2016 Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS

Editor Score: 83.75%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls5.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.75/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score83.75/100

When E-i-C Kevin Duke sent out an email asking the MO staff for a list of good bikes that had been long-neglected by both its manufacturer and us, one bike immediately came to mind: the Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS. Mildly updated after a couple year’s absence, the 2016 Bandit 1250S ABS receives a new half-fairing plus some internal engine tweaks. While changes to a fun all-around motorcycle warrants a road test, the Bandit is also the bike on which I gave my oldest daughter her first motorcycle ride – way back in 2011. So, the big Bandito will always hold a special place in my heart, and I had waited far too long to throw a leg over one.

2001 Suzuki Bandit 1200S

The beating heart of the Bandit is a collection of old school-technology that has been repeatedly polished to its current state of understressed brilliance. This year the engine receives a new chrome-nitride coating on the pistons’ upper compression and oil control rings. Applied using a physical vapor deposition (PVD) vacuum chamber system, the coating has a harder surface for reduced friction and tighter cylinder sealing, which should result in higher performance. Suzuki’s SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material) which is composed of nickel-phosphorous-silicon-carbide plating makes for tighter piston/cylinder tolerances, less mechanical loss, and more power to the rear wheel.

Displacing 1255cc with a bore and stroke of 79.0 mm x 64.0 mm, the engine is tuned for smooth, linear power and maximum torque delivered early in the rpm range. The 36mm throttle bodies outfitted with Suzuki Dual Throttle valve (SDTV) EFI deliver handle fuel-metering duties. The Bandit’s cooling system utilizes a GSX-R750-derived oil-cooler to assist the oil in its secondary duty of cooling engine internals.

For the most part, the engine delivers the smooth power throughout the rpm range for which it was designed. Off the line, the engine launches with an easy-to-modulate clutch and minimal revs. With ample torque created around 2500 rpm, the power delivery has a low-down grunt that big-bore V-Twin owners can appreciate. That power continues building linearly until around 9000 rpm when the party ends. If the Bandit hadn’t been delivering roughly the same mid–90s peak horsepower for years, the revelation of less than 100 hp output would be scandalous. Instead, it’s old news. Having all that displacement produce only double-digit horsepower output seems pretty odd – on paper. However, you won’t miss it out on the road – unless you’re expecting an open class sportbike’s top-end rush. Recalibrate your sensors for streetable power delivery that will work in almost any riding situation, and Suzuki’s choice makes tons of sense.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS action

Ergonomically, the Bandit hits the nail on the head. If we had to quibble, we’d ask for the a tad less reach to the grips.

Riding the Bandit highlights how much Suzuki got right with its engine. Any twist of the throttle above 3500 rpm is greeted with instantaneous response. Despite the Bandit’s heft – and 567 lb. weight isn’t light – blue-light-inducing shenanigans are possible with very little effort. Suzuki’s tall gearing choices leave the tachometer loafing around 4100 rpm at 80 mph. On the interstate, this is ideal. In more twisty environments, fifth is a more reasonable gear. Suzuki likely made its gearing choice based on a desire to deliver sport-toury traveling distance. With our average fuel mileage of 36.8 mpg, the Bandit has a calculated range of 184 miles.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS action

The new half-fairing wraps around the radiator for a nice look while simultaneously directing most turbulence away from the rider.

However, no motorcycle is perfect, and the Bandit does have a couple of notable engine idiosyncrasies. First, it has trouble maintaining neutral throttle. Moving the grip the slightest bit results in the bike abruptly shifting from acceleration to deceleration. In fast corners, a higher gear selection reduces the effect. However, in first and second gear corners, the issue varies from a minor distraction to annoying. Try to maintain a constant speed, and you’ll be greeted with abrupt shifts from on- to off-throttle and back again. The good news is that the transmission has relatively little driveline lash and does not exacerbate the problem.

