is now fed by a sophisticated fuel injection system. The throttle valve is a dual affair, which is efficient in terms of fuelling and wonderfully accurate in terms of responsiveness. This makes for excellent mileage and a smoothness of acceleration that we would expect from a class-leading bike such as the new Bandit.
Each throttle body is controlled via the primary valve by rider input on the throttle. The secondary valve is controlled digitally by the bike’s engine management system. This piece of wizardry makes its calls based on gear position, what the primary valve is doing and the engine’s revs per minute, making for a more efficient machine, as well as providing more linear real world power. It even has an automatic self-adjusting idle.
As with all modern tourers, the seat height is now adjustable so the rider on a heavily loaded bike doesn’t have to struggle to hold it upright at the lights with a pillion on the back. Speaking of pillions, the bike still has a passenger grab bar down the back. These days it may be a little more for remaining seated comfortably than it was for hanging on for dear life a few years ago!
The tyre sizes are still the brilliantly practical 120 and 190 section affairs. The clocks have come a long way with a wealth of information available to the rider in the form of digital menus. Gear indicator, giant digital speedo, fuel gauge and a good old fashioned analogue tacho, which is surrounded by idiot lights.
While the closely related GSX 1250, which doesn’t carry the ‘Bandit’ moniker, has full fairing and a different dash, the GSF 1250’s half fairing or ‘bikini’ is more than adequate in giving you a comfortable riding experience. The main stand is great too, when it comes to packing theluggage or simple maintenance such as lubing the chain. All told, the maddest bike in the range has grown up to offer two up touring at a fantastic price.
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