Naked middleweights are one of the best selling sectors in Europe, and with an abundance of crowded cities and interconnecting highways, it's not hard to see why. To rip through heavy traffic you want a good view ahead; you want a light, narrow and agile bike beneath you; and you want crisp acceleration plus decent brakes. Suzuki's new GSR600 has all this and more, and at a relatively affordable $10,990 plus ORC, it shouldn't see you selling your first-born son to pay for it.
If the model name GSR600 seems oddly familiar, it should. It shares quite a bit with the GSX-R600 sportsbike, or at least the 2005 version - from which its engine has been sourced.
That 16-valve, DOHC inline four-cylinder screamer has been detuned for better low-down and mid-range grunt, but its racer-with-lights ancestry can't be denied. There's enough go around town to see you zipping through those gaps in the traffic with ease, but get it out on a race track or a winding road and you'll delight in ringing its neck.
Of course it won't offer quite the same level of mind-warping speed as a litre class machine or even a supersport 600, but there's still plenty here to keep you giggling like you're slightly unhinged, and those giggles only get louder the closer to get to its 14,500rpm rev limiter.
This spirited performance is backed up by top notch brakes (twin four-piston Tokicos), a good twin spar alloy frame and precise controls. The electronic fuel injection is crisp and clear, the clutch and gearbox are both light and its ride position is upright - it's a mid capacity streetfighter through and through.
For slicing through traffic snarls it's simply superb, although I would have expected a slightly greater steering arc. As it is it's not bad, but I would have thought that as a naked this aspect would have been exploited to the full.
The overall finish is decent enough, certainly given its price tag, and the styling is undeniably modern - whether it's your cup of tea or not is entirely up to you. I love the underseat pipes and those trick LED tail lights, but to my mind the integrated indicators up the front, and the cowling that surrounds them, makes the tank look overly big.
Fuel economy is a reasonable 17km/lt, which given its 16.5L tank should see you cover around 250km before needing to go in search a petrol station.
I really enjoyed riding the GSR600, and if commuting and the odd spirited day trip are high on the agenda, it's definitely worthy of consideration.
Engine: 599cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder
Bore and stroke: 67 x 42.5mm
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Frame: alloy twin-spar
Front brake: twin 310mm discs with four-piston Tokico calipers
Rear brake: single 240mm disc with single-piston Tokico caliper
Front suspension: 43mm forks, adjustable for preload
Rear suspension: link monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound
Wheels: three-spoke alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone BT014 Battlax; 120/70ZR17 front, 180/55ZR17 rear
Seat height: 785mm
Claimed dry weight: 183kg
Fuel tank: 16.5L
Price: $10,990 plus ORC
Colours: Candy Red
Warranty: 24 months/unlimited kilometres