The Bandit’s accommodations highlight what makes standards so popular. The riding position is upright with a comfortable bend in the elbows as you reach for the tubular handlebar. The bar allows the rider good leverage on the grips and even makes some tweaking of the arm position possible by rotating the bar in the clamps. The rider’s feet rest directly below in a perfect position for unweighting your butt to absorb bumps with your legs, though riders with long legs may find the pegs just a tad high. The 32.5-in. seat offers just the right amount of firmness and enough room to move around on long rides. Shorter riders will appreciate that the seat height can be lowered to 31.7 in.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS engine

Tried-and-true is a good thing. This engine has been around for ages and has a bulletproof reputation. Still, Suzuki found time to include a new cylinder coating for more power. An overly abrupt throttle response takes a bit of the shine away, though.

The Bandit S’ new-for-2016 fairing provides the right balance of wind protection with displaying the mechanical good looks of the engine. Buffeting from the windshield has been reduced from the previous generation by a slot in the lower edge of the windscreen. Similarly, vents on either side of the headlight smooth the airflow past the rider’s torso. The fairing offers enough of a cooling breeze for hot days while still creating a pocket of still air that can be tucked into during cool weather. The upright riding position allows the rider to have a straight back at lower, around-town speeds, but allows leaning into the wind at highway speeds to take a little load off the back, making it easy to rack up the miles.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS instruments

The analog tachometer remains while the speedo is updated to a LCD unit.

The conventional 43mm fork is adjustable for preload only, while the shock goes one better by adding rebound damping. Although the focus is more on basic function and cost savings than flash, out on the road, they work just fine. The ride is a little on the soft side but not objectionably so. Get the Bandit on a twisty road, and it holds its own quite well. The wide bar gives enough leverage to make side-to-side transitions quick – if not immediate. The suspenders eat up bumps at elevated speeds without getting wallowy. In the midst of the action, you can almost forget that you’re riding a big 58.5 in. long, 567-lb. beast – until you have to push it around in your garage.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS seat

An adjustable-height seat in a price-driven model is a nice touch.

Thankfully, the brakes are more than capable of hauling the heft down from speed, though they are a bit lacking in feel. The front binders measure in at 310mm with four-piston Tokico calipers, while the rear wears a 240mm disc clamped by a single-piston Nissin caliper. Suzuki includes a Bosch two-channel, unlinked ABS unit based on the one originally developed for the GSX-R1000.

2016 Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS
+ Highs

  • Torque. And then more torque.
  • Effective new fairing design
  • All-day comfortable
– Sighs

  • Abrupt throttle transitions
  • Soft-ish suspension
  • Less than 100 hp

Another convenient feature on the Bandit comes at the lower end of the technology scale. The inclusion of a center stand illustrates how Suzuki outfitted this bike with practical (and relatively inexpensive) components that still provide value to the rider.

Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS static

The Bandit was built to do it all – over lots of miles – without bells or whistles that will drive up the MSRP. Still, Suzuki knows that the Bandit will appeal to a certain group of sport-touring riders. So, factory accessory bags are an available option. The Bandit 1250S ABS is available in Candy Darling Red (Really, Suzuki? This is a motorcycle, not My Little Pony.) and Glass Sparkle Black for $9,899.

2016 Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS Specifications
MSRP $9,899.00
Type 1255cc, liquid-cooled Inline-Four
Fuel System EFI; four 36mm throttle bodies with Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV)
Ignition Electronic
Valve Train DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Horsepower (claimed) 96.5 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque (claimed) 79.7 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Transmission/ Final drive 6-speed/ chain
Front Suspension 43mm Showa telescopic, coil spring, oil damped; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension Showa shock, coil over oil damper, link-style; preload and rebound adjustable; 5.4 in. travel
Front Brake 310mm floating dual discs, 4-piston Tokico calipers; ABS
Rear Brake 240mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper; ABS
Front Tire 120/70ZR17
Rear Tire 180/55ZR17
Wheelbase 58.5 in.
Rake/trail 25 deg./ 4.1 in. (117mm)
Seat Height 32.5 in. (31.7 in.)
Curb Weight (per BMW) 567 lb.
Fuel Capacity 5.0 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 36.8 mpg
Available Colors Candy Darling Red, Glass Sparkle Black
Warranty 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty

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  • Craig Hoffman

    The Bandit appears boring if compared to bikes that share it’s profile, but compare it to the cruisers in it’s same price range it looks great. For the same money has the Yamaha cruiser you just wrote about, one could be astride the torque bomb, comfortable and effortlessly thrusty Bandit.

