Horsepower: 105.15 hp @ 13,000rpm
Torque: 43.91 lbs.-ft. @ 11,300rpm
Weight: 421.2 lbs w/fuel, 399.5 lbs w/o fuel
Superpole Time: 1:21.03 (Atlas)
¼ Mile: 11.11 @ 132.33 mph
Top Speed: 162.22 mph
Overall Ranking: 5th-place
While easy to forget about, the sleeper of this year’s shootout is the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R600. Updated slightly last year, the Gixxer remains unchanged for ‘09, with the exception of bold new graphics and hot-looking white wheels, but it’s still plenty capable. Had we ridden this bike in a stand-alone test I can say with 100-percent certainty we would have loved it. But in this cutthroat world of Supersport Supremacy, anything less than perfection can mean the difference between running up front and bringing up the rear.
At the ultra-fast and flowing Willow Springs big track the Suzuki proved to be very stable and with some minor suspension changes was extremely easy to ride quickly. The tradeoff for this stability was a lack of some flickability compared to the other machines, not to mention the wet weight of the GSX-R (421 pounds) was one of the highest of the bunch and no doubt it showed. There’s still plenty to like about this motorcycle, so don’t forget about the Suzuki GSX-R600 video review for a glimpse of what the baby Gixxer looks like in action.
“The Suzuki didn’t turn in so well,” Garcia interjects. “I felt like I had to fight it to go into the corner. But the Suzuki had a good overall suspension package. The shock matched the fork quite well and gives the bike some great mid-corner stability.”
“Once in the corner the Suzuki is rock solid,” agrees Chuckie. “Very easy to make corrections mid-corner, no complaints at all in regards to the stability of the chassis.”
Dhien adds: “Suzuki’s heavier feeling front end was a bit disappointing compared to the others, taking quite a bit more effort to get turned. It’s much more planted once in the middle of the corner, though both the fork and shock lacked feedback compared to the competition.”
The ’09 GSX-R features white wheels that really cap-off a retro theme that we all thought is really cool. We dig it baby.
A-B-C Modes on a 600 – really?
Putting power to the ground on the Suzuki has never been an issue and most all commended its rider-friendliness, but when it comes to the “exhilaration factor” and sheer speed, the GSX-R is starting to show signs of its age. While it was slightly updated last year, this basic platform has been around since 2005. It still pulled solid dyno numbers (105.15 hp @ 13,000 rpm), but on the track if felt far less exciting than just about everything else. This was also partially echoed during our pilgrimage out to HPCC for performance testing, as it was tied for third in top-speed testing with a 162.22 mph pass as its best. Also, with its very easy-to-use clutch and extremely precise launches it mustered a 11.11 @ 133.74 mph, leaving it tied for third-place in the quarter-mile. While this is favorable, there is no doubt its weight (421.2 lbs.) and bulbous fairing played a major role in holding it back.
“With advancement in technology it’s sometimes hard to keep up,” explains Professor Sorensen. “Some of the other manufactures have made advancements in low-end power delivery and it clearly shows. The Suzuki makes decent power through the rev-range but feels more flat with no hit anywhere. Much less exciting.”
Frankie backs-up Chuck’s sentiments. He wasn’t overly impressed with the Suzuki despite its results at the drag strip that had it tied with the ZX with an 11.11-second effort in the quarter mile: “I was really surprised with the GSX-R motor. It felt the slowest of all the new middleweights. It also would cut out occasionally (when getting back on the throttle) around 10,000 rpm – 11,000 rpm.”
We’re at a loss for what would cause the engine to cut out as Garcia mentioned, with our only guess being something to do with the ram-air as it didn’t show up on the dyno at all. Also receiving mixed reviews among the bunch were its brakes. They had plenty of outright power, but a lack of feedback through the lever causes reason for concern.
“Suzuki was just missing a bit of a ‘bite’ compared to the others,” Dhien says. “It had power, but it lacked a bit of rider feel.”
The real surprise of the test, however, came in our Superpole session. Despite the tight and technical nature of Streets of Willow, not a track one would think the Suzuki is suited for, the GSX-R proved many wrong. At the hands of Atlas it posted the third-quickest time of this highly-competitive pack, a lightning-fast 1:21.03, topping the Honda, Ducati and Triumph. Who would’ve thought?
Hutchison hauls the Suzuki around Streets of Willow. Smooth power delivery made the ‘Zuki easy to ride.
Yet another star on the board came when it was time to ride them on the street. Suzuki again proved to be neck-and-neck with the Honda and Kawasaki for top honors. Its wind protection and ergonomics were voted some of the best of the bunch, as was its stability and user friendly engine.
“Somehow riding a Suzuki has eluded me my whole life,” Kennedy says. “So, this being my first time riding one I was surprised with how happy I was with it. Honestly, I don’t know why I would have assumed any different. And I also sat in it rather than on top of it, which always makes me feel comfortable. I would say that the Kawasaki and Suzuki were tied for top spot in my book. I’m not totally sure if the fact that I was surprised with how instantly comfortable I was with the bike made me not really pay attention to any short comings, but either way that says a lot.”
Adds Simon: “The Suzuki’s motor was great. It felt as if there was plenty of power all the way through. Positioning on the bike is very comfortable as well, as was the wind protection. Definitely a great street bike.”
When the votes were in and the points tallied, the Suzuki’s age proved just too great to overcome. Low subjective numbers on the racetrack, plus top speed and quarter-mile times toward the back of the pack were nearly impossible to make up for. It’s undoubtedly a great all-around performer for all-level riders and its strong street prowess helped to close the gap, but in this tightly-knit pack the Gixxer was only able to manage fifth spot. Though judging by the release of a new GSX-R1000 this year (stay tuned for a First Ride in a few weeks!) and Suzuki’s track record of updating the 600 and 750 the year following the 1000, we would expect a new or updated model for 2010. And I’m sure Suzuki knows exactly what is needed to give it that razor-sharp edge…
Suzuki GSX-R600 Final Settings
(measured from stock)
Compression: +1/2 turn
Rebound: +1/2 turn
Preload: +2 turns