When Suzuki set about updating its middleweight Bandit over a decade ago, they had little choice but to come up with a new engine. With ever stringent emission laws worldwide, the trusty old oil cooled motor became obsolete and was pensioned off. In its place was a brand new water cooled unit and, other than sharing the same bore and stroke dimensions, the two engines had nothing in common.
Likewise, the chassis was all new in design, even if it didn’t make much of a step forward in materials or technology. The 2007 Bandit 650 did have fresher looks though, but appealed mostly to the same old riders, those who need a multi purpose bike that didn’t cost a fortune, which was always a Bandit strong point. The model was produced for five years, and it sold in strong numbers. Suzuki covered both bases and offered a faired and unfaired model. For many, the naked bike looks better, but for everyday use you’d be daft to not choose the more practical faired version.
What’s it like to ride?
At 204kg it’s no lightweight, although the Bandit 650 hides its bulk well as it doesn’t feel like a chunky bike when you hop on board.
Sensible ergonomics greet you, making it easy to see why people rate this package. Around town it’s a doddle to manoeuvre and, with the upright riding position, visibility of what’s ahead is easy to gauge. The engine feels smooth, the fuel injection is spot on, there’s no glitches within the 12,000 rev range, although if you do thrash the Bandit to the redline, you’ll quickly realise changing up at 11,000 revs is more beneficial.
Mid range power is good and brakes and suspension are decent enough. The Bandit was always conceived as a motorcycle that was great value for money, so there’s nothing outstanding jumping out from the spec sheet, likewise there’s nothing too shocking to report either.
With a 19 litre tank and a top whack of 130mph it makes for an efficient long distance package. Overall, there were few bikes from the period that could do so much for so little.
What to look for?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, sales manager at Peterborough based Suzuki dealership Wheels Motorcycles. He said: “The Bandit 650 is still a credible package, but with the years against them there’s a few things to check. Corrosion is the biggest issue; they take lots of TLC to keep them looking bright.
“Both naked and faired models sell well, what both models do is to attract the fitment of aftermarket parts, standard cans are a rare sight these days. The Bandit 650 is often a bit of a victim of its own success. It appeals to newbie riders, but most don’t hang on to them for too long before moving on to either newer or bigger machines. In 2009 there was a bit of a makeover, the engines were finished in black instead of silver and ABS was an option. These are the pick of the Bandit 650 crop.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson at Grumpy 1260, they service bikes and break up unloved machines for parts. He added: “We get lots of Bandit 650s through our workshop, many owners have had bigger bikes, even larger Bandits, but find the 650 to be all they need. “The engines are great, the fuel injection gives no aggro and other than ham fisted owners messing things up you’d be an unlucky person to end up with mechanical woes. Just keep it serviced and it’ll go forever.
“There’s plenty of used parts out there, and many chassis parts interchange with other Suzuki models. Chassis parts need TLC, shocks are a weak spot and the paint on the frame isn’t the thickest coat I’ve ever seen.”
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