Sport Touring Makeover

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers, Holeshot Performance, Race Tech

With my plans of purchasing a brand new, five-figure Sport Touring bike officially under "reevaluation" (OK, terminated) by the household CFO, I quickly realized that "new" really is a relative term. Why not hit the aftermarket, I thought, and do a cost conscious sprucing-up of my perfectly good, but slightly tired, 2002 Suzuki 1200 Bandit? I took the bike to my buddy Gary Yates, for a second opinion. Since Gary is a professional automotive and motorcycle technician, he's the perfect source for an appraisal.

We both agreed that suspension, brakes, and a little boost in power should be tops on the list. With those targets in mind, I hit the Internet forums to begin researching what has worked best for other Bandit owners. Thanks to their willingness to share information and experiences, I discovered some excellent upgrades.

Race Tech Suspension

According to Race Tech, the Bandit's forks were under-sprung and over-damped, meaning the springs were too soft and the oil flow too restricted. This resulted in the excess brake-dive and harshness that I was feeling. Race Tech addressed these shortcomings by fitting high performance springs with a custom spring-rate appropriate for my weight and riding style. The stock, restrictive, oil damping units were then replaced with custom-fitted Race Tech Gold Valves. High wear items such as bushings and seals were also replaced. The end result has been nothing short of amazing. I've literally had to readjust my riding style as the performance of these forks has dramatically increased my cornering speeds. Feedback from the road is phenomenal and overall comfort has increased markedly, especially riding two-up. While the upgrade kits themselves are available, Race Tech highly recommends that customers send in the forks and allow their trained specialists to complete the work. Race Tech offers suspension products and services for most Cruiser, Touring, and Sport Touring applications. The total charge (including labor) for the Cartridge Fork Upgrades on the Bandit was $ 667. For more specifics, visit

Dale Walker Holeshot Performance

With the refurbished forks now installed, it was time to replace the worn-out rear shock and up the engine ante. The sharp-looking, seven-pound lighter Holeshot muffler zipped on in no time, and cost $ 389. Next, Gary dove into the carburetors and replaced the jets as the excellent instructions advised - and was a $ 128 well spent. With the process nearing completion, Gary reflected that he'd installed hundreds of pipe and jet kits, but had never done one that was so easy and hassle-free. He summed it up by saying, "Dale Walker really knows what he's doing." The pipe adds a claimed 10-13 horsepower and sounds really cool, while keeping the decibels at a neighborhood-friendly level. Throttle response has improved distinctly and the Bandit's once notorious cold starting is now a thing of the past.

The Gen 2 Rear Shock was also a perfect fit and fell into place easily. This unit is CNC machined of billet materials right here in the USA. Unlike the rebound-only stock shock, the Cogent Dynamics-built piece is preload- and rebound-adjustable. Dale has personally spent hours testing this shock and knows it inside and out. He provides all purchasers with detailed instructions for making adjustments and setting the sag. Plus, he's never more than a phone call away for advice on set-up or installation. The new shock gives the rear end a far more planted feel, especially in the twists, without sacrificing rider or passenger comfort. Compared to the other shock replacement options available, the Gen 2 packs a real bang for the buck at only $ 595. For more details, visit and

Galfer Braided Brake and Clutch Lines

With a bump in power and an improved suspension far more prone to let it out of the bag, a boost in braking becomes even more important. To cap our little project, we procured a set of Galfer braided steel lines for both the front ($ 95) and rear brakes ($ 57), as well as the clutch ($ 57). Over the years, the stock rubber lines had weakened and begun swelling under the force of the fluid. The easy to install Galfer lines immediately improved the feel at the lever and eliminated the vague, "spongy" feel that had begun to develop. No matter the age of the bike, if it has rubber brake and clutch lines, a set of these braided beauties is a highly recommended addition in terms of both performance and safety. Additional information can be found at and

All of the upgrades to the Bandit have been incredible. The chosen companies provided excellent products and customer service. Sure, it's not a brand new bike, but it's now leaps and bounds better than it was. With a little research and some elbow grease we managed to convert an old standby into a new best friend, all for less than $ 2,000.