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Oliver Twist-n-Go: 1000 km Bandit 1200S review

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Bravus, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. In D1ckens' classic novel, the orphan Oliver Twist finishes his meager serving of gruel at the orphanage and has the temerity to ask "Please sir, may I have some more?" From memory he gets his ears boxed for his trouble.

    This is not the experience of the Bandit rider: there's always more. You just have to ask, and a heaping helping of horsies is there. From 2 grand in top, or wherever, it's 'twist and go', never 'twist and oh-c0ck-I-forgot-to-knock-it-back-2-cogs-go-you-mongrel!'

    Almost stationary in traffic? 0-100 km/h in about 3.5 seconds means you're outta there the second there's a gap. Overtaking at 80? Better keep an eye on the speedo 'cos a buck fifty comes up much too easy. The buck-twenty to buck-sixty roll-on will still pin ya ears back and take a couple of seconds... and beyond there I haven't explored, but backing off knowing there's another 80 km/h in reserve is nice. 'More' continues to be the theme everywhere. Haven't wheelied it intentionally yet, but had the front wheel skipping a couple of times on take-offs that were well short of 100%, so it's very easy to see how attainable it would be from a roll-on in first or second.


    It's also completely happy to putt along at 20 or to stop and start, although a heavyish hydraulic clutch means I'm kicking it into neutral at lights more often than I'm used to (after checking the mirrors and making sure I'm buffered). The gearbox is... well, 'positive' is a good word. It engages with more of a clunk than a snick, but in a good way... although pussyfooting around with changing into first on the move can sound pretty graunchy.

    The aftermarket pipe yields a reasonable amount of extra power (I rode it with the stocker because it had had to be put back on for the roadworthy, and quickly changed back to the aftermarket). It also helps drivers be aware, and yields a very enjoyable rumble in tunnels and car parks. Stock power peaks at about 100 hp, I believe, but just adding a pipe and an air filter and jetting accordingly (as has been done on my bike) can add 10-15 more. Not in the league of current 170 hp sportsbikes, but lots none-the-less for road use. Probably even more important than power is torque, though. It's huge and it's relatively flat. Here's a dyno graph showing stock exhaust vs aftermarket slipon muffler for a 2002 Bandit, but the shapes are similar for my 99 model:


    As you can see, significant torque virtually from 2 grand: grunt-monster!

    The effect of the bike over all is kinda stealthy (apart from the pipe) - it's pretty calm looking, no big fairings or wild graphics or whatever, pretty mellow seating position and so on. Quite happy to cruise along with the traffic - but twist the wrist and all pretense disappears.

    Handles the pillion (The Boss, aka Mrs Bravus) very nicely. I don't mention it to her too much, but I can flat-foot it with both of us on, while I'm balls-only (erm, of feet) when I'm on the bike by myself. I'm 173 cm/5'8", and with the height and weight (people think of it as a big heavy bike, and in a way it is, but it only weighs the same as the current GSX650F - about 240 kg wet) this is probably not the bike for someone much shorter than me.


    After a bit of a tweak (toughening up the back and softening the front a bit) from Dirty TRiX on the weekend it's handling the bumpy corners better, tracking the bumps rather than bouncing a bit. Might stiffen the back up one notch further, since most of the time is spent with a pillion - the stiffening so far has not made it unmanagable or uncomfortable solo. Need to borrow or buy a C-spanner: it's the one thing missing from the otherwise very complete underseat toolkit. While we're in that area, plenty of underseat storage for rain gear or a spot of lunch.

    Brakes are excellent: quite soft to pull but heaps of feel and power. It's easy to see how these bikes can pop the back in the air as well as the front.

    The bike handles well - took a while to get used to the extra commitment needed to throw something taller and heavier into the corners the way I was used to flicking the little, light 400, but that was me holding the bike back rather than vice versa. Big rubber both ends with limited chicken strips, and just a heap of fun. Reminding myself not to get onto it too hard when launching out of corners is still necessary. I bought it with Battlaxes both ends, and they seem to be getting the job done, though I may look at something a bit sportier but dual compound when those wear out.

    I have a rack and sack on the bike that is big enough to hold a helmet, so The Boss rides in with me with her book bag in the sack, then swaps it for the helmet when she gets off. That means if I need to pick up the teens or do anything else during the day I have helmet, gloves and jacket handy.


    Seating position is quite straight, although I rolled the bars back a fraction to lower them because it just felt a bit *too* cruiser-like. I really noticed how far back the pegs on the GSXF were by comparison when I got back on it - these are pretty much straight down. I don't get tired or get a sore back or wrists at all, and it feels like it would work well as a medium-range tourer. Would work well for someone whose back gets sore in a sportier position but who isn't quite ready to move on to a cruiser.

