Power Tourers –

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Power Tourers –
Suzuki Bandit Sport Touring

Soft Saddlebags Required

Photography by Tom Fortune and Mounce

Remember the good old days when you and a buddy would throw a set of soft saddlebags on your bikes and spend a day carving twisties before pitching a tent and bench racing in front of a fire?

Power has been shaved from the upper reaches of the traditionally peaky GSXR powerband and packed into the Bandit’s mid range. Dyno charts show that even though our Bandit pumped out just 100 peak horsepower, there is a whopping 70 ft-lbs of torque available for your wheel-lofting pleasure at just 6,000 rpm. That kind of thrust means supreme passing power on the highway.

In 40-80 mph roll-on tests our Bandit pulled steadily away from the GPz, even when the Kawasaki rider was in fifth gear.

Top speeds were equal between our two contestants at 145 mph with saddlebags installed. (Hey, this is a power trip!) Both machines were stable at speed, with the Kawasaki feeling just a little more planted due to its longer wheelbase. Suzuki also takes the win in impromptu drag strip testing. But in situations more reflective of real-world riding the edge goes to Kawasaki’s GPz.

Its enormous 5.8 gallon tank, coupled with 42.8 mpg, offers a generous range of 248 sport-touring miles. Our Bandit proved to be a little more thirsty at 38 mpg, providing a range of 190 miles from its 5 gallon tank.


Differences between these two bikes are apparent after even a short ride. Where the GPz coddles its rider in smoothness and well thought out amenities, the Bandit 1200 is more of a muscular brute. While Kawasaki designed a fairing that would keep a rider in comfort at speed, Suzuki installed a smaller unit merely to keep Bandit pilots from being blown off.

Don’t get us wrong – the Suzuki possesses all the elements of a practical bike, like a big seat and sensible riding position, but a Bandit lacks the sheer comfort of the GPz.

This is mostly due to the aforementioned small fairing, but also an upright riding position that forces its pilot to push a lot of air. Bar to peg relationship is just about perfect though, and replacing handlebars is easy, as opposed to the GPz’s non-adjustable clip-ons. Some engine vibration does find its way to the rider on the highway, and although its never enough to be called annoying, after riding the silky GPz it is noticeable.

Working on our Bandit was easy thanks to the lack of a full fairing. With just a few bolts the tank, seat and side covers can be removed, creating easy access to the inner workings. Performing maintenance on the GPz takes a little longer, due to that model’s full coverage fairing and multitude of fasteners.

Ergonomics can be adjusted to suit your preferences thanks to the Bandit’s tubular handlebar.

Suzuki Bandit Sport Touring

What’s frustrating about the Bandit is that it is basically an excellent motorcycle saddled with some simple, yet annoying flaws. Carburetion, at least on our 49-state model, was terrible. A flat spot at lower revs made leaving traffic lights a pain, and colder mornings only made things worse.

Plan on spending some time playing with jetting, or investing in a jet kit.

Another bothersome trait of the big Bandit is its poorly sprung front. Even with the adjustable preload cranked to its max it pitches heavily during braking or aggressive cornering. A lack of adjustable rebound damping makes fast corner entrances difficult, as the front will pogo once the brakes are released.

Stiffer springs would help somewhat, but rebound damping will remain a problem. Rear spring rates are quite good, and power-sliding the Bandit out of slower turns feels predictable.

The Suzuki’s tapered seat caused us to constantly slide forward into the tank. A more conventional shape would be preferable.

Suzuki’s Bandit 1200 has the basic ingredients of a fun and comfortable sport-touring bike — sensible ergonomics and a great motor. Plus, at just $7,099 it’s a relative bargain. However, its simple yet numerous flaws place it second in a head-to-head battle with Kawasaki’s GPz.

Kawasaki GPz1100:

Suzuki Bandit Sport Touring
Suzuki Bandit Sport Touring

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