The Bandit is back.
Why create a whole new upright sport-tourer to compete with the Ducati Multistrada and Yamaha FJ-09 when you have a beloved one sitting on your roster? Suzuki and our lovely bearded Renaissance man, Lemmy, would say there is no reason at all. Is the market ready for the return of el Bandito grande?
The 2016 Suzuki Bandit 1250S is not a new model. It was initially released as a 2011 model, and was later discontinued in 2014. While this may seem like cause for concern, I actually really support that Suzuki is willing to create models for a more niche market, and then do them for short runs every few years. This lets them build niche bikes in efficient production numbers without flooding dealers with excess inventory. That is, after all, the only way my Suzuki DR-Z400SM is able to exist.
The Bandit is powered by a 1,255 cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four that makes 100 horsepower and 78.5 foot-pounds of torque, very streetable numbers when compared to something like the Yamaha FZ1's 130 horsepower and 66 foot-pounds.
The Bandit 1250S really is one of the last of the UJMs. It looks, on paper and to the naked eye, like a bike designed purely in the pursuit of function, not form, and that’s why it was so popular with a small but avid segment of riders (especially bigger guys) who wanted a relatively low-cost but full-sized bike that’s capable of sport-touring, commuting or any other use on pavement. Meanwhile, it seems no priority was given to styling.
The six-speed gearbox, counterbalance shaft, and dual throttle valves are aimed at helping fuel economy, smoothing engine revs and power, and providing a smoother feel. While it still doesn't have shaft drive (yes piglet2010, we know you still won't ride one), everything else on the bike makes it fully capable of sport-touring duty.
The rear shock works on a progressive, rising-rate link system and is adjustable for rebound damping and spring preload, while the front is only preload adjustable. Braking power comes from dual floating 310 mm discs in front and a single 240 mm disc at the rear. ABS comes standard. It will be available in red and black later this summer, with an MSRP of $9,899.
Whether Suzuki decided to just give the Bandit a year or two off with the intention of bringing it back, or the latest crop of upright sport-touring bikes helped encourage them, we're glad it's back. I'd love to see other brands follow suit and skip a year of production if it allows them to create more niche products. Then, just maybe, someday I'll get to buy a Honda CRF450L.