"Ride Interrupted", or "There She Blows Again"

bandit-march-001The mercury cleared 50 degrees in my Minnesota city just before the sun broke through the hazy sky. It was early afternoon and a breeze blew lightly from the west. The road called, so I put away my lawn rake and pulled on my riding gear.

I tossed my camera backpack in my Givi top case with the intention of taking some photos. It fit nicely and wouldn’t slide around too much. In my tank bag were some maps and a first aid kit along with a tire gauge and other resident gizmos. I had been refreshing my memory on the use of my tire plug kit that morning, and had grabbed it off the counter on my way out the door. I tossed it in the tank bag and slid the GPS unit into its cradle. I only planned on riding a few hours in an area I know fairly well, but sometimes it’s nice to know where you ended up for later reference.

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Bandit Hella Mod

Here's how I took my stock Bandit headlights out and installed a set of Hella™ 90mm low and high beam modules. They produce superior light to the stock modules, and they should not be succeptible to the black dust that rendered the stock lighting almost useless. The low beam is wide and even, and the high really lights up the world. I was able to retain the use of the stock adjuster plates, so fine tuning of the beam will be as described in the owners manual.

The Hella link is here (myhellalights.com) and the store where I bought them is here (rallylights.com, high-beam, low-beam). My total cost was about $160 including the lights and plugs, wire, rtv silicone, rivets, bolts/washers/nuts, nylon bushings and electrical tape. Total time was around six hours, but I admit I wasn't clocking myself.

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Bandits West 2006

Author's note: The following is more a personal diary, a memoir, than it is a piece for public enjoyment. As such, it may seem long-winded and trivial. It was important for me to record my thoughts while they were fresh in my mind, and here they are.

Day 1 was June 21, 2006. We covered over 4400 miles in eight of ten days, riding on 2002 and 2004 Suzuki GSF Bandit 1200S motorcycles.

For some reason, probably ego, I allowed my riding partner Shane to talk me into doing 1000 miles the first day. The idea was to earn our Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000 certification and to get the rather mundane ride across western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota behind us quickly. I was anxious about the plan. We'd ridden several 600 mile days without much trouble, and at least one of them was in high heat and included extensive delays over freshly laid asphalt. It wasn't pleasant, so I had concerns about how tough this day would be. I planned meticulously, even purchasing a Camelbak for my tankbag. I'd take no chances with dehydration. I rebuilt my Bandit's seat with memory foam (actually laminate flooring underlayment, but it seemed to work) and strapped on a cut-down beaded seat cover. I figured for 8 bucks I could throw it away if it didn't work.


I have few photos from that day - there was little time to spare. We left at 4 a.m., rode as far as we could before buttburn set in, stopped for gas, and took off again. I had packed two pop-top tubs of Chef Boyardee for quick nourishment and ate one cold at 9 a.m. My new GPS unit, a Garmin Quest 2, kept me informed in brilliant color of our progress. I started noting the 100-mile increments... under 900... under 800... and so on. One step at a time, and keep shifting the weight on my rear.

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Suzuki Bandit 1200S

2002 Suzuki BanditI 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.

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