    A friend had one of these and routinely got in the 45 mpg range too by the way in normal sporty/toury riding. I had to fill up my FZ1 every 150 miles or so, he had plenty of gas left. Famously reliable, the only way to break a Bandit is to crash it. Dale Walker can fix the “power problem” and smooth out that fueling too if the owner is so inclined 😉

    The Bandit is a great used bike buy, the problem is nobody buys them anymore. It is the Rodney Dangerfield of motorcycles. It gets no respect. Be that as it may, these are great bikes.

    • dinoSnake

      I checked a really nice, clean used recent 1250S out at my dealer before buying what I did. “Rodney Dangerfield” is right, but honestly there is a reason: the description in the story, “old school”, is pretty apt. It is a nice bike, great value for [the power] you get, but otherwise is seems that Suzuki just doesn’t want to spend much money adding a bit of polish and flair to the bike.

      The Yamaha cruiser you compare it to might have less power but there is more pride of ownership – well finished pieces, chrome, good paint and a (generally) nicely finished cockpit await the rider after you straddle the seat. The Bandit? Quite a bit less so, sadly.

      • Mike Johnson

        True, but in good used condition with low miles it would be a fantastic project candidate. If you tossed this mill into a cruiser frame you would have just about everything.

      • DW760

        You need to ride one for a day and I think you may change your mind.

    • DW760

      Hi Craig
      Your right, a Bandit 1250 gets 44 to over 50 MPG down hill with the wind ..ha ha. Even with my stage 1 or 2 tune, and making 25 to 27 more HP, my customers still get 40 to 42 MPG. Cheers Dale

  • spiff

    So what if you took the “comfortable, could sport tour, ride to work, take the long way home” kind of bikes and pit them against each other. I would like to see the group gathered by MSRP though. There are a fair amount of people who are in a dealership looking at bikes, and grouping them by price. You should have a “jack of all trades” comparison. Cruiser, standard, adventure, etc. Displacement shouldn’t be a big deal because 1/4 won’t matter. Though a smaller displacement could benefit from lighter weight. I like reading about the “other ones”. Keep riding them for us.

    • Old MOron

      Spiff, I upvoted you, and I’m with you – except for the cruiser part.

      • spiff

        Yeah, you’re right. I had a vison of a Guzzi California, or something like that. It is too expensive anyway. Maybe a Griso.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      I think the Versys 1000 would sweep that competition.

      • spiff

        I’m at work, so I don’t have time now, but I’m going to come up with a list of bikes for you.

        • spiff

          So I’m obviously slacking. It’s up to MO to get it done. Two classes: $8-10k and $10-12k. Pick a winner from each then pit them against each other. The 8-10k winner could get a handicap. You get to spend the difference in MSRP on cool accessories or chrome. Also, no two bike from the same class. Pick from class/shoot out winners, even (forgive me Old MOron)cruisers.

      • DW760

        For the money I may agree with you since you sure get allot with the V 1000, if a rider is set on buying new.

    • DW760

      I think the new Suzuki GSX-1000 will be a better all around bike for $10 grand, but it will never match the low and mid range grunt the 1250 puts out. I call it the best utility motor ever made.

  • Born to Ride

    I would love to see a comparison of this bike to Honda’s do-it-all retro standard. I think the CB1100 and this Bandit would line up nicely in a head to head.

  • Mike Johnson

    I will have to look this dyno chart up. This is definitely a candidate though a lower torque peak would be even better. What the World needs is a 4 banger like this with a 3500 rpm torque peak. Flat from 2000 to 5500 rpm as well.
    Tip on the Versys 1000 was good too. I want to build a really torquey 4 banger like a Harley without all the bills and roadside problems.

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    “The beating heart of the Bandit is a collection of old school-technology that has been repeatedly polished to its current state of understressed brilliance.”

    Nice!

