The GSX-R600 and YZF-R6 are unchanged for 2007 while both the CBR and ZX feature ground up redesigns. The question is: Which bike is the one for you?
Let’s feel for the poor motojournalists who must go through the exhausting rigmarole every year to decide which is the best supersport. Although the silence from your cries of sympathy are deafening, it really becomes a struggle to discern which contender is better and why. Although we must declare winners and non-winners, there are no losers here. Each bike is a thrilling machine that has greater capabilities than 99% of riders, so don’t necessarily think that a lower rating for a bike in our test is any measure of condemnation.
As close as the competition is in this class, at least there are some identifiable distinctions between the brands and models. Even our top-rated bike is not without a wart or two. Perhaps the perfect bike could be made by combining the CBR’s motor, the R6’s chassis, the ZX’s tranny and clutch, with the adjustable ergos and high value of the Gixxer.
In case the OEMs are paying attention, here’s the stuff your next supersport should have: slipper clutch, fuel gauge, gear-position indicator, clock, lap timer, some form of adjustable footpegs and levers. A bit of wind protection would be nice, as would an engine that pulled with authority below 10 grand.
The oddest thing about this test is how the weights of the group have grown so divergent. Just two years ago, the participants in our 2005 shootout were separated by just 5 pounds. In ’07 that gap is 32 pounds. Now, a few pounds here and there can’t really be felt by a rider, but a 32-lb extra burden will undeniably have an effect on performance.
With all that said, our scorecards were tallied and the marks speak for themselves.
Final Score: 86.1%
First off, let’s point out that an 86% score will still get you into a good college. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the lil’ Gixxer, and it should be noted that some riders might be best served to pick the Suzi depending on their type of riding. In several ways, it is the most streetable scoot of this quartet. We had a blast riding it around, and none of us would consider it a disappointment if it were the only bike in our garage.
Final Score: 88.5%
The middleweight Ninja is the victim of bad timing. Its 599cc mill and flawless transmission would’ve made it the best powertrain of them all – if it had come out last year. As it is, the grunt advantage it once enjoyed during the 636cc days is now owned by the Honda. Good thing, then, that Kawasaki engineers have hewn what we think is the best handling Ninja ever. Had this bike come out last year, it likely could’ve beat the 2006 CBR600RR and it nearly edged out the scintillating R6.
There are three areas that hold back the ZX’s scores: Top-end power, weight and (for some) its appearance. If you like the looks of this bike and wouldn’t hesitate about fitting an aftermarket exhaust system, we recommend you take a good long look at the ZX-6R. There’s probably 20 lbs of weight that can be dumped with a lightweight exhaust, and the extra power to be had from the pipe and the ECU trick will definitely help it breathe.
The 2007 Yamaha R6 is a feisty competitor on the track and a surprisingly smooth steed on the street.
Final Score: 89.8%
The R6 pulls at us in two directions. Its riding position, tall seat height, groggy low-end power and narrow-engagement clutch result in a bike that logically can’t be a great bike for normal street riding. But those things are quickly forgotten when presented with an empty road that twists across a mountain range or, better yet, a racetrack.
Despite the YZF’s faults, the R6 gives its rider a feeling that he/she’s on something special. This is the bike to be on if you want to impress the crowd at your local burger joint – it’s a real eye magnet. However, the R6 experience is immensely more stimulating when revving the nuts off it.
Final Score: 93.3%
Let’s take a moment here to recognize the accomplishment Honda has made. Despite a close similarity in specifications, the CBR’s engine now feels as if it has a big-bore kit, never mind that the R6 puts the bigger number up. A smaller number is better when it comes to weight, and here again the Honda magicians have exceeded the best efforts from the other OEMs.
But more than that, there’s just nothing that this CBR can’t do. On our scorecards it had only mark below 90, and the 85 it got for User Friendliness was just 3 points away from the top spot in that category. It took top honors in eight of 15 categories, not least of which was the perfect 100% score it received in our critical Grin Factor category.
You might say this latest CBR is a grin factory.
Check out the following links for some extra tidbits about our shootout.
Streets of Willow Track Map (Google Earth file)
Look at our lines as we spin some laps at Streets of Willow. If you don’t have Google Earth installed, click here to get the free download. Otherwise just hit this link to view it in your regular web browser.
Supersport So-Cal Street Ride Map (Google Earth file)
We also took the 600s out on the street. Check out our So-Cal adventure. If you don’t have Google Earth installed, click here to get the free download. Otherwise just hit this link to view it in your regular web browser.
Let us know what you think about this comparo in the Motorcycle USA Forum.
Want to see how your favorite bike did in the grand scheme of things? Check out our full scoresheet Full Score Sheet.
Want to see which bike we’d pick if it were coming out of our bank accounts? Check out For My Money.