The Suzuki Bandit is a street motorcycle that has been produced by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corporation since 1989. The Bandit has been offered in dozens of different editions under seven Series headings. It's performance and affordability make the Suzuki Bandit a popular choice for stunt riders as well as entry-level motorcycle buyers.
The first Suzuki Bandits were produced in 1989 and sold in 1990 as 1991 models. The Bandit replaced Suzuki's GS series of motorcycles, which were discontinued in 1987. The Suzuki GS had been responsible for popularising Japanese motorcycles in the United States, and the Bandit was designed to retain and advance this reputation. The original Suzuki Bandit was available in two models: the GSF250, which features a 250cc engine, and the GSF400, with a 40cc engine. These engines produced 45 and 59 horsepower, respectively. These engines were derived from the earlier GS line but otherwise the Bandit was an all-new motorcycle.
All versions of the Suzuki Bandit are powered by an inline 4-cylinder engine with 16 valves and dual overhead cams. Starting with the Bandit GSF250 and GSF400, each model was named for its engine displacement. Early models like the 250 and 400 were water-cooled, but later versions of the Bandit used Suzuki's "Advanced Cooling System," which combines air-cooling and oil-cooling. Suzuki Bandits employ disc brakes. They are built on trellis steel frames. All of these features became common following the introduction of the Bandit. As newer models have been released, Suzuki has made relatively few changes in an effort to keep costs down, allowing the Bandit to appeal to first-time motorcycle buyers.
Suzuki would follow the original 250 and 400 Bandits with five more model categories. The GSF600 was available between 1995 and 2004. It was replaced by the GSF650 for 2005. Beginning in 1996, Suzuki also sold the GSF750 (discontinued in 1999) and the GSF1200 (still in production in 2009, and one of the most popular Bandit models). The top-tier model, the GSF1250, went on sale in 2007. Since the early 1990s, the Suzuki Bandit has gradually progressed from a sport bike toward a touring model, with refined aerodynamics, suspension and engine tuning.
Most model classes of the Suzuki Bandit have been available in a number of editions. "N" models are the base level and come with only minimal bodywork and a single headlight. "S" models typically feature half fairings and dual headlights. Motorcycle enthusiasts refer to these two distinct trim levels as "nakes" and "half faired." Anti-lock brakes were offered on some "S" models, adding the ABS moniker to their name. The Suzuki Bandit has been offered in a host of colours. Aftermarket modifications, offered by Suzuki and others, add the chance for owners to differentiate their bikes even further. The 1200 models became popular with show riders and were subject to numerous revisions to make them capable of performing stunts.
Reaction and Reputation
Although the Suzuki Bandit has become more refined over time, its reputation remains a motorcycle for young, aggressive drivers. Some riders and critics have blasted the Bandit for its lack of refinements or the absence of new technological features. Suzuki has defended its decision to keep the Bandit "pure" and sales have remained strong even as the Bandit entered its third decade or production. Low prices and the availability of new models with increasing levels of power have allowed it to keep pace with new models from American and Japanese competitors.