Tony wrote to our Questions page seeking advice as to what bike to buy. He was riding a Kawasaki ZX6R, and was finding that the sporty riding-position was becoming a problem, with the weight placed on his hands and wrists. So he was looking for something with a more up-right riding-position. He first looked mainly at other bikes in the 600cc category. His first choice was the Yamaha FZ6, but then as he looked further, he was offered a Suzuki Bandit for the same ride-away price as the FZ6. When he wrote he was leaning towards the Bandit, with the only concern being the extra weight; the big Suzi being about 40kg heavier than his Kwaka sports. But he said, “I don't think it will be a problem though, as I am 182cm tall and almost 100kg, so I think I will manage it easy enough.” He described himself as being not a racer, but still enjoying some spirited riding. He said, “Basically I am after a fun bike that will cruise, and handle some of the twisties that I like.” He was pretty much decided on the Bandit anyway at that stage, but asked, “Please tell me that I should buy the Bandit, as I need to hear it from someone else. Does that make sense?” Well, it did make sense; the decision as to what bike to buy can be a difficult one. (I should know, I spent nearly a year deciding!). My recommendation? Well, I won’t repeat my whole reply here, but I was happy to recommend the Bandit. On paper, the Yamaha might have been the obvious choice, being about the same size and weight as the Kawasaki, but having a more user-friendly riding-position. As I said to him, the Bandit is a very different bike to the FZ6, and also to the ZX6R he was used to; and would also require a different approach to riding it. But in my opinion the Bandit met the criterion as a bike that would “cruise and handle the twisties” probably a little better than the FZ6; mainly in the area of cruising. Like most mid-size bikes these days, the FZ is a bit under-geared for what I call relaxed cruising. I recommended he have a good ride on the Bandit before deciding, but as he seemed pretty well decided on the Bandit anyway, I was happy to encourage him on that path. Anyway, whether my recommendation helped or not, the decision was made to buy the Bandit. I’ll let Tony take up the story from here. After I had basically decided to purchase a brand new Suzuki Bandit, I thought that I had better have a look at the bike I was going to purchase, and also get a trade-in price on my 1996 ZX6R so I knew exactly how much money I had to spend. It was a warm sunny Saturday morning early in December, I was about to ride 130km to Whittlesea to look at a 1250 Bandit that I would eventually end up owning. I left my home at approximately 7.30am; the air was crisp, the sky blue with no clouds to be seen. I thought, “Now this has to be a good sign!” The ZX6R was running smoothly and there was very little traffic around. I rode for 20km to meet up with a mate who was riding with me that day, who had recently purchased a Harley Davidson, and we headed off, enjoying what was to be a beautiful day of riding. We arrived in Whittlesea at about 9am. The salesman, who was expecting us, proceeded to do a trade-in evaluation on my ZX6R, and suggested I go in the showroom and have a look at the Bandit while they did the evaluation. I walked into the showroom and not far from the door was the Bandit, all clean, shiny and black. At this stage I really wasn’t that excited; it looked nice but didn’t really stand out. I stood and looked for a few minutes and then sat on the bike. I knew this was going to be a reasonably comfy bike as I had sat on one at the Melbourne Motorcycle Expo. It felt heavy, but I had just ridden 130km on a bike that was more than 40kg lighter so of course it was going to feel heavy. I got off the bike and they started it for me. It ran very quietly, very well muffled. I thought if I buy this bike I will have to fix that problem! Well, after looking at the bike for 30 minutes and umming and arring quite a bit, I was offered a further $200 off the price, which was already a great price but now became even better! I decided to sleep on the offer, so I left the shop and we both headed off for a ride. Seeing as it was a great day we didn’t want to waste it! We rode through the townships of Kinglake West, and Flowerdale and headed back toward home. At the time I am writing this (February 2009), the CFA and emergency services are currently cleaning up the aftermath of the horrific bushfires that ravaged these beautiful towns. My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy. After thinking about it all weekend I headed back to work on Monday, still not having made a decision. The salesman rang to ask if I had made a decision, and I told him I was still undecided. He was very good, as he never got pushy; he was just happy for me to make a decision in my own time. I asked if I could ring him back, he said yes and the conversation ended. Within two minutes I had made the decision that I had really already made a few days earlier; I wanted a new Bandit! I rang the salesman back and told him I wanted the bike, and he said, “That was quick!” But I think in my own mind I had already made the choice, I just couldn’t bring myself to say “Yes I want that bike!” The agreement was made to pick up the bike the following weekend, so from then on it became a very long week of waiting!
