In Dickens’ 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-blast-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 issues are similar:
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 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.
(I planned to wait to post this until I had some more pics, which I’ll take this weekend, but I was basically procrastinating from doing another job and felt like writing it now, so pics are pending.)