Meet my Suzuki Bland-It

Nope that’s not a typo. I meant to put the “L” in there. I did mean to call the bike bland. But let me explain…

I went on vacation a little while ago and came back and sold my 2008 WR250R the very next day. I was thrilled. Finally I could start shopping for my next motorcycle–a street bike this time. I was fairly certain I wanted a Yamaha FZ1…a bike I nearly bought back in 2002 but instead I got the Honda 919. Back then I test rode the Honda, the Yammie FZ1 and a naked Suzuki Bandit just like my new bike. I ended up with the 919–mainly because it just felt right…probably just good (Honda-esque) ergos. The Bandit was never a contender back then.

Anyway, I went and looked at several bikes this time: a cool 1983 Honda V65 Sabre, two Yamaha FZ1s, a 1997 Honda VFR and finally the 2003 Bandit. Even though the VFR is very close to the bucket list bike (the fifth-gen VFR…which I’m taking off the bucket list–more on that later) and the FZs were both really nice, I ended up with the Bandit. It was in much better shape, with low miles (8656 when I got it) and it was practically a single-owner bike that had been well taken care of. Oil looked new in the site glass and the bike is in mint condition. Best looking used bike I’ve ever bought. Period. Plus the owner was in treatment for cancer and a lung infection…which made me feel better about buying myself another bike.

Next day I took the bike on a 100 mile ride over to Prineville and back via the Crooked River Canyon. On the ride I discovered many things. First, I found the bike to be completely┬ábland to ride. It wasn’t fun in any way. It has power, but doesn’t feel fast like my ZRX1200R did. It has decent suspension but it’s not terribly confidence inspiring. It’s relatively comfy, but my shoulders, back and knees hurt before I even made it to Prineville (and I won’t even get into the high-frequency vibes at 65-70 mph that bugged the snot out of me). The reach to the bars felt really far for an upright, standard-style bike. The brakes are good, but not great, lacking feel and bite. Oh and it’s a five-speed. That bugged me a little on the test ride, but on the ride to Prineville and back it made me nuts…I just kept reaching for a 6th gear that wasn’t there.

Before I got close to Prinville I was already wondering whether I’d made a mistake and by the time I made it up the canyon on the way back, I was certain of it–I bought the wrong bike. Instead of being annoyed, I jammed…put on my headphones and had tunes the rest of the ride home. Since the bike is so quiet that worked out well.

When I got back to the house, I pulled the bike into the shop, lubed the chain, cleaned off all the bugs and put the bike back on CraigsList. Should’ve just kept the WR250R and put a bigger tank on it. The WR was fun, modern, useful and comfortable. The Blandit is none of those things. I don’t care if I ever ride it again. What a waste of time, energy and money. Hopefully I can fix this before the riding season is up. Not sure what I’ll buy as there’s not much out there I’m interested in, but am thinking about another 650cc dual sport–maybe a KLR.

I’ve done this before–with an MV Agusta Brutale. The biggest difference is the MV was beautiful, sexy, fun and charismatic. It was also brutal to ride–suspension was so stiff it just beat you up unless you were on glass-smooth tarmac…and the roads around here are not glass smooth. I kept the Brutale for more than a month before giving up on it. This time it took less than 24 hours.

And the VFR thing? This is the second time I’ve had a chance to buy one when I’ve had cash and I ALWAYS buy something else. I realized that no matter how much I like the sound of the VFR and all the reviews, I don’t want a bike with all the plastic.

Last but not least, a couple photos of the Bland-It from my one and only ride.

Not a pleasant place to spend any length of time.
Not a pleasant place to spend any length of time.
It's better the further I get from it.
It’s better the further I get from it.
Nothing snarky to say. At least it was quiet enough that I could enjoy my tunes.
Nothing snarky to say. At least it was quiet enough that I could enjoy my tunes.
That's it's best trick...looking good.
That’s it’s best trick…looking good.
I wanted to chuck it in the water instead of ride it.
I wanted to chuck it in the water instead of ride it.