Time to Pickup the new bike!
Saturday was meant to rain. I woke up at 6.30am, got up and looked out the window, and saw rain. Now it's good to see rain, as we need lots of it to replenish our lakes and river systems, but not on this particular day! So I did what most people would probably do on a wet cold Saturday morning, I went back to bed! I eventually got up at 8am and thought, I'll be right! Had a quick breakfast, got the wet weather gear on and headed off for Whittlesea in the rain. I stopped about 20km down the road to get fuel, and looked out at the rain which had gotten quite heavy; no turning back now! I rode straight through to Whittlesea, my wet weather gear working a treat, keeping me very dry and warm. At this stage it wasn’t raining in Whittlesea, and I was looking forward to getting on the new Bandit and heading for home. The dealer had everything ready and all I had to do was sign the paper-work, hand over the cheque and be on my way. But in the 20 minutes it took to do this, it began to rain, and rain heavy! I thanked the salesman, hopped on the Bandit, waved goodbye to the ZX6R and rode out the door. I sat waiting for traffic at the main road feeling nervous about riding a new bike, and riding a new bike in rain that was heavier than any rain I had seen in the previous 10 years! The first 30 minutes of the ride home was not something I would like to repeat! My wet weather gear was good, but not good enough to repel what was being thrown at me. I ended up getting quite wet, and extremely cold. I wasn’t taking any notice of the bike or the ride, all I wanted to do was get home! After riding for 1 1/2 hours I was happy to get home, but by this time I had developed a migraine, so I parked the bike in the shed, went inside to have a hot shower, a couple of panadeine and a lie down in a dark room to recover.
My First Day Out on the New Bandit.
Through the week a friend (the Harley rider) and I had decided to take a run down to Geelong to visit the Harley Davidson shop and also visit a few of the other bike shops nearby. There was a little apprehension about this ride as it was going to be my first major outing on my new motorcycle. As it turned out, it would end up being a round trip of about 450km! I awoke early, a little nervous about the day to come, had breakfast and got my riding gear on, headed out to the shed and started the Bandit. All was good, as I had done some checks the night before to ensure the bike was ready to roll. I headed towards our meeting point which was about 20km away. I took it steady sitting around 90kph enjoying the cool sunny morning air. I arrived at the meeting point right on time and my friend was already waiting. He had asked one of his friends to join us also (another Harley rider). After the introductions we headed off, me being the lucky one to lead us for the first part of the trip. The roads we took were not the most direct route, we had decided to take a more scenic enjoyable route as there was no rush to be anywhere at any particular time. The roads we took were varied, consisting of twisties, long sweeping corners, hills and freeways as well as city traffic; so all up, the Bandit really got to prove its worth on its maiden voyage! Seeing as the Bandit was on the first phase of its run-in period, I had to keep below 4,000 rpm; although this certainly wasn’t a problem as the torque factor of this bike is huge, with its peak torque coming in around 3,700 rpm. Now, having come off a 600cc sports bike, I thought that this bike may have been a lot to contend with through the corners, but that wasn’t the case. I found the Bandit was extremely smooth into corners, always going where I asked it to; and it did it effortlessly. Hills were never a problem and probably never would be; even if you had a pillion and luggage it would still pull up the hills with no trouble at all. Freeway cruising is no effort either. Sitting on 3,500 rpm at 110kph there was very little (if any) vibration, and wind was held at bay by the small but effective screen. The suspension is probably a little firm but I prefer it that way, it allows you to push through the corners a little harder than normal. The suspension is preload adjustable front and rear so it can be set up for your style of riding; but I have left my settings at the factory presets as I am quite happy with that. I