Ride Quality & Brakes
No glitter or baubles here, but the back-to basics steel-tube cradle chassis does a decent job. Cheap, non-adjustable forks are on the soft-side and the standard rear shock quickly tired out. But overall the Bandit handles well enough for most and its upright stance makes it a comfortable and practical bike.
For the money, you certainly won’t be complaining until it comes to the brakes – the sliding calipers need quality aftermarket pads and braided steel hoses to get the best from them. Later models got a slightly updated chassis with better tyres, but there’s little to choose from early to late models.
Taken from the ‘teapot’ oil-cooled GSX600F, the former supersport engine lost its top end rush but gained smooth drive everywhere else. The engine is a tough unit and the bottom end survived even the biggest big-bore conversions owners could buy. Carburettors were the driving force then and aided the Bandit’s easy-going throttle response – although they are prone for going out of sync and need balancing every 4-5000 miles to ensure smooth running.
If you're servicing and notice black sparkplugs, it’s going to be the fuel tap, float levels or needles. The simplest one is the fuel tap; it comes with three lever positions, "on", "res" and "pri". It is a vacuum tap that relies on the lower inlet air pressure when the engine is running to draw fuel into carbs in the "on" or "res" positions.
The pri position is used to prime the carbs with fuel after servicing work, and should only be used then. If you leave it on pri, thinking that is off, you can flood the fuel system.
The other causes are incorrect float heights or wear in the needle seats, excessively richening up the fuel mixture. You could also check that the air filter isn’t blocked.
Reader question: Why is my Suzuki Bandit 600 making a tapping noise?
Q. When my Suzuki Bandit 600 is cold or just warming up I can hear a knocking noise like a “tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap”. When the bike warms up it stops. Is this ok or something I should worry about?
I can’t tell from the service history invoices whether the valve clearances/cam chain tensioner etc were checked. The noise disappears when the bike is fully warmed up and it only seems to happen on tickover/low revs.
The bike is fitted with a 33BHP restrictor kit. It is rev-dependant.
Morpheusking, MCN forums
A. That tapping noise could be a lot of things. Without being able to hear it we would say it’s probably just a bit of backlash in the camchain at idle. It could be worth lifting the idle speed very slightly from 1000 to 1200rpm to see if this helps.
But it could also be a tappet, a loose spark plug ticking, or even one of the 33bhp restrictor plates rattling at low revs.
To locate the source of the noise use a long screwdriver as a stethoscope, the handle makes a good ear piece. Move the tip around the engine until you hear the noise at its loudest.
Build Quality & Reliability
The Bandit’s ‘budget’ tag doesn’t necessarily mean cheap tat. The Suzuki GSF600 Bandit is a solid deal made by a reputable manufacturer and uses proven components – so what can go wrong? Not a lot, really.
The original exhaust system will have rotted through by now, and the rear shock would have lost what little damping there was in the first place. Like all bikes of this era, especially high mileage examples, pay particular attention to suspension linkage (running dry and seizing), brake disc wear and obvious signs for a rotting fuel tank. Not forgetting Bandits would have been caned at some point over the decades since it was new, and ridden through winter with minimal maintainance.
For an idea what the bike's like to live with, check out our Suzuki Bandit owners' reviews. We've got 40 owner opinions on the site, with an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. That's an impressive performance. It scores the same for build quality and reliability.
Suzuki Bandit misfire problem
Q. My 2001 Bandit 600 has an intermittent misfire which is driving me mad. Every four to six months the number one cylinder stops firing when starting from cold.
After a few seconds it’s OK, then over the next few days the misfire gets more persistent until below 3500 revs it won’t fire and the exhaust smells of petrol. Above that it’s fine.
The spark seems comparable with the number four cylinder when tested and after a week or so everything goes back to normal.
I use my bike everyday for commuting and it’s really worrying me.
Alan Stevens, Newport, Wales
A. As it’s only affecting one cylinder it can’t be a systemic fault in either the fuel system or the electrics. If you can smell fuel it’s not being starved of petrol.
However, the repeated heating up and cooling down experienced on bikes used for typically short commuting journeys, means that there can be a cumulative build up of condensation that ends up in the carb float bowls.
Drain each one individually and check the contents. As for the spark, it’s going to be from the coil forwards, perhaps when it’s wet.
I’d try liberal spraying with Holts Damp Start and maybe a new HT cap and lead.
Insurance, running costs & value
The Suzuki GSF600 Bandit’s sheer value for money. It’s always been the cheapest in class and if the Yamaha FZS600 Fazer knocked it off its perch in pure performance terms, the GSF600 Bandit still rules the roost when it comes to squeezing every last pony out of every pound spent. You can buy cheaper, you can buy better, but nothing has ever had absolute value nailed to it quite like a Suzuki GSF600 Bandit.
Suzuki Bandit buying guide
You absolutely can’t go wrong with a Suzuki Bandit, assuming the thing hasn’t been owned by a meathead!
The nice thing about Bandits (also known as Bindits because so many people did) is that they’ve been around for about a quarter of a century now and there really is a model for every pocket.
The early 600 and 1200 models (forget the 400) were really just parts-bin specials. Suzuki mixed and match a load of cheap components, and the engines were just adaptations of earlier designs – but somehow it all worked and made for a bike that was so much more than a sum of its parts.
Things like suspension and brakes were fairly basic to help keep the cost down. However, later bikes are better built with improved ingredients. Still, this makes the early ones cheap and project 600s go for as little as £400.
Starting prices for a stock-ish oil-cooled 600 from the late 1990s are around £600-£700, but if you want something sound, you should budget for £800.
If you’re looking at the upper end of the market and the water-cooled bikes, then budget £3000 for a 1200 or £3750 for a 1250. There’s no other bike that offers such value for money!
And, for once, I’d say you don’t have to go for stockers. Just beware of streetfighters, which have invariably been crashed before the conversion was made and quite possibly afterwards as well. Avoid anything described as a ‘stunt bike’ too, because you’ll be buying into a whole world of pain.
Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Being a budget-priced bike there’s likely to be more gadgets and luxury in a modern public toilet. That said, the painted frame is classy and the twin clocks are stylish enough to be classed as retro chic. Switchgear and mirrors work fine and… that’s about it.