Grunt. Shove. Push. Usable Power. Keep your horsepower high-output statistics, because what the new Suzuki Bandit 1250S has in spades is torque. A maximum 79 lb.ft of it achieved at a mere 3700rpm… read that again please then repeat after me, “Maximum torque at 3700RPM.” That means you have you choice of gears off the line, which is good because testing that point I’m out on a ride… one handed.
I’d never have gotten away with this on the previous Bandit 1200S. True, the engine was a monument to flexibility and longevity, with a lineage reaching back to the 1980 GS1100, but it put out 67 lb-ft at a comparatively lofty 6500rpm on the dial. Sure, you could pull off the line in third gear but it would lug. This new liquid cooled 1250 plant? Lugging need not apply.
As it turns out, that’s quite far, almost the entirety of the ride especially if you’re willing to remain in third and “break the rules” by pulling in the clutch at stops. This isn’t my only test ride of the new Bandit 1250S, but strangely it may be the most telling.
The new engine is stunningly flexible, massively usable and a lot smoother than the previous air-cooled 1200. The new 6-speed transmission, gains a ratio over the previous Bandit, and is a smooth shifting affair. It even takes well to clutchless upshifts, not that most 1250S owners would, but they could.
Then there’s the handling. Giving the group a good head start, the Bandit 1250S and I are nipping though a series of tight twists though narrow Mission back roads, with the bike’s host of upgrades showing their chops. This new Bandit has a stiffer chassis thanks to main sections of the tubular-steel frame being 4mm larger in diameter – 10% more rigid the lab coats say. The swingarm is longer adding traction and stability, but the “nip through traffic” wheel base length is unchanged thanks to the shorter engine. The suspension is firmer front and back, and let us put that in the huge improvement category over the previous Bandit’s soft pogo sticks.
The result of all this is cornering composure that the prior generation of Bandit never dreamed of. The tip in is light and easy, the transition from side to side is aided by the leverage provided by the wide upright bars, and the upright and comfortable seating position gives you a commanding view of the sightlines. Even one handed the corners are easily executed, not that we’d ever recommend such things.
When it comes to stopping the 1250S is equally improved, dual four-piston Tokico front calipers are strong and progressive, and our test unit had the optional ABS (a $500.00 option). The system didn’t cut in as early as our previous 2006 Bandit 600S ABS testers, though that may be a function of improved rubber. When the active the anti-lock isn’t as refined as other offerings from the likes of Honda, but then looking at the Bandit 1250S ABS’s $11,299 CDN / $8,799.00 USD sticker helps one move past the feel… and move past quickly.
Ewan McGregor was quoted in the November 2005 issue of TWO as saying, “I’ve gotten rid of my sportbikes because I ride mainly in London – and I don’t like riding a sportbike in London, it’s horrible. Whereas the Bandit’s awesome…”
Those accolades wouldn’t likely be changing with the new 1250S, because everything that makes the 1200 a great city bike is here and improved. Perhaps Ewan will be trading up? Thankfully, be it by design or serendipity, the Bandit even tips over well, as one driver was kind enough to demonstrate by knocking over our parked tester with her car. The damage? A scratched pipe, bar end, peg, and clutch lever… the Bandit 1250S remained eminently ride-able post tip-over – so off to the MotoGP section of the Sea-to-Sky it went.
Out on open road the Bandit 1250 S is perfectly happy to sail up to 140mph/225kph, but you’ll be tucked behind the miniscule and far forward windscreen at that point. More likely you’ll simply put the 1250S in 6th and schmooze along vibelessly in the neighborhood of 4000rpm with plenty of pull to pass. Yes, “vibelessly” (despite having dubious status as a word in the English language) fits, Suzuki has banished the dreaded Bandit buzz though the bars and pegs, though some remains through the plush, broad and comfortable seat. Which is adjustable to two height settings, 790mm or 810mm, with about 10-20 minutes of cursing.
The new Suzuki Bandit 1250 S is improved in almost every way over the previous bike… except for looks. At a glance you’d be hard pressed to tell the 2007 liquid-cooled bike from its air-cooled 2006 predecessor. The Bandit though has been a strong seller in Europe, and Suzuki may be on to something, why change what already works? Instead Suzuki has invested in what really counts with the Bandit 1250 S, beauty may be skin deep, but refinement runs through and through the new bike.