    • DW760

      That’s right Gabe, and you can remove about 35 lbs with a wrench, Buy a used low mileage stock bike for $4000, invest $2000 to $2500 and have the best 130 HP and huge torque you will ever ride for the money spent. That would also cover a few suspension updates. Great Bike and a sleeper trust me.

  • disqus_AZhfLxI5Rc

    I have a GSX1250FA that is almost the same machine. Assuming the engine and gearing (but I realize not the aerodynamics) are the same how did he achieve only 36.8 mpg? I realize professional motorcycle reviewers run their loaned bikes hard but couldn’t the bike be ridden for one-tank-of-gas at legal and reasonable speeds to get a real world gas mileage result? The worst mileage I ever got on my bike was 41.5 and I consistently get 45. My highest was 54.
    It was mentioned the handlebars are wide. Maybe compared to full-on sport bikes but in use they are too narrow for the weight of the bike, especially with hard luggage installed and packed. The “sport-touring” bars from holeshot.com are wider and a huge improvement.
    The GSX1250FA comes with a gear position indicator; Suzuki deleted it for the Bandit. Not a deal breaker but it could have been noted. I sure like it on mine.
    I have to say that if I were 25 years old I wouldn’t have appreciated this bike as it has no screaming top end rush, is somewhat heavy, and relatively boring. But I love it as a mature rider.

    • DW760

      Do my stage 2 tune even with a slip on Louis, you want believe the gains achieved. Thanks Dale

  • SRMark

    A great blank canvas. A wise purchase for sure. A great wife-of-a-bike. A true Accord or Camry. How do you market that?

  • Old MOron

    “When E-i-C Kevin Duke sent out an email asking the MO staff for a list of good bikes…”

    Okay, so good ol’ Evans was the first MOron to respond to the Duke and to write up a story. But we’ll be hearing from the other MOronic editors, too, right?

    • Evans Brasfield

      Yep, all subject to motorcycle availability.

  • Douglas

    If it were only a shafty……with an early Concours-style fairing….sigh

    • Mack Knife

      Find a 2000-2002 Triumph Trophy 1200/4. The engine in the Trophy does all the Bandit does and then some with more torque right where you want it. Some very simple parts swap with the Daytona and getting 130+ HP is easily accomplished.

  • Chris

    Kill some weight; add fully adjustable, quality, if older, suspension components; and fix the FI mapping to kill the surging at steady throttle and the on-off throttle abruptness and I’m all in. We should be able to do that in this day and age w/o (much of) a price bump.

    • Jim Heller

      I have had two 07 Bandits…..never a problem with surging throttle issues.

      • Chris

        Never owned one. Just reporting questioning what he reported…however he worded it; something about surging, neutral throttle, on-off transition. Shouldn’t be happening in a “refined” bike w/this many years into it. Maybe it’s a new something because of emissions requirements.

        • ThatGuy88

          I doubt it’s a new issue. My 2008 Suzuki GSX-650F has the same exact issue.

          • Chris

            As I said, I’ve never had one. Just going on reports: some say it does it, others say it doesn’t
            . In any event, it shouldn’t oughtta’ be…Welcome to life.

          • DW760

            Super minor and easy to fix guys.
            DW

          • Chris

            …but shouldn’t have to be on a new bike, that’s been out for this long, for that much money. To each his/her own, for sure.

      • ThatGuy88

        I have a 2008 Suzuki GSX650F aka a faired Bandit 650 that shares this frame and just has a smaller displacement version of the same engine. The abrupt throttle is a real pain in the wrist. Maintaining speed in any gear in the 4000-5000 rpm range i.e. 40-50 mph in 5th or 6th gear is a nightmare. It’s a very abrupt on off from slight acceleration to sharp engine braking. It’s been the Achilles heel of this bike since I bought it almost 6 years ago.

        • Jim Heller

          I know some people have removed the secondary butterflies on the 1250 engine. Some say it smoothes the throttle response. Do you know if this is a mod on the smaller displacement versions?

