Corner carving is obviously not at the top of either bike's list of capabilities, but they handle the roles surprisingly well when called upon. Ironically, despite being heavier than the BMW by 12 pounds, the Bandit feels much nimbler in the tighter sections, surely helped by its more upright seating position and handlebar. Steering is fairly precise, ground clearance is very good (even with the centerstand that comes standard), and the suspension keeps everything well in hand at anything up to 7/10 pace. The Suzuki's responsive and torquey powerplant means you don't have to keep the rpm up to get good acceleration off the corners, and you can often just leave the Bandit in one gear while you negotiate a long section of curves. Because the 1255cc mill is tuned for low/midrange power, spinning the engine anywhere near its conservative 9500-rpm redline doesn't get you a whole lot in return. So don't try to ride the Suzuki like a GSX-R and expect tire-churning, wheel-standing antics off the corners.
In fact, trying to ride the Bandit like a GSX-R will have the Suzuki quickly letting you know that it is out of its element. The suspension begins to rapidly come undone at a certain point, with front-end feedback going numb, chassis pitch getting excessive and the D218 tires exhibiting a tendency to fall-in at maximum lean angles. But approaching that boundary-which is well outside of the Bandit's intended scope anyway-is pretty apparent, so you can rein in the enthusiasm accordingly.
The BMW has a slightly higher performance potential in this area, but it takes commitment from the rider. Despite its oceanliner wheelbase as compared with the Suzuki's, the K-bike can carve tight lines right with the Bandit. Tightened up to the "Sport" damping setting, the Duolever front end does a good job of absorbing midcorner bumps at speed and keeping steering accurate, while the Paralever single-sided rear end keeps chassis pitch associated with such a long motorcycle to a minimum. The 1157cc engine pumps out serious power, especially above 7500, where the K-bike really begins to gain some major velocity. Where the Bandit is letting you know the limit is getting close, the BMW can still venture a bit further.
The caveat to the BMW's performance is that in slower corners, you must work around the abrupt throttle response by using a higher gear in many situations, and thus twist the throttle more aggressively. Although the K12R Sport's Duolever front end has numerous advantages over a conventional telescopic fork, it still lacks the feedback necessary to really instill confidence entering corners. You know the Pilot Power tires have the capability, but there's little communication about what's happening at the contact patch on both ends. It's also difficult to get over the BMW's feeling of heft and size when flinging it through the corners-you're always wondering about the consequences, should things get out of hand. And while the latest-generation BMW brakes are much improved over previous versions, they still lack the feel and modulation that a properly set-up conventional brake provides.
While some may bemoan the fact that we compared a $16,765 motorcycle with a $8799 one, the additional advantages provided by the BMW K1200R Sport and its options offered a good counterpoint to the Suzuki Bandit 1250S's somewhat bare-bones-yet surprisingly capable-performance. (Actually, our BMW also came with the $275 "Sports wheels" package, which permits fitting a 190-size rear tire and includes $235 heated hand grips and the $50 white turn indicators.)
In fact, the BMW offers up a generous dose of power and handling that surpasses the Bandit, especially if your riding environment includes a lot of high-speed curvature. The K1200R Sport boasts an impressive array of technological features that actually do contribute to improved performance, and if you can afford the high sticker price, they're great features to have.
But the new Suzuki Bandit 1250S is significantly improved over the old version in virtually all aspects, especially the daily real-world all-around capabilities that so many American riders desire in a bike of this ilk. The Bandit's superb engine and refined manners make it an easy choice over the competition in this arena. And all that performance at a sticker price lower than those of the Japanese rivals-never mind far below the European ones-makes the Suzuki tough to beat.