    The screen I have on the bike is quite small - much smaller than that on the later 1200S, one of which I sometimes park next to at work. If I was going to do long distance touring I'd look into putting a bigger one on, but at legal and quasi-legal freeway speeds the buffeting is fairly limited even with the small screen.

    There's a reasonable amount of vibration at different revs, though not annoyingly much. I do need to shake some feeling back into the right hand sometimes after a long splitting session, though that's probably as much due to a high state of alertness as to the vibration.

    I'm a huge fan of the big clear analogue clocks:


    LCD displays are fine and all futuristic and stuff (heh, if it's 1985), but big clear analogue dials with clear numbers are so much easier to read in all light conditions and at a glance.


    I bought it mainly because I wanted something bigger and faster and more powerful that was also comfortable for daily pillioning... and because I didn't want a 'real' tourer like an ST or a GTR or one of the big Beemers. Honestly, it's hard to think of anything else out there that suits my particular set of needs and tastes as well that I could buy, even with a much bigger budget. So, pretty much the perfect bike for me, in immaculate nick, with under 50,000 km on the clock, for well under 5 grand. Hard to go past for anyone whose circumstances are similar to mine.
  2. PS I personally like the look of my 1999 much more than the look of the newer post-2001 Bandit 1200. It's a taste thing, but both the fairing and the frame work better, IMO.

    PPS Movin is selling one the same year as mine - buy it!
  3. Damn, Bravus, you're setting the bar very high for me as far as my Tiger's 1000km review goes!

    Nice review.
  4. been waiting for this one...sounds like alot of fun and alot of bike for the price
  5. I agree with you about the frames - that old frame looks beautiful and really highlights the motor beautifully in a streetfighter, the new ones are a step backwards. And this from a bloke who couldn't give less of a shit in general about the look of bikes.

    I think the old 1200 motor is a special, special unit. There's not too much out there that delivers such a surplus of power right through the rev range. The Bandit giveth and giveth some more.

    But the handling is something that worries me... Heavy steering, a feeling of the front tracking the corners as if the tyres are flat rather than smoothly countersteering in and being happy on a lean... I always feel like I'm pushing the front tyre way too hard.

    I keep nagging Kenny to let me spend a day playing with some setup options on his newer bandit to see if I can get happy with the handling - because I could definately own one if it cornered like a normal bike. I'd even think about buying Kenny's old one once I fix the Minja's plastics and sell it on.
  6. (text and photo moved to the main review)
  7. Oh, and I'd listen to Loz rather than me about the handling, if you intended to push it at all, because I'm sure he's gone much harder on the Bandits he's ridden even as loaners than I ever go on my bike. I enjoy riding and cornering, but I know my skills and how crappy the roads and the drivers are around here and probably never do more than about 3/10 or so - maybe 5 if I'm feeling frisky. The Bandit feels OK to me under those conditions, and not as though it's pushing the front, but caveat emptor.
  8. bump - now with pics ;)
  9. The front end of the Bandit isn't really an issue until and unless one is fast enough to get under 2 minutes at Phillip Island but it does start to under steer which reduces traction and makes it hard to hold a line (I'm talking about my '96 bandit not my current one BTW).

    I never had an issue with the front letting go but it gets to the point where no matter how far one hangs off, no matter how far one leans (to the point where the pegs are folding up) you just can't get the bike to hold a tighter line.

    At that point people will start passing one up the inside using a tighter line.

    But some mods like race tech gold valves for the front end and a remote reservoir and race tech valves for the rear end will take 3 or 4 seconds a lap off and let even an average rider like me get down to 1:55 around PI on a Bandit without too much trouble.

    After the suspension mods are done the next limiting factor is flex at high speed. For example tipping into turn 1 at full noise down the main straight (after a good high speed entry from T12) and just rolling off rather than braking will cause the front end to flex and the front will walk it's way towards the far edge (unless the speed is lowered).

    These are the sorts of things that stopped the Big Bandit from running at the front of Naked Class back when... but one has to be motoring for it to be an issue.

    Mostly it isn't an issue on the road (Loz excepted) :wink:
  10. about time you got a f'kn bike :grin:
    good to see you are enjoying it!
  11. I should just add that, another 2000 km or so on, I'm even more stoked with the bike, if that's possible.

    And that the gearbox is no longer clunky - it was me all along, not the bike. Match up the revs right, and give it a blip on the downshift if necessary, and it's smooth and silent but still very positive.