—  PTR tuned Suzuki Bandit 1250 – When too much grunt is never enough!
—  By Trevor Hedge

Suzuki’s latest 1255cc liquid-cooled Bandit engine boasts some mighty muscles in stock form. Prodigious bottom end torque delivered in a silken fashion that virtually renders the six-speed gearbox redundant while also delivering excellent 5 litres per 100km economy.

Now take one standard Suzuki Bandit 1250, add Yoshimura camshafts and muffler, along with some airbox trimming and Power Commander fettling by master tuner Phil Tainton, and the result equals major grunt!

The real benefits from the modifications start to be felt above 4000rpm before really gathering steam from 6000rpm and maintaining that charge right through to 9000rpm. Power then tails off gently, ensuring you know just when to change gears, thus avoiding the rev-limiter.

Lord Acton famously declared, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Well consider me absolutely corrupted!

Holding back while exiting turns was beyond my corrupted demeanour and invariably involved the twistgrip firmly rolled to the stop at every apex.

Despite my best efforts the sticky Bridgestone 016R rear hoop somehow took all the punishment I could mete out. Rather than spinning up, the Bandit often sent the front tyre skywards while simultaneously stretching my arms enough to make me even more of a knuckle dragging Neanderthal than before! I certainly felt the punishment in my shoulders later that night, that’s for sure.

Of course it is not the outright horsepower the Bandit churns out which makes the experience so addictive but the awesome torque that a well-tuned big-bore four delivers so effectively that makes the encounter truly epicurean.

The standard bike is good for 103hp @ 8500rpm and 82Nm of torque at 6000rpm. A few hours at Phil Tainton’s PTR workshop and $2500 later sees the Bandit emerge with a more responsive and eager 136hp @ 8000rpm and 103Nm of torque at 7500rpm. An impressive 30 per cent improvement and the engine is much snappier in response to the throttle but remains easily tamed and never threatening.

It is money well spent but with the brilliance of the standard donk, in comparison to the somewhat crudely damped standard suspension, I would certainly put some of the budget towards some tuning in that area. It shouldn’t take much to improve the suspension out of sight.

Some internal modifications to the fork valving from a competent suspension tuner would work wonders for a modest outlay and if the budget allows similar tweaks to the rear would also realise a much more pleasant ride. It is not that the suspension is mushy or softly sprung, but more that is actually a little harsh in the same way that lower rung Ducati machines are harshly damped (you don’t choose the S model Ducati model of your choice because of any speed factor, but instead choose the higher spec’ S model to actually take the harshness out of the suspension).

Some fettling with the damping from a tuner like Pete from Promecha (VIC), or Terry Hay (NSW), or if you are getting the engine done at PTR then having the valving modified by Phil and the boys at the same time would reap great dividends. I don’t even think most riders would need to change the springs, a valving change alone would transform the way the Bandit deals with bumps. This is more from a comfort and compliance factor than from a go-fast perspective.

Perhaps even saving $1000 by retaining the standard camshafts at the expense of some power gains would be worthwhile while retaining the $2500 budget. I suggest the airbox modifications, muffler and Power Commander would be responsible for most of the gains rather than the cams.

Of course the PTR tweaks can be made with similar results across the whole gamut of Suzuki machinery fitted with the latest generation 1255cc four. The Bandit 1250S and faired GSX1250FA are also perfect candidates for cost-effective fettling.

My first day on the bike resulted in people commenting on the quality of its bellicose tone no less than three times at different stops. The note of the Yoshimura muffler never obnoxious, instead bursting with an abundance of big-bore bass amplified to a perfect volume. Only an engine of this sort of capacity can truly resonate the lower octaves so effectively.

Other onlookers commented on how small the bike looked which surprised me somewhat. But standing back and actually looking at the Bandit 1250 I realised that despite that great hulking motor dominating the profile, the change to a much more modern headlight last year has made a wealth of difference to the overall styling of the bike. A low seat height and a fairly narrow girth between the knees also lend to that impression from the cockpit. Only when accelerating or braking hard is the bulk of the 247kg wet weight make itself felt. The brakes themselves are competent but not outstanding.

The excellent fuel economy of the standard bike is not replicated on the modified version. The extra urge on tap certainly made me use the twistgrip more liberally than the stocker but despite that, the Bandit still sipped a respectable seven litres per 100km. While that’s not as impressive as the five litres per 100km I recorded on the stock bike, it is still quite impressive when taking my lack of self-control into account.

Even more impressive is that careful tuning has retained the silky smooth low-rpm delivery of the engine that only four-cylinders, or more, can deliver. Even letting the engine drop to 1000rpm results in no stumbles or surging, rolling the throttle on from there just results in exponentially building momentum as the revs rise. No hiccups through the airbox or grumbles through the driveline, just seamless drive.

The gearbox on the test bike was notably smoother than previous incarnations of the 1250 I have sampled, no doubt that is largely down to the 7000km the bike had already notched up on its digital odometer.

While smaller than most, the LCD panel flanking the large conventional tachometer offers excellent functionality. A clear gear position indicator, fuel gauge, clock, tripmeters and speedometer all cleverly integrated into a relatively small display while remaining exceptionally clear and legible.

At $12,090 plus on roads the Bandit 1250 is a very affordable choice in the big-bore market. With the PTR modifications that inject much more animal into the motor you could realistically buy this bike, as modified, new ride away for around $15,000. The modifications will of course affect your engine warranty but the chance of anything going wrong with the Bandit mill are probably smaller than just about any other motorcycle engine in production. Still, personally I would leave the cams out of the equation and spend the grand saved on some suspension fettling before I would be truly happy to take one home for good.

– Pictorial – Images out and about around Lake Eildon on the PTR tuned Bandit 1250









Specs – Suzuki Bandit 1250
Engine – 1255cc, liquid cooled, DOHC, in-line 4
Bore x Stroke – 79 x 64mm
Transmission – Six speed, chain final drive
Seat Height – 785-805mm
Wet Weight – 247kg
Fuel Capacity – 19 Litres
Average Consumption on test – 7 litres per 100km
Range – 270km
Warranty – Two years
Price – Expect to pay around $12,090 plus applicable stamp duties and registration charges for standard Bandit. Cost of modifications as tested is approximately $2500.

Verdict – ****

+ Huge grunt with pleasant manners
+ Affordable big-bore biking
+ Low seat height a boon for shorter folk

– Suspension a little crude

– Pictorial – Images out and about around Lake Eildon on the PTR tuned Bandit 1250