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.
Reader query: vibrating footpegs on Bandit 1200
Q: I've just had a 4000 mile service on my 1998 Suzuki Bandit 1200 and I’m getting a slight vibration through the footpegs and bars between 2500-4500rpm.
The bike is standard and on an original exhaust.
Alex Lambie, e-mail
A: Early Bandit motors were vibey at low mileages and your bike is certainly that - less than 1000 miles per annum.
Make sure they balanced the carbs and check the pilot screw settings. Standard is one and three quarter turns out, but if you take them to three-three and three quarters you’ll get much more bottom end and smoother running.
I’d also check all the engine mounting bolts for tightness, especially the rubber-mounted triangular plates under the engine.
In fact, some US-imports came over with empty lugs for that plate, but you can get aftermarket ones from Banditmania on: 01522-871600.
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.
Reader query: why is my Bandit 1200 eating chains?
Q: I have a 1999 Suzuki Bandit 1200 which has gone through three different chains so far. The most recent chain, fitted in April 2010, was an SGX Gold X-ring and it looks ready to snap any time now.
The bike is my commuter, so it’s not ridden hard. I’ve run a laser pen down the centre of the chain and it lined up with the centre of the sprockets
To adjust the chain I usually put a small spanner in the rear sprocket and roll back four teeth, then tighten the adjusters, lock nuts and spindle... Roll wheel forward, remove spanner... And check again with two fingers on top of swingarm but under chain for freeplay... The gearing is standard too...
Roy, MCN forums
A: Running a laser pen down the chain is a good way of checking alignment. If you don’t have a laser you can check that by measuring the distance from swingarm to wheel on both sides.
Once you have the wheel straight it's a case of finding the tight spot on the chain. Do that by rotating the wheel slowly and pushing the bottom run of the chain up and down with your finger.
The tight spot is the point you'll adjust the tension at from now on, so make a mark on the chain sidewall, ideally at 3 o'clock around the rear sprocket to find it easily each time.
You tension the chain there because if you used a looser point the chain would be like a bowstring at the tight spot and would wear really rapidly, which I think is what has happened in your case.
The tension should be about 35mm with no one on the bike, but sit on the bike and recheck that you’ve got some freeplay at the tight spot.
All you have to do then to get the tension right is make sure you adjust each side by exactly the same amount and double check it with your ruler as you go. Less haste, more speed and you should be fine.
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.
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.
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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.
Suzuki Bandit 1200: a customiser's dream
The Bandit 1200 is a popular platform for modifying, as shown in this Suzuki XR69 replica from Rob Bean.