SUZUKI GSF1200 BANDIT (1996-2006) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"One of biking's true bargains"

Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding

"One of biking's true bargains"

  • At a glance
  • 1152cc  -  100 bhp
  • 35 mpg  -  130 miles range
  • Medium seat height (835mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit is one of biking's true bargains. Grunty Suzuki GSX-R1100 derived engine, decent handling for its day and simple to tune up should you require more lairy A roads fun. The 2000 onwards GSF1200 Bandit's are more touring based, bit softer, but the finish is slightly better.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit was never the best handling big retro around in the 90s and the 2000 onwards modifications made the bike feel even mushier, more vague, when pushed hard on bumpy roads. The GSF1200 Badnit is more stable than the GSF600 Bandit, especially at the front end, but it's no Suzuki GSX-R750 that's for sure.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine in the Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit a really tough, torquey old motor from the 80s and by simply junking the stock end can on the 1996-99 Suzuki Bandits you can get another 15bhp from it - handy. Later versions are slightly better on fuel and have a tougher clutch.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

The overall finish on the early Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit wasn't great. The bikes look shabby pretty quickly and although the engine wears well, the suspension and braking need regular attention or the bike begins to handle like a Lambrini girl on a hen night.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

There are loads of GSF1200 Bandits to choose from on the used market and for relatively low money, you get a versatile motorcycle which can commute in the week, then let you play silly buggers at the weekend. The original Suzuki GSF1200N Bandit still has a certain raw-edged, brutal charm. Find a Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit for sale.

Insurance group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Suspension and braking are adequate on the Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit, but nothing special. The six pot calipers on the 2000 onwards bikes are loads better. The later Suzuki GSF1200S Bandit is a comfortable semi-tourer, and has stainless steel downpipes, decent lighting, bigger half fairing.

Owners' Reviews

37 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI GSF1200 BANDIT (1996-2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great Bike Properly Tuned

16 June 2014 by dwfree

The 1200 Bandit is nothing special stock, but modified correctly it's the best value out there. The engine is easy - jet kit, exh can, big hole in the airbox, then one has to know how to tune carbs. Suspension - revalve forks, custom shock highly... Read more recommended, raise the rear 1-1/2" for quicker handling. With these changes it will handle as well as anything out there, and the engine will make 120 hp 80 #-ft torque from 4400to7500 rpm. Nothing else out there with that king of torque in that rev range - perfect for the street. All that at a very affordable price! I've had my '97 for 15 yrs and 55k of the 60k miles on the clock. I did have to replace 3rd gear (broken tooth) so it gets knocked down some for that.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

great bike

24 March 2014 by daibandit12

after riding and owning a large number of bikes for over 40 years i wanted a more upright riding position but still a bike with a fair amount of power and i must say the bandit lived up to both. I bought a 2004 1200S with 8000 miles on the clock in... Read more very good condition one owner and good history for just over £2000 and in the last year have done over 4000 miles on weekends and days off from work and must say i have loved every mile.It pulls like a train,is more than fast enough for todays camera infested roads and is comfortable one or two up my wife reckons it is more comfortable on the back than my previous bike which was a vfr800 and i must say i prefer it myself. Overall a very easy bike to ride and to work on with good build quality and looks like a bike should

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

My Great Find!!!

01 December 2013 by BRACK73RT

I bought my bike with 7488 miles on the odometer and paid $2500 in May 2013. I mainly use it for commuting 140 miles round trip in Northern Virginia stop & go traffic, and now have right at 12,000 on her. The summer heat took a toll on me but this... Read more bikes engine is bullet-proof and withstood the heat and traffic. I run full synthetic oil to lube the engine and clutch(wet-sump). This bike has sleeper like power. It will lift the tire off at a slight twist of the throttle in 1st gear and won't set it down until 3rd gear. This is my Diamond in the Rough!! Could not be more pleased in a bike. Suzuki hit a home run with this bike

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

My Great Find!!!

01 December 2013 by BRACK73RT

I bought my bike with 7488 miles on the odometer and paid $2500 in May 2013. I mainly use it for commuting 140 miles round trip in Northern Virginia stop & go traffic, and now have right at 12,000 on her. The summer heat took a toll on me but this... Read more bikes engine is bullet-proof and withstood the heat and traffic. I run full synthetic oil to lube the engine and clutch(wet-sump). This bike has sleeper like power. It will lift the tire off at a slight twist of the throttle in 1st gear and won't set it down until 3rd gear. This is my Diamond in the Rough!! Could not be more pleased in a bike. Suzuki hit a home run with this bike

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200S

01 December 2013 by BRACK73RT

I bought my bike with 7488 miles on the odometer and paid $2500 in May 2013. I mainly use it for commuting 140 miles round trip in Northern Virginia stop & go traffic, and now have right at 12,000 on her. The summer heat took a toll on me but this... Read more bikes engine is bullet-proof and withstood the heat and traffic. I run full synthetic oil to lube the engine and clutch(wet-sump). This bike has sleeper like power. It will lift the tire off at a slight twist of the throttle in 1st gear and won't set it down until 3rd gear. This is my Diamond in the Rough!! Could not be more pleased in a bike. Suzuki hit a home run with this bike