          • Ghost-Rider25

            I did this very thing on my GSX1250FA and it worked beautifully. It’s the only engine mod I have done in 5 years of ownership. Don’t need to do anything else! 63,000 miles later she still runs like new. I love this bike.

          • DW760

            Someday you may want to complete the package and do my stage 2 tune Ghost. Opening up the back of the air box, K&N and my tuner yields about 6 to 8 hp, smoother running and more torque. On the other hand you may not want to touch it. Cheers Dale

          • DW760

            Mistake without the proper matching tune. They are to lean in the 2000 to 3400 rpm range Jim.

        • DW760

          Totally different animal, the 1250 hardly has it at all 88.

      • john mature puss

        interestingly, my 2014 Vstrom 1000 has a touchy throttle at low speeds as well. I wonder if Mr Suzuki is having trouble adjusting to ever more stringent exhaust requirements which mean a bike has to run very lean at nearly zero throttle.

        • DW760

          I have the new DL 1000A dialed in John. Cheers Dale

      • DW760

        Your right, its very very minor Jim.

    • DW760

      Throttle surging is super minor on a bone stock 1250, but is easy taken care of. Weight is easily removed, fully adjustable suspension is to expensive, but the stock forks work very well properly valves with new spring rates, and a brace. The rear shock must be replaced. That’s it really.

      • Chris

        I hear ya’. My take, OTOH? That shouldn’t be required on a new, $10K’ish, older tech, “proven” bike. Shouldn’t oughtta’ be…

        • DW760

          That’s why I mentioned above for the money the new GSX-1000 will be a better bike if buying new. But now that the 1250 has been around since 2007, they are great to buy all stock used and make your own. With a $6500 to $7000 total investment you wont believe how good you can make one, and nothing in this price range matches this great engine as far as useable power.

          • Chris

            Yep, been looking for a good used one for some time now. Eyes always open. Aas (as you may have guessed by now), I’m a picky fellow. Still looking…The GSX-S1K is an interest also. Also has an on-off throttle abruptness, apparently. And I heard of a weaker low-mid response than desired. It also runs higher revs than I care at highway speeds. I do love practical, low-mid torque and power. It’s much more important to me these days than speed. Been searching for the “perfect” bike for decades now. I realize I’ll never find it, but it’s a great game! And some are definitely better than others. And, even that, changes over time.

          • DW760

            You really believe to much that you read Chris. The new GSX 1000 will have plenty of low end power, being it has mild cams and so on to help it be mild mannered, and is based on the 05-06 GSX-R engine. I bet I can get close to 150 HP at the rear wheel, with a good spread of torque, when I get my Holeshot / Arrow header done along with my tuner, but for now that’s just a good guess. I hope to be getting to do just that this summer. But it will never match the 1250 in the low end power just due to its CC advantage. All of them should at least have a pipe and proper tune IMO, to achieve their potential even in stock form. The 1250 is the best used bike bargain to make your own in my book. Cheers Dale Walker

          • Chris

            As I can’t ride every bike, I’m stuck w/what’s reported in many instances. I read it w/a grain of salt, try to cooberate info w/multiple sources, and I surely understand there is no perfect bike. Still, I shouldn’t have to do basic things to a brand new bike to make it “right,” especially when it’s not a bargain-basement beginner bike. FI mapping, workable suspension, real-world drive-ability, and the like, should be done from the manufacturer.

            I do exhaust on most bikes, but that’s a preference thing. It’s not needed to make the bike function properly. To each his/her own, for sure; no harm, no foul. I just think we’ve gotten to accepting of basic functions that don’t do what they oughtta’ do from the factory.

            Of course, for you, I’m sure that’s all opportunity and basic stuff. I don’t wrench or like to tinker. A little more performance, OTOH, gets a lot of my money. Again, all good.

  • TheMarvelous1310 .

    For the record, Glass Sparkle Black sounds way more like a My Little Pony name than Candy Darling Red, which sounds like a Strawberry Shortcake… Not that I’d know anything about either.

