Bandit Suzuki GSF1200N Track Bike

Thinking about what I want to do with my bikes my thoughts have drifted round to the first brand new bike I bought (A GSF1200N Bandit) and how much I liked it. It was the first bike I took on track and I thought it might be fun to have one in the garage for road riding and occasional track day. It would have to be the right track day such as the Bike Magazine Re-Claim Our Tracks track day or the Practical Sports Bike Pre 1997 day but it could be fun. Any way here are some thoughts on some mods that might be needed.

Front Wheel
I am not sure if the standard wheels on the Bandit are particularly heavy, but there may be scope to look at other wheels and see if a weight reduction could be made using a different models wheels but keeping the original tyre size.

Front Brake Disc
Unless there is a major change to the front forks a different diameter front brake disc is not really possible due to the limiting factor of the brake calliper mounting points which are set by the fork legs, however there may be chance for lighter after market rotors and any reduction on the rotating mass can only help.

Front Brake Calliper
On the early bike as standard the brake callipers are not bad, similar 4 pots to the ones I put on my ZX6, so may not need changing just use better pads, later ones use the six pots that were also fitted on the ZX6 and when a little older are awful. I am a great fan of Bendix Supersport pads now after using them on my ZX6, so they would probably be used.

Front Brake Lines
The standard rubber brake lines need to be changed for braided lines. I like to use them in race layout with two full length lines and a double banjo bolt at the top.

Front Brake Master Cylinder
I have had very good experiences using a Brembo master cylinder from an Aprilia RSV with similar four pot callipers that are fitted to the Bandit and as I have one in the garage I can not see any reason why i would not put it on.

Head Lamp
The headlamp on the Bandit is chromed metal and may have glass in it, there may be some weight to be gained from putting a plastic bowled one with a plastic lens. A RD350LC light is the same size, I believe, and I think it has a plastic bowl. There maybe other after market options out there but sadly it has to look right too.

Mostly for the look of the thing (OK totally for the look of the thing) I don’t really like the chromed clock covers, I have seen people have painted them satin black and they look good so I would probably try this.

The standard handlebars are chromed steel, not sure if aluminium ones are lighter, but I have a set kicking round the garage so I would stick them on. Maybe a slight weight loss and they look cooler!!!

No real reason to change these but I fancy trying some of the Renthal grips

From my experience of the ZX6 I think that a quick action throttle may well be helpful, hopefully there will be an easy mod using a different models twistgrip. On the ZX6 a R6 throttle tube works.

Brake/Clutch Levers
I will probably replace these with Chinese Ally levers, I have found them to be generally well made and quite usable. I may even go for the levers that fold up as they survive an accident much better than the fixed type which could mean the difference between getting out on track or not after a get off.

Front Suspension
The front suspension on the Bandit 1200 is one of its weak points. The spring is too weak (for my weight!) and the damping is OK at best. One way forward would be to get an uprated spring and fit a better damping valve, but the standard forks only adjust for pre-load so this may not be the best way forward. The next option would be to fit the front end off a bike with similar right way up forks of the same diameter (Such as a ZRX1200 or a RF900RS2) these would have more adjustability but would still need the heavier spring and possibly the new valve. The last option is a set of upside down forks, these are harder to do as it involves messing around with fork clamps but arguable will give the best option but may well still need the springs changing.

Foot Pegs
The foot pegs on a Bandit 1200 are generally low and would need to be raised for the track. There are two ways of doing this, rear sets are the best answer as they are generally multi adjustable but cost more, the cheaper option is jack up plates, which worked well on the ZX6 and i believe there are products out there, worst come to the worst I’ll try making  some.

Rear Brake Lever and Gear Change Lever
On the ZX6 I put an aftermarket brake and gear change levers with a spring loaded tips, this helps in two ways. First I have my levers mounted fairly low, due to my big feet, and the spring loaded end will bend if it catches the road (never did on the ZX6 to be honest) and secondly if the bike goes down the end will bend not snap or wear away so you have a better chance of getting out on track after an off. Weirdly the prices of these levers varies wildly so I tend to keep an eye out and buy the cheap ones (They all appear the same).

Rear Suspension
The rear suspension on the bandit is fairly low budget and would benefit from having a better shock in its place. There are two basic ways forward, one is to buy a specific aftermarket shock for the Bandit, this will probably be the best option but could be quite expensive depending on the spec of the shock. The second method is to use a shock that fits in, such as the Haybusa shock, that is of a better quality. However I would think that this second-hand shock would still need a spring change and possible a re-valve

A new Li-Ion battery would be much lighter and still do its duty, the price of these batteries are coming down and is an easy weight loss for not much work.

Seat Unit
The standard seat unit on a 1200N has some grab handles, whereas the 600N does not, I believe they are the same otherwise and I prefer the look without the handles so that would be an easy change to make. It would save a little weight too. A race seat is an option, but to be honest I like my bikes to remain as road orientated as possible. I will probably remove the rear footpegs and get a new specific exhaust mount. It is partially the look and the thing and partially a weight loss.

Rear Lights
There is a modification to put indicators either side of the rear light, this is an easy one to do and makes it easier to cut back the rear mudguard or fit a under tray for a clean rear end.

Rear Wheel
It is possible that a rear wheel off a newer model may fit that might be a little lighter than the stock one.

Rear Brake Line and Rear Brake
The rear brake line can be converted to a braided one, this is mostly for the look of it as the standard rubber hose would be fine. There may be an option to fit a smaller rear calliper or to lighten the mounts to save some weight. this may be an expensive option but there is possibilities that people have done similar to other Suzuki’s as lots of them use similar layouts so the hard work has been done and the parts may be available.

Rear Brake Disc
There may be a lighter rear brake disc available either off another bike or after market, I will only bother if I can do it cheaply.

I will have to think long and hard about tyre choice, there would be little point putting the top flight track day tyres on this bike. But how far back do I go? Front sporty road tyre, back sports tourer? One to think about.

Chain and Sprockets
I will have to look at the chain and sprockets, as standard the bike is set up to be very long geared, however the front sprocket is already a 15 tooth one so it is not really a good idea to drop this as it will be too small. This means enlarging the rear sprocket but this can mean having to fit a longer chain.

The engine doesn’t need any work particularly, however there can be problems with slipping clutches. One mod I have heard of is to fit cams from another Suzuki (1989 GSXR750 I believe)this can give more top end but loses a little mid-range (not a huge problem though) I would imagine that the carbs would need setting up to match them though.

Air Box & Carburettors
There is an easy mod to the airbox removing a snorkel that restricts the airflow this does not need any jetting changes. There is also a mod to cut an extra hole in the airbox, though this does need a slight change to the carbs settings. I understand that this extra hole is only needed if you have done other things to your bike. A K&N or similar filter can also help. Some people have gone to individual filters but I like the idea of looking as standard as possible. I am not 100% keen about the shiny covers on the airbox, I might look into painting them or covering them.

When I had my original Bandit I read that a simple end can change would give as much as 25 Bhp increase. I think this is a little keen but I believe that 15Bhp may be possible. A full system from a GSXR1100 may well fit and give a little more but I would be happy with just this extra 15Bhp on top of the other gains possible mentioned above.

General Weight Loss
Nothing specific but I will try and lose as much general weight that is possible without spending stupid money, so no titanium nuts and bolts but maybe some homemade aluminium brackets.

So watch this space……… it’ll probably never happen

About The Author


Ambitious Amateur Mechanic, with a slight (OK not slight) Suzuki bias