I hadn't heard of the Bandit before. Perhaps that's because I really didn't get into motorcycling until I got the Bandit. I hadn't done any reading about modern bikes, I didn't own appropriate gear, and there was a stretch where I was no longer wearing a helmet. All that's changed. I've read countless articles and several books on technique and safety. My favorite book is Proficient Motorcycling, by David Hough. I'm now a motorcyclist, as opposed to merely a motorcycle owner.
I always wear my helmet and gloves, I now have an actual motorcycling jacket, and I received new boots from Jolene last Christmas. I'm using some Suzuki branded textile pants that I got on clearance from the dealer.
I bought the Bandit before I knew about Maximum-Suzuki. They have proven to be an invaluable resource, nonetheless. When it was time to retire the 1992 Nighthawk that I'd owned for about 5 years, and ridden about 3000 miles mostly during two summers, I made my choice of a replacement by reading online reviews. I discovered that the Bandit has been around for half a dozen years, and that it was built around the well proven GSX inline-four air cooled engines.
It had received numerous updates for model year 2001, including induction, suspension, aerodynamic and aesthetic changes. At Maximum-Suzuki I was able to confirm that mine wasn't included in the range of 2001-02 Bandits that had defective pistons installed, so I knew I wouldn't have to deal with the recall.
It's been a fantastic bike. I have almost 10,000 miles on it over three seasons. It's never enough, but I can't ride to work and I now have a young son. Jolene likes it, which is important because we do day and weekend trips whenever we have the chance. I slap on a set of soft bags along with the tank bag, and we're all set. I have to admit that we're fair weather riders, though. We haven't had the ambition to invest in good all-weather riding gear. Maybe we'll eventually try some long distance trips, but for now we'll watch the weather closely.
I go for solo rips frequently in the evenings. Since I can't ride to work, I usually don't get out until after supper. By then any sign of rush hour has passed, and the quick jaunt to the edge of town is easy. What pass for curves in Central Minnesota often take a while to reach, but it's always worth it. While I've made leaps and bounds in my riding skill since buying the Bandit, I'm still mellow by any track guru's definition. I barely wipe the chicken strips from the rear tire, and I have yet to drag any hard parts.
I've added a Hayabusa rear shock, $38 shipped from ebay, which really improved control over the ride and handling. It's a no-brainer mod if you have a stock Bandit. I went with Dale Walker's Holeshot Performance slip-on and stage 1 jet kit. That was well worth the money, too. The bike now sounds like it should, and cold starts are better. Power's up a bit, too. I went with a Suzuki touring windscreen, but I'm not sure it did much
The Hella™ mod was a result of my frustration with the Bandit's stock lighting. Upon first owning the Bandit, I was thrilled at the cool-looking projector-beam lights. Turns out that they're not that good, and worse they accumulate some sort of black, sooty substance. When on a tour of Lake Superior this summer, I found myself in moose country after dark. The lighting was so bad I had to tailgate logging trucks for three hours. It was terrifying.
Well, now I'm really set up for touring. I've added Suzuki's smoked touring windscreen, which raised the windblast into my helmet a bit, and I've upgraded to Racetech fork internals. Also, at the International Motorcycle Show this February I found a deal on the Givi bags I wanted and jumped on it. They're fantastic bags, but the electrical components leave something to be desired. The bulb sockets and other parts look like bottom-of-the-barrel made in Taiwan junk. We're still trying to get the optional brakelight to work. This should be a great season.