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200S

01 December 2013 by BRACK73RT

I bought my bike with 7488 miles on the odometer and paid $2500 in May 2013. I mainly use it for commuting 140 miles round trip in Northern Virginia stop & go traffic, and now have right at 12,000 on her. The summer heat took a toll on me but this... Read more bikes engine is bullet-proof and withstood the heat and traffic. I run full synthetic oil to lube the engine and clutch(wet-sump). This bike has sleeper like power. It will lift the tire off at a slight twist of the throttle in 1st gear and won't set it down until 3rd gear. This is my Diamond in the Rough!! Could not be more pleased in a bike. Suzuki hit a home run with this bike

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great Bike

08 January 2013 by mrjaybee

Recently picked up my K1 bandit 1200s after owning several 600s (incl gsf) and a long spell away from bikes before that. Was between the bandit 1200s mk2 and a fazer 1000. Have always had a secret passion for Suzuki and especially the oil cooled... Read more variety. I found my 12 in a dealer and it ticked all the boxes.. Lowish mileage, 1 owner and no tacky add ons which seems to be rife on these bikes.. After the first 150 mile ride out I havnt been disappointed and the silky smooth black lump jus surges forward with no fuss. I had reservations after reading scary stories of this bikes tendency to drink fuel, but no need to worry as fuel consumption was reasonable. Still 2 bars on the fuel guage after the trip and we werent exactly hanging about. Complaints of uncomfortable standard seat I didnt experience.. Handles well, stops well and pulls like a train.. If there are any gripes then that would have to be the nigh on useless fairing screen at any decent speed and annoying engine vibes around the motorway legal limit, of course a 6th gear would be bonus too. The standard can is staying as lost count of the amount I have bought for previous bikes and to be honest the novelty has worn thin.. If you are looking to buy one these then I wont hesitate to recommend.. Go do it.. You wont regret it..

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

LOVE IT

03 July 2012 by ratchetman

I bought my 1997 1200s bandit 8 years ago with 15,000m on the clock the bike has been dynajetted with a race exhaust and k&n air filter it makes 130bhp on the down side i only get 30mpg But its a bit of a wolf in sheeps clothing. Definatly the most... Read more fun bike i have owned full of charactor,relable,quick,comfortable and handles reasonably well on a smooth surface. best feature is the grunty engine and riding it always puts a smile on my face.worst feature doesnt like braking going into corners (But if you enter a bend a bit hot dont touch the brakes and the bike will get you round). I have bought 2 other bikes since owning the bandit but i wouldnt ever sell it because i love it to bits. its that good

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great bike until its pushed

14 September 2011 by urbanfireblade

I've had my K1 '02 1200 Bandit for 6 months now, have owned a '95 'Blade for 5 yrs, vfr750, as well as other bikes, and currently have a Kawasaki GPZ500 too as a 2nd bike. My Bandit had 11k on it in March, i've done almost 2500miles in 6 months and... Read more its been a love hate affair. Recently had issues with the coils/ignition cdi unit failing causing misfire, but also the fuel tap needing attention(fuel starvation/vacuum problem). These have highlighted the crazy dealer prices for parts, £116 for a fuel tap, £94 for an ignition coil, £56 for a neutral switch, £32 for an individual rubber inlet manifold(between carb and engine), thats almost £130 for, in essence, 4 rubber tubes! I was shocked by these prices for a motorcycle built solely from Suzuki's 'spare parts' bin and for an engine thats been around for 20-odd years. Anyway its sorted now. The handling at general speeds is good, as too are the 6 pot twin calliper brakes, but as soon as you push the bike a little on country roads you will highlight the very soft front end diving under braking, and in corners it becomes very soggy/jelly-like handling, god forbid if its bumpy too, you'll experience the very essence of a bike out of its comfort zone! The rear is soft too, causing the back to feel 'squidgy' if accelerating round a bend, imagine wobbling the 'bars in a small circular motion(like when pedaling a bike) while leaned over and that is what it will do as it protests as the suspension cannot cope. I am assuming this is very much down to the basic suspension with only a pre-load adjustment and a weight in excess of 214kg. If your a country road rider this isn't the bike for you. But this paints a negative view on a bike which has many highlights. Centre stand is ace, accurate fuel gauge, clock, 2 trip meters, decent headlight, averaging 45-50mpg, decent low down grunt, simple air/oil cooled engine, excellent brakes front and rear, well spaced gearing, able to trickle along at walking pace, easy to keep balance, a small amount of underseat storage too. Overall this bike is an excellent commuter bike, giving effortless overtaking in a leisurely way-no need to rev it to make progress. Keep the bike upright and its a pretty good bike, but corners can show up the basic suspension if done mildly enthusiastically. Hagon springs and shock are available to improve this, but they won't sort the excessive weight problem, rivals are down below 200kg nowadays, even 180kg. Its no cutting edge technology so accept that and you'll be happy.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 2 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

k1 1200

07 April 2010 by taz1200

moved over to the bandit 1200 from a triumph and have never looked back had it for 10 years now and have just got a second one to do up for her indoors to ride would not think of changing it for another bike it has such a following and the owners... Read more club is the best around many more years fun to be had on it my advice buy one now

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
Read all 37 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1996
Year discontinued 2006
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 67 ft-lb
Top speed 145 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Specification
Engine size 1152cc
Engine type 16v, in line four, 6 gears
Frame type Steel tubular cradle
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 214kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload, compression
Front brake Twin 310mm disc
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17 in

History & Versions

Model history

1996: Suzuki 1200N/1200S Bandit models launched.
2000: Engine receive 116 tweaks, chassis updated with new fairing, brakes, seat, shorter wheelbase.
2004: Suzuki GB chop £450 off list price.
2005: Price drops another £300.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Side view
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Riding
  • Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit motorcycle review - Brakes