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2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Street Comparison

Monday, May 23, 2011


Suzuki enters our ninth Supersport test with a big ol’ goose-egg in overall wins. The Gixxer has enjoyed a reputation as a solid all-rounder, and while close a time or two that coveted comparison win has proven elusive. The hard luck Suzuki rebounds on this next go ‘round, however, standing out as the only full redesign of the 2011 600 class. The little Gixxer, and its 750 sibling, come to this year’s shootout with a trimmer, revitalized chassis and higher spec components.

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2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Street Comparison Video
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The only redesigned for 2011 600 in our shootout. See how the new Gixxer fares in our 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Street Comparison Video.
The Suzuki’s 599cc Inline Four does set itself apart, however, as producing the most robust bottom end of the 600s. It has a decided advantage up to 6K in torque production, the power curve waffling momentarily before jetting up top again and registering the highest peak numbers of it 599cc competitors at 44.6 lb-ft (11,600 rpm). Measuring horsepower on the dyno sees the Suzuki peter out at 104.17, with the Kawasaki necking it out by three ponies thanks a better top-end hit.

Rolled off the dyno and the Suzuki provides pleasing, street-friendly engine performance. The Kawasaki may get it up at the very top, and the Honda gives it a run for its money in the mid-range, but the bottom end is the Gixxer’s domain – at least in the traditional 600 class. Keeping these bikes screaming up in the meat of the powerband is a challenge on the street, so it’s no wonder the forgiving bottom-end of the GSX-R600 earned it the highest engine ratings of the Japanese bikes.

The Suzuki GSX-R600 really impressed us with its overall performance.
Never a winner in our Supersport Shootouts, the Suzuki finally gets a victory with its revitalized 2011 GSX-R600.
This easy-to-ride nature is supplemented by the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS). Tweaked for 2011, instead of the familiar A, B and C modes, there are now only two engine maps to control power output. A bonus for riders, the S-DMS is the only multi-map option found in this year’s crop of supersports. The truth, however, is we didn’t make much use of the S-DMS, as the standard A-mode is a fine blend of smooth power delivery and exhilarating acceleration.

A 10.7 quarter-mile during performance testing, as well as a 3.32 in the 0-60 evaluation, prove the Suzuki has some beans in that motor. It rated behind the Ducati and Triumph, but up front in the Japanese stable (though the Kawasaki just beat it in 0-60 at 3.3 seconds). Says Waheed, “Launching the Suzuki 600 is a little easier than the other Japanese bikes because of its slightly stronger bottom-end engine power. You still have to make sure you have the engine rpms up at launch, but since the powerband is a little more robust you have some lee-way and can still get off the line fairly well without as much of a chance of it bogging.”

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Dyno Chart
Peak horsepower (104.17) and torque (44.6) rate mid-pack but the GSX-R600 delivers the best bottom-end of the 600s.
It certainly feels fast from behind the Gixxer Six controls, and a big part of that sensory experience comes from the stout engine and exhaust sounds. “GSX-Rs have always been known for their charismatic induction howl and this is no different,” noted Adam at the press launch earlier this year. And we couldn’t agree more after hearing it back to back with the competition. The little GSX-R’s robust exhaust note hurt it some in the points, the loudest at idle (84 dB) and half redline (97 dB), but the spirited tones gave the Suzuki more mojo than its 600 rivals. “I loved the way that thing sounds. It’s fun to get on the pipe and ride it,” agrees Simon.

A top-rated drivetrain divvies out power to the rear wheel. Uber smooth and sorted, the Suzuki six-speed is complemented by an idiot-proof slipper clutch. We needled around to find some complaints, there’s just nothing to whine about with the impressive package.

The same can be said of the excellent braking package. Like the Triumph and Ducati, the addition of Brembo monoblocs is a headlining upgrade. The Brembos exhibit immediate stopping power, which is authoritative without
The ergonomics of the GSX-R600 are excellent making it a very comfortable sportbike to ride.2011-Suzuki-GSX-R600-2.jpg
All of our testers loved the way the Suzuki GSX-R600 handled through corners.
The ergonomics of the GSX-R600 are excellent, making it a very comfortable sportbike on the street. The Gixxer's handling and braking performance make for an all-around easy-to-ride mount on the public roads.
being grabby. Combined with precise input at the lever, the components deliver another class-leading rank on our scoresheet. This mark is further bolstered by our Road Test Editor on the 60 to zero performance test – the Gixxer Six casting a slim shadow over the field with a 122-foot reading.

The Suzuki chassis got the biggest facelift in the 2011 redesign. A new 43mm three-way-adjustable Showa Big Piston Fork debuts, with the rear shock reconfigured to work with the new front end. The suspension is mated to an all-new twin spar aluminum frame, which alters the 54.5-inch wheelbase by a scant 15mm. Our scales indicated a curb weight of 415 pounds, which does indeed trim some fat off the 421 pounds measured in our 2009 test (though not close to the 20-pound claim).

Hustling about on the street, the Gixxer delivers a planted feel in the corners and comforting stability. The front end felt particularly impressive, our Road Test Editor noting its stability under hard braking – which likely boosted the Gixxer’s performance in that category as well. The Bridgestone BT-016 tires seemed to make a perfect fit for the street-bound GSXR too. While it does rate behind the Honda and Triumph in the overall handling marks, this is a compliment to those rides, not a dig on the Suzuki. The 600 and 750 both exhibit all the tell-tale signs of an easy-to-ride bike: point and shoot, effortless turn it, the bike seems to turn itself, I looked down and couldn’t believe how fast I was going… all were talking points made by various testers in regards to the Suzukis.

