Out on the open road, the...
Out on the open road, the fairing offered great wind protection. Slap on some soft luggage and take the twisty route to the horizon.
First introduced four years ago, the old Bandit 600S had gotten a bit long in the tooth-that is until Suzuki gave the Bandit a major makeover for 2000. The result of this relatively clean slate revamp should breathe new life into this friendly 600.
Suzuki concentrated on keeping the Bandit's strengths while addressing its weaknesses. The manufacturer pulled the engine from the previous Bandit, added a few choice upgrades and wrapped it in a slick new chassis. The new tubular steel frame features stylistic as well as functional changes. The top tubes of the double cradle frame take a prettier, straighter path from the steering head to the saddle. Rake was tightened up to 25.0 degrees with trail shrinking to 3.9 inches (98mm). Although these numbers would usually speed up steering, the 10mm longer wheelbase means that the feel from the seat is essentially unchanged from previous years. The suspension also underwent a few modifications. While the fork tube diameter remained a comfortable 41mm, the internals received stiffer springs and increased damping. The shock now wears a 70 percent springier spring on the preload and rebound adjustable body. On the pavement side of the suspension, more compact Tokico calipers grip 290mm steel discs with larger single action, dual pistons. A 240mm disc handles rear braking duties. Bridgestone BT-56 radials grace the cast aluminum rims.
The styling of the new Bandit is a love it or hate it affair. Suzuki added a sleek half fairing with dual projector headlamps that divided viewers on its beauty. Regardless of where they weighed in on the looks, every rider commented on how much wind protection the windscreen offered. The seat won high praise in the testers' notes: "[The] seat angle and width, along with the positioning of the footpegs, made this the most comfortable bike to ride over long distances." The handlebar puts the rider in a comfortable upright position, though some riders felt that the reach was a bit on the long side. The rubber mounted footpegs did their best to quell the engine's vibration with reasonable success. Even the passenger pegs received vibration damping weights.
The Bandit's upgrade wasn't purely cosmetic. The engine received several improvements. Internally, larger oil jets cool the under side of new pistons. The bore and stroke remains an oversquare 62.6 x 48.7mm. Feeding the combustion chamber, a new set of 32mm carburetors sprout a throttle position sensor to better control the low-rpm ignition curve, thus improving throttle response. An air-injection system helps clean up any unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust without affecting performance. An improved charging system was also added.
The 600S remains a bit cold-blooded on the first start of the day, however. While the low end power is usable, if initially a bit fluffy, the engine betrays its GSX-R heritage by delivering the biggest hit above 8000 rpm. If you want to make time, or pass quickly, a downshift-or two-is in order. Fortunately, the transmission works effortlessly. Vibration, however, rears its ugly head throughout much of the midrange, which means that highway cruising can be a buzzy affair.
The Bandit's brakes were firm and predictable, offering experienced and novice riders alike good stopping power without drama. Although a little on the soft side, the suspension did its job effectively. When the pace heated up, the dearth of rebound damping became noticeable. The 600 rides like a much bigger bike, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Rock stable in corners, a bit of effort is required to get the bike to change directions.
Our novice sport riders all commented on how far out the clutch lever needed to be released before it entered the friction zone. Those with smaller hands will certainly feel this is an important issue. A few of our guests felt that the bottom end power was not up to par and said they had to rev the engine to get power-something our novices were unfamiliar with but quickly adapted to. Some liked the stability in corners while the others felt the Bandit required too much effort to turn. Two of the riders enjoyed the Bandit, while one felt it was "like a bad girlfriend." He added, "It looked good, sounded cool, but required a lot of effort to get it to do what I wanted."
While delivering all the important...
While delivering all the important information a rider would want, the instrument cluster is not a stylistic high point.
For 2000 Suzuki has breathed new life into the Bandit 600S. Motorcyclists who have sport touring on their agenda, or those who ride in areas where the weather forecast includes words such as cold and wet, will appreciate the improved protection the fairing delivers. For their $5799, riders get a comfortable mount with a big-bike stable ride. Novices should get up to speed quickly, but most won't outgrow the Bandit easily. The bike even has a centerstand. Remember those? Expect to see the Bandit around for many years to come.
Suggested retail price: $5799
Engine type: Oil-cooled, transverse, inline, 4-stroke four
Bore x stroke: 62.6 x 48.7mm
Rake/trail: 25.0 deg./3.9 in. (100mm)
Wheelbase: 56.7 in. (1440mm)
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal. (20.0L)
Wet weight: 510 lb. (231kg)
This article originally appeared in the December 2000 issue of Sport Rider.