Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit

Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit N/S (1996-2000) – Tomorrow’s Classic Today

The Bandit 12 is one of those bikes that’s already crept up in value – and it looks like this will continue for a while yet.

Now, we love ‘em here at CB-Net – not only are they great bikes but (ahem) they break well too…

1996 Suzuki GSF1200SThis could be because the bike was always a parts-bin special, even at birth. The 1157cc motor was a stonker – coming from the old oil/air-cooled GSX-R1100 (it was bored out for the Bandit) and forks and swingarm were not too dissimilar from those attached to the RF900R – but like many classics, this bike became something truly greater than the parts it was assembled from.

The styling can be traced back to the 250cc baby-Bandit which first appeared in 1989 and that classic naked ‘no-frills’ style was adhered to for the first incarnation up until 2000. When you first threw a leg over the Bandit 12, the first thing you realise is that this is one comfy machine – you’ll be looking at three (not two: 600 Bandit) chrome clocks and firing up the motor will be so reminiscent of big Suzooks of yore…

Riding it will blow you away – how can something made from old parts feel so fresh and new? And the wave of torque… this bike is phenomenal…

OK it was no GSX-R1100 in the outright power stakes (milder cams, restrictive exhaust, smaller bore carbs: 36mm instead of 40mm) so yeah, the Bandit’s power was neutered to 96bhp but the way it delivered its power was just silky-smooth and linear. And – if 100bhp wasn’t enough – you could tune the nads off it… Cans gave 15bhp, stage one 20-25, turbos/nitrous up to 300bhp…

The Bandit c

Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit

ame at a time of big-bore retros, such as the Yamaha XJR1200 (£7799) and the Honda CB1000 ‘Big One’ (£8295) but the Bandit came in at a phenomenal £5999! OK, so maybe the ZRX1100 Kawasaki looked better and had more power, but it was also more expensive (£7295).

If there were downsides, it was that the Bandit was latched onto by the mad modifiying brigade and lots of tat has been hung on a poor Bandit. Also, the Suzuki wasn’t the best-made thing out there and it suffered over one winter, let alone the fact that now 23 winters have passed them by… Issues were frame and tank paint being thin (some paint flaked off the frame welds) engine paint, head races with no grease and the downpipes rot meaning standard full systems are relatively rare…

Back in the day suspension was soft as new and (unless replaced with something decent) will not be any better today. Brakes were the more than capable Nissins but they always suffered from a lack of TLC – although not quite as badly as those six-pot Tokicos!

Poor running can often be attributed to poor carb set-up or bolt-on cans/systems without the required dyno time.

Prices? Well, we did say they’ve gone up in value: three or four years back you’d find projects for £500 and decent ones for £1500: these are hen’s teeth today. Instead budget for around that £1500 for a really naff one covered in tat and up to double that amount for a half decent one. Low-milers now command up to £4000 from a dealer!

For: Motor, looks, image!

Against: Poor build quality, often bodged and buggered!

Make Suzuki
Model GSF1200N/S
Years available 1996-2000
Major changes colour changes
Price new £5999 for the N model and £6399 for the half-faired S model.
Values now £1500-£4500

Verdict – It’s not tomorrow’s classic – it’s already there!