Our featured cafe racer is so hot off the production line, Marnitz had taken these photos before the owner even had a chance to see the finished motorcycle. When Jaco from V Custom Cycles told us he was finishing a Suzuki Bandit 1200cc cafe racer, my frustrating lack of imagination left me underwhelmed. Even when he showed me the freshly painted tank which was of the very high standard we have come to expect from Rudi of Kicker cycles & paint, I still could not get an image in my head of what Bandit “ala cafe” would look like. This is probably why Jaco and V Custom Cycles get to build these beauties and I only get to write about them.
The Suzuki Bandit 1200 was available from 1996 until 2006. The 1200cc version was the largest in the Bandit model series which included various engine capacities from 250cc upwards. The heart of the Bandit 1200 is a bored out GSXR1100 engine. This oil and air-cooled inline four cylinder engine has a justified reputation of being a bulletproof beast and the 1200cc Bandits are a favourite motorcycle for wheelies and stunts.
When the motorcycle’s owner, Horst, brought the Bandit to V Custom Cycles, it had been involved in an accident. Although there was no frame damage, cosmetically the motorcycle was severely damaged. Horst’s son had the accident whilst dicing. The Bandit’s reincarnation is thus appropriately named after the great Rolling Stones song, Tumbling Dice.
If this motorcycle pulled up in your rearview mirror, you may easily be fooled into thinking you have an old school cafe racer behind you. The fork gaiters, bar end mirrors, clubman handlebars and lowered front suspension are, after all, very retro looking. Only when it howls past you will you possibly have time to catch a glimpse of the Harley V Rod headlight which indicates that this is a new generation of cafe racer.
The handlebar area is uncluttered with only a single gauge. All black components, including the frame are now powdercoated. From front to back, all cables and wiring harness clutter have miraculously disappeared.
The standard 4 into 1 headers have been retained with an imported, beautifully pitched exhaust pipe.The Bandit also had the rearset brake and gear levers as original equipment. The custom made tail piece and seat is a V Custom Cycles product which has been upholstered by Dion, the leatherman. The petrol tank is the only remaining bodywork of the original motorcycle. Even the front mudguard comes from a GSX.
I spent a long time taking a good, hard look at this cafe racer. My perception that the motorcycles of the 1990s and 2000s would never make classic cafe racers and could only be turned into street fighters, has been shaken. For those of you who also could not imagine it, seeing is believing.