Engineered for racers seeking an effective and easily modifiable race bike, Suzuki’s 2013 GSX-R600 ($11,599) has been a favorite for club and professional racers alike. It’s a proven package, having netted three of four AMA Daytona SportBike Championships. Even though it received a refresh two years ago, today’s Gixxer-6 is one of the older platforms in this contest. Can it still compete against the newer generation machines?
Compared to other manufacturers’ regularly scheduled wheel-to-wheel redesigns, Suzuki prefers to develop its sportbikes through carefully crafted refinements. Thus today’s GSX-R600 doesn’t feel a whole lot different than it did a decade ago. Of course, it is lighter, faster, and better handling, but the real benefit is how familiar a platform it is for many of our testers.
“Obviously doing as many schools as I do every year, and my long association with Suzuki, I am pretty familiar with the 600 and it is an unbelievable motorcycle,” Pridmore says.
) The Suzuki GSX-R600 has a smooth and steady stream of power but lacks the outright acceleration of the R6. (Center
) The Suzuki’s ergonomics were rated the best and were the most versatile of the group. (Bottom
) The GSX-R600 is the second-lightest bike in this contest weighing just two pounds more than the CBR.
Swing a leg of the red GSX-R and it’s clear that it’s one of the lighter bikes in this contest. It has a low center of gravity and balanced ergonomic set-up that were the most versatile and functional for all of our riders from 5’4” Dunstan to 6’2” Colton. With its fuel tank topped off it weighs 417 pounds. That’s only two pounds more than the Honda, 11 down on the Yamaha and 16 less than the 848.
“The GSX-R feels light underneath you,” says Colton. “It isn’t quite as maneuverable as the Honda or Kawasaki but I wouldn’t say it’s slow to turn either. Overall, I’d rank it about mid-pack.”
Whether braking into a corner, or dragging a knee through a turn, the Suzuki handles it all with poise and is both predictable and sure-footed. It instills confidence in the way it responds to rider input, never doing more or less than what is inputted through the controls. The fork and shock offered above average balance and pitch control under load but didn’t have the sharp level of response that we got from the Ohlins-equipped Triumph or even the Yamaha. Still the suspension performs as advertised and gets the job done without fuss.
Although we all liked the Suzuki’s handling, through Turns 8/9/10 it posted a side-to-side flick rate that was the third-lowest of the group, ahead of only the Ducati and MV. This was surprising because the Gixxer didn’t feel especially heavy to turn but did require a hair more effort than the other bikes from Japan and the cat-like Triumph. It was more of the same through corners with it registering mid-pack corner speeds in each of the three measuring areas (Turns 4/5, 13, and 16). Max lean angle through the bowl was also toward the back of the group.
“The GSX-R600 is a great, solid bike that you can't go wrong with… unless the R6 or the CBR600RR is on track with you,” smiles Wooldridge. “It felt a bit dated. I was confident on it, but at the same time nothing really stood out as ‘wow, this is the best’.”
Behind the windscreen it was obvious that the Suzuki 600 comes up a bit short in the motor department. While the engine makes all the right sounds and has a pretty wide powerband for a 600, it doesn’t have the high rpm snap of the R6 or the bigger displacement bikes. Still it was able to net the third-best acceleration force number when averaged, proving it can hold its own on track.
Suzuki GSX-R600 Settings:
Preload: 6.25 (Turns in)
Compression: 3.5 (Turns out)
Preload: 1 Turn from standard
Low-Speed Compression: 1.75
High-Speed Compression: 2.75
Dyno testing reveals the Suzuki’s mill generates the second-lowest horsepower output with 104.84 ponies cranked out at the rear Bridgestone tire at 13,500 rpm. Over-rev Is pretty good, however, with another 1800 rpm remaining before the limiter shuts down the fun. Its peak torque figure also placed it second from the back with 44.69 lb-ft available at a lofty 11,700 rpm. Modest top-end power meant that the Suzuki achieved a lower top speed at the end of the straightaways placing it just in front of the CBR when averaged. Another problem was its gearbox, which felt stickier than we remember and took the most amount of effort to upshift under load. If there was one bike that could benefit from a quickshifter—the Suzuki would be it.
) Stable, planted, easy to ride, the GSX-R600 is all of these things. It is one of the more refined pieces of hardware on the grid. (Center
) The monobloc calipers from Brembo have good power and are easy to modulate. Only problem is that they fade slightly and don’t offer 100% consistent lever feel like the other set-ups. (Bottom
) The GSX-R600’s suspension is balanced but lacks the sharp feel of the Ohlins-equipped Triumph or Yamaha R6.
“It still lacks that acceleration out of the corners. And that’s why the lap time suffered so much on that bike,” said Pridmore, who has an intimate knowledge of the Suzuki, having used them as his classroom bike. “The chassis and all the other good things on it are great. But the acceleration is kind of a typical GSX-R600 for me. It’s one of those bikes where if you get stuck in a gear too short, it’s too short. And if you’re rolling through a corner in a gear too tall it’s got nothing on your exits. When I used to race those bikes we had to gear em’ short so that I could get them to accelerate and it’s still kind of the same bike.”
“The engine really holds this bike back,” Wooldridge adds. “Not terrible; but not exactly awesome either. I felt like the Suzuki was similar to a working tool that’s made just to get the job done.”
“All around on the track it is a good bike. It doesn’t present any huge flaws but it doesn’t stand out in any one area,” Zemke agrees.
“I’ve always liked riding GSX-Rs and it was the first bike I jumped on at the track, but I must admit it is starting to feel a bit dated after riding all the other bikes,” Carruthers added.
Suzuki continues to be the only Japanese bike that comes from the factory with Brembo monobloc front brake calipers. Only problem is the set-up doesn’t work as sharply as the pieces fitted on the Ducati or Triumph. We encountered a small amount of brake fade during track use. However, the data shows that even with its inconsistent lever feel, when averaged the Gixxer-6 recorded the highest braking force figure.
The Suzuki is as familiar as a worn-in glove and easy to get a feel for on the track. Handling is predictable but it lacks the pinpoint accuracy of the leaders. Engine performance was adequate but lacked the snappiness of the fast revving bikes. In the end, the Suzuki 600 is a good performing motorcycle that does many things well but nothing outstanding. Middle of the road scores, including its Superpole average, hurt it on the scorecard keeping it adrift of the Supersport crown for another year.