The defending Supersport Street champ, watch how the Suzuki GSX-R600 fares this time in the GSX-R600 Street video.
Last redesigned in 2011, the Suzuki GSX-R600 arrives at this year’s Street Shootout the defending champion. The little Gixxer earned the top spot with its street-friendly ergonomics, improved powerband and top-shelf components. But this time around the champ faces a revitalized field.
The GSX-R600’s Inline Four sports an identical configuration as the Honda and Yamaha – 599cc with 67mm bore and 42.5mm stroke. In its shootout winning year, it clearly had the best bottom and mid-range of the 600s. This year the revised Honda has made up ground on the mid-range. The Suzuki still sports a better bottom and mid than the top-end biased Yamaha, though its peak 104.84 hp on the dyno bests only the Honda. That said, the Suzuki 600 produces one of the more useful powerbands for the street.
“The Gixxer had a linear, punchy little motor that allowed you to be in the desired powerband at all times on the street,” says Adey.
“Probably the smoothest powerband out of all of them,” confirms Nathon. “Coming into the corner and keeping the throttle on halfway and then powering out, it didn’t lurch or hiccup at all.”
While it lacks the panache of the Triples and Twin, the Suzuki’s Four sports a fearsome intake howl. It’s the most distinctive engine signature of the Japanese offerings, which all sound sporty and fun – but quite similar as well.
“I like that Suzuki stays true to its roots and the bike actually has some character,” says Adam, who cut his teeth on Gixxers back in his formative riding years. “When you have the throttle pinned the engine makes all the right noises and the intake howl for the motor is downright addictive.”
A well-sorted six-speed transmission features a cush slipper clutch – not as seamless as the Yamaha’s but close. Our testers praise the gearing, which mate well with the Zook’s power delivery. It is the least demanding of the drivetrain packages, and when shifts are required the Suzuki is snick-snick smooth.
“No hiccups in the drivetrain department,” confirms Adey. “Gear¬ing was ideal for street riding providing a meaty sauce of torque when needed.”
Smooth launches allowed Adam to fire off a 3.51-second 0-60 time, just 0.03 from scoring the top rank in this performance category. However, our Road Test Editor was unable to translate that quick jump into a corresponding quarter-mile result down the Chuckwalla airstrip, with the little Suzuki bringing up the rear at 12.34 seconds.
The Suzuki receives middling marks in the handling department, not because it does anything wrong, but a few of the other bikes are a hair’s breadth more refined. Track surfaces are pristine more often than not, road surfaces less so, and the Showa BPF delivers. The fork smooths out road imperfections without sacrificing tire feel, making for a stable, planted impression up front.
“The Gix Six steering is fast and precise,” says Adey. “I had no worries putting the front tire on my desired course. The BPF Showa fork was a plus, providing ample feedback over minor bumps in the middle of turns and keeping the bike in line.”
The Suzuki is a sporty handler, but doesn’t feel as high-strung as the Yamaha and Ducati. It is a bike that riders can hop on and ride fast, immediately. Yet, the same can be said of the Honda and Kawasaki, which also source the BPF Showa front (Honda upgrading for 2013).
Showa's Big Piston Fork delivers a stable and planted front end, with the Gixxer an intuative, easy-to-ride mount.
The addition of Brembo monoblocs was a headlining change for the Suzuki in 2011. But the Brembo monos are on the Ducati and Triumph too, with Kawasaki’s monobloc Nissin and Honda’s Tokico units rating higher this year. Riders hopping onto the Gixxer without sampling the others will find no fault from the immediate, powerful braking force. Only splitting hairs gives it a mid-pack rating.
“The Brembo chompers add extra bite, just not what is expected from the up-spec hardware,” reckons Adey. “Steel-braided lines and a Brembo master will probably put it on par with the 848 EVO in stopping power.”
The Suzuki ergonomic package continues to be a class leader. Its 31.9-inch seat height is the lowest of the test, and one of the more comfortable perches. A relaxed riding triangle contrasts some of the racier mounts, with the adjustable footpegs allowing for some fine-tuning of the riding position.
“The Suzuki 600 is comfortable,” confirms Adam. “I love that you can adjust the height of the footpegs. I prefer the low position for running around on the street and the high mount for track. The seat on it is probably the most comfortable in this test and the GSX-R feels very light too. It’s got a big windscreen, and it’s easy for me to tuck in behind it out of the elements.”
Variable engine mapping is old hat for Suzuki, which continues its Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) – offering two maps. Switching between the two is intuitive, and the Gixxer instrumentation is rated one of the best. The dash, in particular, sports a simple layout and plenty of information, including gear position indicator inlayed to the right of the easy-to-read analog tach.
Appearance-wise, the Suzuki is three years removed from its facelift, so a touchup next year wouldn’t hurt. It isn’t as stylish as the Triples, but our testers rate the Suzuki higher than the vanilla Honda and Kawasaki.
- One of best street ergonomics package, with relaxed rider triangle
- Intake howl gives Inline Four a little edge and still churns out good mid-range and bottom-end
- Solid easy-to-ride chassis transmits planted feel
- More expensive than Honda and all-new Kawasaki only $100 more
- Brembo brakes not quite as precise as rivals
The Suzuki suffered in the 2011 test as the most expensive of the 600s, and remains priced at $11,599. Now the revamped ZX-6R is the most expensive of the “600” supersports, but only by $100 more than the Suzuki. Meanwhile, the tweaked Honda is a C-note less expensive and the budget Yamaha rings in for $700 less. The Suzuki 600’s question of value also has to deal with the GSX-R750. While the middleweight Gixxer’s price has risen this year by $300, it’s still only $600 more expensive. And that $600 delivers an extra 21 horsepower and 10 lb-ft of torque. The GSX-R600’s most potent rival remains its big brother.
The Suzuki GSX-R600 is a perfect example of how a bike pays the price for not constantly evolving. This time around, the 2011 Street winner finds itself knocked off the podium by the three revised bikes for 2013. The GSX-R does nothing wrong and sports a refined performance package for the street, but it falls nonetheless. No one said the Supersport class was fair…
Read about the GSX-R600's fortunes on the track in the 2013 Suzuki GSX-R600 Supersport Track Comparison