The Suzuki’s class-leading street ergonomics no doubt contribute to this easy-riding sensation. The 31.9-inch seat, while fractionally lowest to the ground in this comparison, is far and away the plushest perch. Riding position is more upright on the GSX-Rs, as much as a SS can be termed upright. The clip on bars feel higher placed, and wider. This provides comfort with less pressure exerted on the wrists, as well as a skosh extra leverage when maneuvering.

The windscreen delivers decent wind protection, that is to say a steady, buffet-less airflow to the riders upper chest. Behind it is a functional, informative dash, with analog tach and right side digital speedo. The gear position indicator is prominent, a welcome feature on a street bike. The advantage of the S-DMS option, however, is what gets the Suzuki a top mark in the instrumentation/electronics category.

At 35.2 mpg, only the two-cylinder Ducati sipped fuel with more efficiency than the GSX-R600. Its 4.5 gallon tank equates to a 158.5-mile range, just eeking ahead of the Honda by less than half a mile. These fractional wins are offset by the Suzuki’s $11,599 MSRP. Ringing in as the costliest of the 600s, the Suzuki is just $300 more than the Honda but nearly a thousand more than Yamaha and an even $1600 above the budget-minded Kawasaki. Another stab at the Suzuki was its OEM replacement parts costs, which were more than double the Yamaha and easily the costliest of the

Highs & Lows
Highs
  • The best street ergonomics of the class, with comfortable seat and bar placement
  • Superb tranmission and slipper clutch
  • Top rated brakes courtesy of new Brembo monobloc calipers
  • Chassis delivers excellent stability with Showa Big Piston Fork
Lows
  • $11,599 MSRP costliest of the 600s
  • Loses something on the top end
  • Appearance rated best of Japanese bikes but no match for European
Big Four entries. But those extra bucks do reflect the most updated round of SS technology, making us wonder what the next generation 600s will cost from Suzuki’s rivals.

Even with the high-ish pricetag, the GSX-R600 comes out a winner on the street. It’s a notable first-ever win for the Gixxer, and while Suzuki execs might not be pinning this review up on their walls in adoration, this has to be a morale-booster for the Gixxer clan. After a decade of utter dominance in AMA racing, Suzuki’s powerhouse sportbike status has dimmed of late. While the Japanese manufacturers all got hit hard by the market downturn, Suzuki seemed to get it the worst. This was punctuated by the humiliating and dire move to import zero GSX-R sportbikes to the States in 2010. But 2011 is another year – another opportunity to succeed or fail. And in our 2011 Supersport Street Shootout the GSX-R600 is a success – the clear favorite as comparison winner.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Street Gallery
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Suzuki GSX-R600 Technical Specs
2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 Supersport Shootout
2011 Suzuki GSX-R600
Engine: 599cc Inline Four
Bore x Stroke: 67 x 42.5mm
Compression: 12.9:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 16-valve
Clutch: Wet, slipper
Final Drive Ratio: 16/43
Frame: Twin spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm Showa BPF 3-way adjustment with 4.7 in travel 
Rear Suspension: Showa 4-way adjustable 4.9 in
Front Calipers: 4-piston Brembo monobloc
Front Discs: 310mm
Rear Brakes: Single 220mm
Tires: Bridgestone Battlax BT016
Wheelbase: 54.5                 Seat Height: 31.9
Weight Total: 415                Weight F/R: 218/197
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal
MSRP: $11,599

PERFORMANCE TESTING:
Peak Horsepower: 104.17 @ 13,700
Peak Torque: 44.6 @ 11,600
1/4 Mile: 10.7 @ 130.8       0-60: 3.32
Braking 60-0: 122
MPG: 35.2                             Range: 158.5 miles
Sound Idle: 84     Sound Half Redline: 97 @ 7500

REPLACEMENT PARTS:
Crankshaft: $1002               Piston: $113
Clip-on Bars: $179/$175
Front Brake Lever: $88.50 Front Clutch Lever: $35
Footpegs: $30                       Footpeg Brackets: $96
Rear Brake Lever: $89       Shift Lever: $92
Radiator: $655                      OEM Air Filter: $38
Mirrors: $118.50                   Turn Signals: $43.15

2011 Supersport Shootout Fuel Milage
2011 Supersport Shootout Fuel Milage
2011 Supersport Shootout Braking
2011 Supersport Shootout Braking
Suzuki Sportbike Dealer Locator

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Comments
GixxerDude   December 2, 2012 01:50 AM
I owned a 2007, 2009 and currently a 2011 GSXR 600. NEGATIVES: My two gripes for the L1 are: (1) really weak top end: my k7 and k9 had way more power up top... (2) ugly headlight. I wish the front stayed the same or similar to the k9. Other than those 2 gripes, I think the L1 is way better than the k7 or k9. POSITIVES: You can feel the weight reduction on turns, standing at a stop light and launches, extra low end and decent mid range power, unbelievable SHOWA BPF for super comfortable rides, and BREMBO MB brakes that stop so much quicker than the outdated Nissin brakes. I've done quick stops w/o locking the brakes as if it were an ABS system. The S-DMS is awesome. I've got as much as 60mpg on B mode staying below 6000RPM (during the break-in period). I keep in A mode most of the time now and average about 38mpg with 91 octane. I like B mode for tighter canyons going downhill and rainy days. It helps keep me from having jerky movement and helps maintain traction. CONCLUSION: The (+) outweigh the (-). I was fortunate to get a close-out 2011 for really cheap and qualified for the 0%APR/60 months promotion. I've rode it 7000 miles already as my commuter and canyon rides. I love it. No track experience yet, but I'm worried that the lack of top end will leave me behind all other 600cc supersports.