It's hard to believe the GSX-R600 has been around for 16 years, I remember when, as a Year Nine student, the late Ken Wootton stuck himself on the cover of AMCN proclaiming the all-new 1997 Suzuki GSX-R600 is the game changing supersport machine of its era. It certainly was an epic machine, but you could be forgiven for thinking Suzuki's junior superbike has rested on its laurels of late, letting bikes like Triumph's 675 Daytona and Yamaha's YZF-R6 get the best of it on road and track.
Last year Suzuki breathed new life into the 600 in what was the first update the machine had enjoyed since the former model's 2008 launch. The GSX-R went on a severe diet and gained a few precious power ponies in the upgrade, and after a day fanging the guts out of it at Hidden Valley in Darwin, I'll admit to being pleasantly surprised at the new model's capability on the racetrack. But I hadn't ridden it on the road.
For what seems like forever now, I've claimed Suzuki's GSX-R750 as pretty much my favourite road-going sportsbike. If it were only traffic and back-road duties I was pulling, give me a 750 any day and I'm happy, because the 750 is just a beefed up 600. So what of its younger brother?
600s have long been my least favoured of machine when it comes to the rat-race. Keeping the revs sky high to get decent grunt doesn't suit me anymore. I'm lazy, and like power to get me out of trouble at the flick of a switch. Regardless, after about a day in the saddle I was really beginning to enjoy the little Gixer. There's a snappy naughtiness to riding the 600 -you almost feel justified in revving the thing to he moon just so you can hear that growling GSX-R induction roar - and when you're up in those upper rev echelons this thing produces some serious power. It's sublimely smooth in its delivery - like any 600 not much happens below4000rpm – however when matched to the knife-through-butter gearbox this thing is a blast to ride. It's also quite comfy.
The GSX-R has a flatter angle from the seat to the bars, meaning your backside isn't pitched towards the sky when you're doing 60km/h, and less weight on your wrists means better comfort over lonq rides. I'd like to see the tank a little thinner between the rider’s knees so it makes it more stable when you're gripping it under brakes - but that's a personal thing. The pegs are well placed for road riding and won't have your knees wrapped around your head, although comfort is pretty restricted if you try and go two-up for any decent period of time. The GSX-R600 was the first along with the 750 - Suzuki sportsbike to come out with Brembo Monobloc calipers. And like pretty much anything that comes with the Italian braking giants' products, the GSX-R will stop on a dime and give plenty of feel while doing it. These aren't the top-line Monoblocs you'll see on an RSV4, but they serve the application well.
The GSX-R is a superb road sportsbike but I'm still convinced the best place for these bikes is the track, purely because they do lack that bottom-end mumbo so needed to get out of sticky situations. Regardless, the GSX-R600 is probably the most road orientated 600 you can buy. It has an excellent spread of power, is comfy enough for a 600, and goes like a scalded cat when required. You can't ask for more than that.
Configuration In-line four cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valve per cylinder
Bore/stroke 67mm x 42.5mm
Compression ratio 12:9:1
Fuelling EFI, 4 x 40mm throttle bodies
Power 94kW @ 13,500rpm (claimed)
Torque 70Nm @ 11,500rpm (claimed)
Clutch Wet, slipper
Final drive Chain
Frame material Cast aluminium
Frame layout Twin-spar
Front: 41mm BPF, fully adjustable, 120mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, fully adjustable 130mm travel
Wheels Three-spoke, cast aluminium
Front: 17 x 3.5
Rear: 17 x 5.5
Tyres Bridgestone BT016
Front: 120/70ZR17 (58W)
Rear: 180/55ZR17 (73W)
Front: Twin 310mm disc, four- piston radial- mounted Monoblox calipers
Rear: 220mm disc, one-piston caliber
Weight 187kg (kerb, claimed)
Seat height 810mm
Max width 710mm
Max height 1135mm
Fuel capacity 17L
Fuel consumption 6.9L/100km
Top speed 270km/h (est)
Needs lots of revs
Colour of test bike!
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