Last november I was scouring Craigslist for a used sports bike, with the hopes of spending my free hours during the frozen Chicago winter taking it apart, customizing it and building my first bike. I was specifically looking for a bike with plenty of power, something that was fun to ride but still highly functional and comfortable. My search ended with the Suzuki Bandit 1200s. I researched this bike relentlessly and only found people who spoke about it with great reverence; most people expressing their regret for selling after their mid-life crisis had ended.

I found a perfect example in the small community of Coal City, Illinois. The gentlemen selling lived alone as a mechanic for the local UTI. He told me he didn’t like riding alongside all his Harley friends and wanted to buy a snowmobile before winter hit. I walked into his garage to see a 500hp power boat that had an aura of Kenny Powers about it; and in front sitting under the fluorescent light was a reflective gold 90’s sports bike. It had 26,000 miles which was higher than other Bandits I’d seen on Craigslist, but the condition of the bike was excellent and these bikes are known for being bulletproof. There were zero body imperfections, the engine started and idled on command, showed no structural damage or rust at all and only had minor customizations (A huge sticker on the tank that read “Freedom isn’t free” with a majestic eagle clawing through the words).

I took it for a ride around the country surrounding his house and was completely impressed by the endless amount of power and torque. Second gear took you to whatever speed you wanted to go, the dual front discs were on-point, suspension was refined and the ride was comfortable. I was shocked at how much better this motorcycle was compared to my 2012 Triumph Scrambler, it wasn’t even in the same league. This was the one...

We talked price and I ended up handing over $2,300 bucks for the Bandit, a steal for something this mechanically sound. I think it’s incredible how much power you can buy with such little cash; these 90’s muscle bikes are everywhere just waiting to be thrashed again. The ride home only re-affirmed my decision to buy. The on ramp to I-55 felt more like my driveway and reality hit when I looked down and saw myself hitting 90, it was a gut check to take my time and to be careful until I felt this thing out for a while.

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I plan on completely tearing the bandit down over the winter, replacing anything that comes up in the process and updating the look dramatically. This will be the first mechanically intensive project I’ve ever done, and I’m excited to learn as much as I can about the process and dive in head-first. More posts and updates coming!