So, you want a four cylinder sportbike, but money´s a bit tight, insurance is tricky and carrying a pillion passenger in comfort would be good as well? That´s where these three four cylinder midrange machines come into play, each of them a bargain in its own right.
A used Bandit 600 offers great value for money, the Fazer has a genuinely surprising amount of speed and braking, and the ZZR600 is a tried and tested design from the early 90s that makes a pretty good occasional tourer.
Insidebikes took a ride on all three to try and pick a winner.
Suzuki Bandit 600S 1999 used model
So first of all, why didn´t we pitch a 2001 spec Bandit against the Fazer and Kawasaki? Simple really, Suzuki couldn´t give us one to ride, despite waiting weeks on end, and eight dealers we contacted had all sold their demo machines, such is the sheer demand for the revised Bandit 600.
I can understand that, because the later generation 600 and 1200 Bandits are excellent and much improved over the old models. In particular, the overall finish, the front brakes and the handling at speed, are now pretty level with the Fazer, although the Suzy´s engine still lacks the sheer oomph of the Yamaha.
That said, the `old´ Bandit 600 makes an impressive used buy, especially at around #3,000, which is what you would expect to pay on average for an S plated 1999 model. This one had just 5,000 miles on the clock, was picked out of the showroom at Slinger Motorcycles in Preston and went like it was brand new.
In terms of performance, the old Bandit may feel a little breathless compared to the new model, or the Fazer 600, but it´s on par with the ZZR600. The Suzy feels like it has a bit more urge lowdown the rev range than the Kawasaki, which I reckon makes it a much better choice for a relative novice. You never feel stuck in the wrong gear on the Bandit, it always has enough power to overtake, unless you´re trickling along in town in 6th of course.
The air/oil cooled, 16 valve, DOHC four is perhaps one of the most tried and tested motors in motorcycling over the last 20 odd years, so reliability shouldn´t be an issue, even if you are buying used. The transmission is tough too, and though it lacks the fuel injection of modern bikes, the older carb model Bandit still feels more refined, more civilized than the Kawasaki.
Like the Fazer, the Bandit 600S has a near upright riding position, that offers better comfort over long distances than the ZZR600. The nose fairing may not look particularly stylish on the front of the `old´ Bandit, but it does a decent job of keeping windblast at bay. The saddle, for the rider, is also wide and reasonably comfy, but the pillion perch is probably the poorest of these three. It´s just a little too hard, too sloped downwards towards the rider, and narrow at the back end.
Maybe it´s just me, but I always find I keep slipping down against the gas tank on the older Bandits too, which is just one of those little niggles that really bugs you after the 187th time of pushing yourself back up the saddle.
But ridden solo, on winding country roads, the Bandit 600 is all you need in a motorbike; punchy acceleration, fluid handling and pretty well balanced suspension. OK, it can get a bit bouncy on bumpy corners, lacking finesse somehow and pitching its front end if you brake deep into a corner, but none of these bikes seriously pretends to be a sportster – for sub 80mph speeds, the Bandit does fine.
The only real weakness on the Bandit is its front brakes. They lack `feel´ somehow and sheer stopping power, although the same can be said of the brakes on the ZZR600. Fact is, compared to the truly awesome stoppers on the Fazer 600, most bikes feel a bit weedy, even though (in normal use) they´re perfectly good brakes.
In truth, the Bandit remains one of the easiest bikes around to live with, and use, on a daily basis. There aren´t many models which can tour, go at instant ban speeds, or commute at 50mpg, all in the same day. Plus a low-ish insurance group could save you 500 quid a year over choosing a sportbike, which rarely cracks 100mph all year. It isn´t cutting edge, and it doesn´t match the Fazer for sheer fun, but it is undoubtedly the best value bike of these three.
If you´re on a budget, need something novice-friendly and want a bike that will always find another buyer when you´re bored with it, then three grand couldm´t buy you much more than this.
Get Suzuki motorbike insurance for the suzuki 600s bandit.
|Engine||Air cooled, 600cc four stroke, four cylinder, 16 valves.|
|Claimed power (bhp)||79bhp|
|Chassis||Tubular steel cradle frame.|
|Suspension||41mm front forks, monoshock rear, multi adjustable.|
|Brakes||Twin front discs, four piston caliper. Rear disc, twin piston caliper.|
|Wheels||17 inch front and rear. Wheelbase; 1433mm|
|Top speed||130mph (est)|
|Fuel capacity||20 litres|
|Current price||Approx £3,000 – used `99 model|