After only a decade, it made out like a bandit.
Suzuki continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary by releasing weekly archival videos. From the totally tubular DR-650SE ad to the epic RG 125 Gamma campaign, the grainy, nostalgic footage further endears us to the brand’s accomplishments over the years. This week, the house of Hamamatsu blessed us with a video of one of its baddest (bad meaning good) bikes in recent history—the GSF1200 Bandit.
Introduced in 1989, Suzuki’s Bandit platform is known for its simplicity and approachability. The company launched the GSF250 and GSF400 at the end of the ‘80s before expanding the Bandit family to include the GSF600 in 1995 and the GSF1200 in 1996. Though borrowing its oil/air-cooled, 1,157cc engine from the outgoing GSX-R1100, the Bandit 1200 was much more civil due to engine re-tuning and a four-into-one exhaust system.
Unlike the baby Bandits that utilized a trellis frame and the engine as a stress member, the big Bandit employed a tubular steel frame that cradled its massive inline-four and five-speed gearbox. While the model achieved 100 horsepower, the 475-pound dry weight kept it from rocketing off into the stratosphere. Suzuki also equipped the 1200 Bandit with more relaxed ergonomics and amble seating accommodations compared to its supersport offerings.
Along with the standard GSF1200, Suzuki released an S version with a half-fairing for a more travel-friendly ride. Between the 1996 and 2000 model years, the Bandit underwent no changes with the exception of an ABS model in 1997. However, in 2001, Suzuki spruced up the B12 with improved frame geometry, six-pot Tokico front calipers, new carburetors, fully-electronic instrumentation, and a dual-headlight setup for the S variant.
Aside from the addition of a catalytic converter in 2004 and minor changes in 2006, the Bandit 1200 stayed the same until the GSF1250 replaced it in 2007. The newer Bandit addressed all the “shortcomings” of the GSF1200 with fuel-injection, liquid-cooling, and a six-speed transmission. While the 1250 Bandit improved the platform with a Euro 3-compliant design, the complexity of the systems no longer made it an everyman’s bike.
As emissions regulations only increased over the following years, the GSF1200 Bandit proved to be the last of a dying breed. Over its 10-year production run and beyond, the Bandit certainly inspired a generation of garage mechanics and custom builders to keep wrenching. We can’t wait to see what bikes Suzuki highlights in the upcoming weeks as it continues to commemorate its centennial.