    • john mature puss

      the Brits with their 2002 “nuclear red” Speed Triple 955i made pink sound explosive and masculine. The Japanese still think “cutesy cute” which means their descriptions don’t always translate well in our parts of the world

  • John

    I’m looking forward to a commuter type comparo. I commute 36 miles one way in a basically straight line at 60mph with semis. I feel like this bike would be almost perfect. Its a good value, good wind protection, decent gas mileage but still fun on the backroads on the weekend. but the fj09 would also be a contender along with the klr, fz-06, smaller ninjas, etc.

  • halfkidding

    If you simply must have a do all bike that is big and powerful enough to swallow states that is cheap and new then this is it. If your content with used however then the choices abound.

  • Vrooom

    Your 2 color options are called darling and sparkle? Where was the marketing department? Deathwing and Machete sound like better adjectives. I guess I’ll take the darling. Sigh

    • john mature puss

      lol. In an American market which loves names like Big Dog, Victory Hammer, Kingpin and Magnum I think the names of these paint colours could have been better chosen

  • Ted

    I thought they were water cooled now?

    • therr850

      They have been since the move from the Bandit 1200S to the 1250S in ’07. Either that or I’ve got really thin green oil in mine. Also, I routinely get 47mpg to 51mpg but I’m not much of a squid. My owners manual list the “Dry Weight” at 496 pounds. Adding fluids and a battery is mid five hundred pound range. In my experience, anything under six hundred pounds is totally acceptable for an all around ride and sport tourer. Also, the slot at the base of the windshield was added with the’07 model.

  • Ghost-Rider25

    It’s nice to see the Bandit back in the lineup. Suzuki should get the word out and market this bike better then they are. I don’t think anyone even knows that the bike is back! I have the 2011 GSX125FA and I love it. This bike is fast, nimble, economical, gets greeat fuelly (I get 43mpg MINIMUM, approaching 50 if I use good throttle discipline) and just does everything well. It’s an absolute blast to ride. Remove the secondary butterflies and rework the suspension and it’s damn near perfect. I will say I like my full fairing and digital cluster as opposed to the bikini fairing and analog gages. But the analog setup gives it a nice retro look. If you have never ridden one of these, well, you should!

    • DW760

      That’s right Ghost many poo poo a Bandit 1250 due to the spec charts. Ride one for a day and fall in love with that engine with wonderful, useable low and mid range grunt.

  • DW760

    Hi Guys, the 1250 is one of the best used buy bikes of all time. I will chime in on a few of your comments below. Cheers Dale Walker

  • Jamo11

    I would just like cruise control and self cancelling indicators on this motorcycle. The 1982/3 GS 1100E had self cancelling indicators, they worked fine, still do, and I don’t know why they aren’t around.

    • Colonel Matumbo

      yeeeeehaaaa its “jam-ho” The Trump Rump !
      Viva Planned Parenthood !!
      see ya around Pooki.

  • Sea Sick
    • Evans Brasfield

      Good sleuthing! You’re right, that’s what the site says now, but since I copy and paste items for the spec chart from either the factory’s press materials or web site, I’ll stick to my guns, even though I can’t prove it and haven’t been able to find a spec sheet pdf in the files I used for the article. However, I do have a little proof in a screen capture from the media kit Power Point presentation to back me up.

      Perhaps the name was simply a typo in the presentation, but since copy/paste is such an integral part of my spec chart prep, I think the same typo must have on the web site, and the mistake has since been found and corrected.

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

      • Sea Sick

        HAHA! That’s funny. Now I’m wondering if they (Suzuki) changed it or it was a typo on their part. It’s not really a MANLY red though…maybe it IS supposed to be darling red…

  • Mack Knife

    The days of the heavy do-it-all are over and have been for a few years. 560 pounds? Get rid of 60-70 pounds and you don’t need a huge displacement in-line four to do the job. Suzuki forgot to watch what sells and the Bandit was never a hot seller.

    Its a fantastic bike for 2008. Once again, Suzuki will be stuck with Bandits sitting on dealership floors that don’t sell because there are only so many buyers who want a generalist 560 pound big engine bike with mediocre fuel economy, expensive accessories that is just as much to buy as far more capable and appealing middle weight bikes like the FJ09. Can you say Chevy Caprice anyone?