Bikes we love The Journey

Feeling practical

I talk a lot about the bikes I want. It’s one of the main facets of this blog; there are just so many amazing and cool motorcycles out there, and I wish I could own them all. My daydream is that I could be like Jay Leno and possess a seemingly infinite garage full of bikes. But I’m not a celebrity; I’m just a low-tiered public relations hack with the salary to match.
So, the fact is, almost every bike I swoon over and declare to be The One For Me is, in fact, totally beyond my reach. I don’t have the money to buy it and in many cases I don’t have the space to store it. Even reasonably priced machines like the Yamaha XV950 are a solid £3,000 beyond the realm of Maybe Possible With A Bit Of Luck as far as I’m concerned.
This is a truth that I find incredibly depressing to accept, so, by and large, I do my best to just ignore it whilst trying to convince myself that the bike I have is better than I give it credit for being. And, indeed, I’ve been teaching myself over the past few months or so that by revving it harder I can get my old Honda to perform much better than I had previously thought possible.
But, still, the Honda is a little long in the tooth (it will be 10 years old in a few months) and I can’t help wishing for just a bit more horsepower to better serve me when loaded up with luggage and taking my wife places. And as such, I have told myself that I would very much like to find a way to replace my existing machine shortly before its next MOT and tax payments are due.
(For those of you playing along at home, vehicles in the United Kingdom are taxed on an annual basis. In order to be allowed the privilege of paying said tax you also have to pass and pay for a Ministry of Transport test to ensure your vehicle is road worthy.)
That means I’d be looking to buy sometime in early summer 2015. That’s a pretty tight time schedule — quite possibly unrealistic — but hope springs eternal. If I want to have any chance at all of achieving that goal, however, I have to accept that Indian Scouts and Moto Guzzi Grisos are simply out of the picture. As is any other bike that’s new. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at used listings.
Slowly, slowly, slowly over the past few weeks I’ve been working on developing a fondness for the Suzuki GSX1250FA. Possessing as much sex appeal as a good pair of wool socks, the GSX1250FA is essentially a Suzuki Bandit with full fairing. Which means that if you were to buy a brand new one you’d be getting a motorcycle that was effectively designed 20 years ago.

Partially it is because of that old technology that you’ll find a brand new GSX1250FA to be surprisingly affordable — undercutting competition by thousands of pounds/euros/dollars/whatever. And on the used market, aided by the fact that Suzukis have terrible resale value, you’ll find them to be flat out cheap.
For example, I recently spotted a 2011 GSX1250FA with just 3,000 miles on it that is equipped with hard luggage, a centre stand and heated grips for £4,500. The cheapest Triumph Sprint GT that I can find which compares in age, mileage and accoutrements costs £6,500. The cheapest equivalent Honda CBF1000SA costs £6,750. The cheapest Kawasaki Z1000SX (aka Ninja 1000) costs £7,000. And the cheapest BMW F800GT costs £9,000. In other words, the Suzuki is an incredibly good deal.
As long as you can get over how generally unsexy it is.
I think I could. Partially because of that 20-year-old Bandit engine. One of the reasons Suzuki hasn’t updated it much over the years is that it is beloved by a large segment of the motorcycling world. Delivering whopping torque for an inline four (about 75 lb.-ft.), it will pull from a dead start in fourth gear and has a reputation of being pretty much bulletproof. The fact that you see so many dirty old Bandits growling through South Wales is certainly evidence of the engine’s durability.
In the real world the engine puts out about 95 hp, which is a bit wheezy when compared with equivalent bikes in the awkward middleweight all-rounder sport-tourer category, but still a solid 20 hp more than my current machine claims, and enough to push the Suzuki to 150 mph without  much effort. 
Equipped with anti-lock brakes and a simple dashboard that offers gear and fuel indicators along with all the usual info, the bike has plenty of room for a rider and passenger whilst managing to not be huge. I made a point of checking one out in the showroom of Fowlers of Bristol recently and was intrigued by the fact the GSX1250FA is not a whole lot bigger than my Honda (a). Compare that with the Triumph Sprint GT which seems to have been made extra large just for the hell of it. 
Sitting on the bike, I was quite pleased with the ergonomics, which are just a little better suited to my 6-foot-1 frame than those on my Honda. The seat felt a tiny bit more comfortable, as well. The screen isn’t adjustable, so inevitably I’d find myself having to splash out on an MRA touring screen, but those don’t cost too much.
Gas mileage is reportedly less than with my Honda, but 41 mpg is still decent. The Suzuki is also a few pounds heavier, but I guess that’s to be expected from a bike that carries an engine that is 650cc larger.
In short, it’s a pretty damn good bike at a pretty damn good price. So my question is: Do you own one, or do you know anyone who does? 
I’d really like to hear about long-term experiences with this motorcycle. Obviously, I’ll test ride one at some point in the future, and availability of finances will be the deciding factor but I find myself genuinely considering this machine and want to know if it’s a good idea.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
An addendum to that by the way: if you’re going to do that thing of saying: “Don’t get that bike get XX instead,” please be aware that XX needs to cost the same and have the same safety features (e.g. ABS). Muchas gracias.


(a) My initial impression was that the GSX1250FA is bigger than a CBF600SA, but it is actually 1.5 inches shorter in length. It is only 0.20 inch taller and just 1.2 inches wider. In other words, it is basically the same size as my existing machine but with a far larger and more powerful engine. Basically, this supports my feeling that the CBF600SA is unnecessarily bulky.