Last updated: 8/15/10
We were sitting around the house on a cold and rainy November morning in 2007 surfing the net when I found an add for a 1992 Suzuki 400 Bandit. The add said it didn't run, but from the pictures it looked to be all there. So I called the seller and we drove the 30 minutes to the coast to take a look, of course I pulled the trailer just in case. The bike was complete, except for the frame side-covers, but had obviously been sitting outside for a while.
The seller assured me the bike had run recently, but after sitting for a few months refused to turn-over, even with a new battery. I asked a few questions, and I convinced myself that for $340 I couldn't go wrong. We loaded the bike up on the trailer and stopped for a nice lunch at the beach on the way home to celebrate our new find. I diagnosed the initial problem as a bad starter solenoid and was able to get the bike running that night, but it was not ready to be ridden.
What followed was a year of on-again off-again work, and a lot of new parts, that eventually culminated in the bike you see here. And let me assure you there is a lot you don't know about a bike you can't ride, let alone hear run, before you buy it.
Picture taken at the St. John's River in east Orange County, Florida on 11/26/08. The first time I had the bike out for a decent ride, albeit with an extremely leaky left front fork seal, (which has since been fixed).
I'm not much for before pictures, I guess I'm not real interested in remembering what it looked like, but I did take some progress photos to document the work. Above are some shots of when I got the frame and related parts back from the powder-coater. it was nice to finally have a roller again.
I rebuilt the forks with new seals and bushings and added a fresh batch of Bel-Ray 10w. I also refinished the fork legs and coated them with clear acrylic. The swingarm and suspension bearings were gone through, and a new set of Metzlers were mounted front and rear.
I cleaned the head up, replaced a few valves and rockers, then reseated the valves, and polished up the cams and rockers. Then I put on a fresh coat of engine enamel and polished the fins. I also put a fresh hone on the jugs and put it all back together with a new set of rings.
Finally the motor is in, but little did I know I'd have it back out and in again three more times before I had everything sorted out. Like I said earlier, there's a lot you can't know about a bike you can't ride before you buy it. But now the motor has 140 psi on each cylinder and the tranny shifts through all six gears without drama like it should. All new seals and gaskets were used in re-assembling the motor.
The brakes were gone through as well with new rubber in the calipers and master cylinders and new pads. The rear rotor also had to be replaced as the original had obviously done its share of stopping without the benefit of any pad material. Braided stainless/steel lines were used in the rebuild as much for their clean appearance as their improvement in braking power.
I had a few issues getting the carbs sorted. It seems the guy that was in there before me saw little need in keeping the jet sizes uniform across the bank of carbs. A good sync with the Morgan CarbTune Pro was then in order, (a tool I highly recommend). The bike now carburates wonderfully with a steady idle, sharp throttle response, and a quick return to idle once the butterflies are closed.
I think the 400 Bandit is one of the best looking bikes Suzuki ever produced. The trellis frame gives it a 'Ducati-esque' kind of look, and the bike has the mean minimalist look of a modern street-fighter. The motor makes good power if you're not afraid to rev it, and is very tractable down low. Dry weight is 340 lbs and the seat height is less than 30", so it works great for my wife. Look for us in and around the north Georgia mountains next spring. And we have a Blue Ridge Parkway trip planned for 2010 when they're scheduled to reopen the washed out section between Ashville and Little Switzerland.