Why on earth are we here? What is the purpose of this whole exercise? Trying to make a racehorse do farm work?
Random thoughts course the mind as one tries to stay focused on the ocean of peak-hour traffic on a Delhi road. The left wrist is aching from declutching, the feet are precariously searching for the road. It may have been a foolish idea, to start the test-drive of a thoroughbred Suzuki Bandit 1250S in these conditions, but having made the decision, there is no turning back now.Surprisingly, though, the horse is not complaining. It is behaving magnificently as it inches along in first gear, wriggling between cars and buses and curious bikewallahs. Nearly half an hour later, the bottleneck is past. The mustang strains against the reins. Let’s go!
Six evenly spaced out gears make for a fantastic getaway. No need to throttle hard, just purr along in a series of shifts till one realises with a start that one is already doing 100 on a regulation street. Drop the throttle in a hurry, and it is down to cruising at 50. No grunting, no panting, no nonsense.
So what is this bike? A steady workhorse? Or a racehorse? One is confused.
“It is a fantastic machine, what you are riding,” Bittoo ‘Bikewala’ Sondhi, biker, racer and retailer for Suzuki bikes in Delhi, tells HT. “Its colour is unexciting (the machine we have is black; even the engine), so people don’t really realize you are riding something different, but it is great for regular roads and race-tracks alike.” He should know.
The black Bandit (the only colour alternative is white) is almost staid looking, its understated exhaust note is almost a purr. No strident stand-out notes, no ‘copyrighted’ thrumming, just get-the-work-done attitude. The only thing that really stands out is the stance. With a seat-height upward of 80 cms, a 5’6” body just manages to put both feet on the ground, and yearns for a couple of inches on the legs.
The seat can be raised a couple of inches for taller people. But for a short person, it is quite an effort to move the 250-kg body around with the engine off, or in traffic conditions. The rider should ideally be upwards of 5’9” to be really confident.
If you have a girlfriend or wife, better be cautious about opening up the throttle! Ready to wheelie at the drop of a hat, thanks to the grunt of the superb 108 Nm of torque, which peaks at 3,700 RPM.
Power: 98 PS @ 7500 RPM, about the same as a mid-sized car. Thank god for ABS, eh?
So one steps on the gas. Let’s take this horse through its paces.
The digital speedometer ticks away. 100, 120, 130, 150, 170... Gulp. Traffic. Slack off. A squall has hit the Capital, and the highway to Jaipur, one of the better roads around, is stormy with headwinds. But cruising at 150, the rider doesn’t feel tired. The arms are comfortable, the short fairing is sufficient to keep the wind off the rider’s face. A taller rider may need to crouch, but one can go on for hours.
And lastly, the sacrilegious question: “Kitna deti hai?”
On highways, the company says, 20-25 kph. Our guess is close to 20 rather than 25. But within traffic conditions, it appears quite thrifty for a machine of this size. With a 19-litre tank, that is a conservative 400 kms under the belt on a full tank. Now, if we only had the roads to do justice to that kind of range.
So is this the bike for you? Let’s run a checklist:
Attitude? Plenty, but not in-your-face. Power? Yes! Comfort? Value for money? Unbeatable. Addictive? YES!!!
If you are 5’10”, and have R10 lakh in your pocket, go get it! There is hardly any alternative in this range. There was the Yamaha MT-01, but that stands discontinued.
Remember, though — speed thrills, but kills. Like the guy says in the movie, with great power comes great responsibility.