had traveled just over 200km and the fuel gauge light was flashing at me. I thought this was a bit strange, but when I fueled up it only took 10 litres to fill the tank, which meant I still had 9 litres left in the tank. Maybe Suzuki don’t want their customers running out of fuel and being stranded on the side of the road! So theoretically the Bandit would be good for 380km, although I would not like to put this to the test. The Bandit’s instruments are easy to read with an analogue tacho and a large LCD digital speedo which is easily read at a glance. The trip counter reset and clock set buttons are hard to get at with gloves on but not impossible. One thing I did find is that I occasionally pushed the horn button when operating the blinkers. (Remember that was something I commented on! Elwyn). This happened about three times for the whole trip, not a major problem but slightly embarrassing when in city traffic and everybody looks at you! I have found the side stand to be a little hard to get at; not a major concern but sometimes if you are looking for the stand in a hurry it’s not always easy to find. One thing I didn’t like is the exhaust, and the fact you couldn’t hear the bike running. Now this isn’t always a bad thing, but I do like to hear what my engine is doing!
The Search for the new Exhaust.
I was keen to get a new muffler (the stock muffler, apart from being quiet, is also very heavy). I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so I felt that the more well known brands (Yoshimura, Akrapovic, etc) were going to be out of the picture as they were going to be just too expensive. I thought I may have been able to get something from overseas a little cheaper, so I began checking some of the forums around the world. I found a forum in the UK called (oddly enough) “The Suzuki Bandit Forum”, so I looked through that to try and find out what everyone was putting on their bikes in the UK. One brand that got a number of positive mentions was Beowulf Performance Products. These guys make their own mufflers in-house in the UK. So after throwing out the question of “What should I get?” and getting a number of responses saying Beowulf was the “Bees Knees,” I thought I would email them to find out more. I also checked out You-tube and found a video of a gentleman who had just swapped his standard muffler for a stainless 450mm oval can, and it sounded fantastic! So that was it, I couldn’t resist it and ordered one that evening. The best part about all this was the price, at $400 AUD delivered to your door within 5 days from the UK, that’s hard to beat! Fitting time was only around 30 minutes, and extremely easy. I am reasonably mechanically minded but this was about as easy as checking the oil in your car. “Well what does it sound like?” I hear you ask. The Beowulf produces a deep rorty note. At idle it’s reasonably quiet, but with a few revs it sounds awesome, without being too loud. Whilst traveling at cruising speed it’s almost as quiet as the stock muffler, so you are not left with that noise rolling around in your head. If you would like to hear what this sounds like, go to You-tube and type in “Bandit Beowulf exhaust” and you will get an idea of what I mean.
So my Overall opinion?
I love this bike! It's got it all; it does everything with ease. Yes, there are the little things that bother me, like the side stand I mentioned earlier, but that is a minor issue and one I can happily live with considering what the rest of the bike is like. I did put an LED stop / tail light in to try and increase the brightness of the stop light, which I believe I have done by about 20%, but that was more to do with safety then anything else. The more time I spend riding this bike, the more I love it. I am planning a tour in March, 2009, and when I return I will report on how the Bandit performed and let you know how much more I love this bike! Thanks should go to The Old Bloke for producing a web site that is both informative and enjoyable to read. Well Done! So, there you are; sounds like a happy customer! When you change types of bike it can take a bit of getting used to; and even cause you to doubt your decision. It's obvious in this case that Tony made the right choice. Good to see! Oh, and thank you for your kind words, Tony; much appreciated.
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