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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ||– Sighs |
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.
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|
|Type||1255cc, liquid-cooled Inline-Four|
|Fuel System||EFI; four 36mm throttle bodies with Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV)|
|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|
|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|