High-speed touring ability, a good protective fairing and excellent handling make the Suzuki Bandit 1250S a do-it-all superbike.

The superbike market is suddenly seeing a rush of action with a host of new big bikes from a variety of manufacturers. Suzuki, emboldened by the recent success of its other models, has brought in the Bandit 1250S, a versatile bike that has earned a worldwide reputation for being a no-nonsense, hardy cruiser. Sounds like a nice recipe for an Indian superbike. But exactly how does the Bandit 1250S feel on the often difficult Indian roads? Some mercy from the rain gods and an exhaustive road test help deliver the last word on this big Suzuki.

The Bandit 1250S is awell turned-out motorcycle with its three-spoke alloy wheels and several cycle parts sheeted in black. Unlike most CBU counterparts, the Bandit uses classic design that gives it a down-to-earth character and understated class as opposed to new-age pizzazz.

Wide headlight

The macho Bandit's upright, front fairing provides effective protection from the wind and houses a wide headlight with a distinctive kink leading to its visor. The Bandit's headlight stays on, a safety feature common to several big bikes. Although the light is bright, it does seem to be a bit under-powered considering that this is a bike with serious touring intent.

The fairing-mounted mirrors are of high quality, undemanding to adjust and provide wide as well as vibe-free rear vision. The instruments on the Bandit are dated and look rather out of pace on this Suzuki but are easy to read, even at high speed.

The Bandit 1250S also has excellent palm grips and exquisite alloy and reach-adjustable brake and clutch levers. Its chunky fuel tank, which can take 19 litres, is ergonomically designed to fit snugly against a rider's thighs. A prominent step divides the pillion perch from the riding saddle, whose height adjusts 20mm from its mount. A nice, dull gold finish is seen on the Bandit's chunky exhaust canister that seems to be a fraction too long and bulky. The bike's rear cowl ends in a body-coloured grab-rail and large, kinked brake light.

The 1250S comes with a centre-stand, which owners would do well to deploy using the correct technique. This is to haul the heavy bike up by standing with all your body weight concentrated on the stand-applying lever, while simultaneously pulling backwards and up with a hand under the grab bar.

The Bandit 1250S has excellent paint lustre but while the overall construction and quality is good, it doesn't quite match up to the standards of its closest rivals.

A highlight of the Bandit 1250S is its cultured, four-stroke, four valves per cylinder, 1255cc engine. This big in-line four is liquid-cooled, tuned for good low- and mid-range power and runs a relaxed state of tune which will keep it reliable throughout the years and kilometres. Yes, the peak power — 98bhp at 7500rpm — is modest for this much capacity but it is still plenty enough power for this bike to be able to rule over the Indian highways. The bike doesn't feel like it should have the Bandit tag, particularly when you experience its silken performance and the hushed gentlemanly power which surges through the drive chain to the rear wheel. Few motorcycles match the 1250S's smooth, stutter-free power band and crisp, meaty throttle response experienced anywhere over 3000rpm until redline (close to 10,000rpm). The fuel injection system is perfect, which makes for straightforward riding in urban India, with no flat spots or jerks felt despite opening the throttle at low speeds in a high gear. Clutch feel is precise, nicely damped via a hydraulic system and the Bandit delivers flawless, precise gearshifts. The Bandit 1250S can comfortably hold 140kph on a highway for sustained periods of time, with minimal gearshifting required even when brutally racing past other fast-moving traffic. There's ample performance to boot and the 1250S flies from zero to 100kph in a mere 3.79 seconds and to 160kph in 8.37sec. First gear is good for a maximum speed of 98kph, the big Suzuki hurtling from there to a top speed of 235kph.

Riding position

A wind-in-the-hair touring motorcycle capable of hitting really impressive speeds needs to have a comfortable riding position, and the Bandit does well on this front — for both the rider and the pillion. The riding posture is more upright than leaning forward and race-ready and is complemented by a perfectly padded saddle, which is also adjustable. All this makes devouring long distances a very comfortable business. What's more, the footpegs and the one-piece handlebar are nicely positioned and easy to get used to, and 1250S riders are certain to enjoy the superior feeling one gets from riding this bike down Indian streets.

This Suzuki tips the scales at 250kg and is rather tall, which makes it a bike better suited to tall, well-built people than to shorter ones. Straightline stability is terrific and the Bandit offers predictable, forgiving handling that is easy for even novices to come to grips with. The big Suzuki tackles corners with good manners, disguising its weight and providing a neutral steering feel. Ride quality is spot-on, neither too firm, nor overly plush, with adequate tyre traction always on offer. The 1250S delivered us 16.5kpl in city riding conditions, with this figure rising to a relatively reasonable 22.3kpl on the open highway.

This solid and reliable bike is easily our top choice out of all the big Suzuki models available in India. Though priced at Rs. 8,50,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi), it deserves to find many customers.