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2013 Middleweight Supersport Shootout X Conclusion

Monday, June 17, 2013

Adam Waheed, Age: 33 Height: 6’0” Weight: 181 pounds, Racing: Yamaha YZF-R6 Track Days: MV Agusta F3

First off I love Suzuki’s GSX-R750. That and the Kawasaki Ninja were the bikes I liked riding the most during our test. But since both those bikes fall outside the traditional 600cc racing class I wouldn’t buy one. I would get an R6. Over the years I’ve raced R6’s and for the money they are simply the best race bike you can buy. They are fairly easy to work on, reliable and it’s easy to get parts. They can be a little finicky to set-up but when you get it right they absolutely rip. If you’re going racing it’s a no-brainer. Buy an R6. But for track days when it’s all about having a good time, instead of trying to set the fastest lap (well hopefully it’s about fun) then I’d for sure ride an MV. It certainly isn’t the fastest bike for me, but I just plain like riding it. It’s nimble, has a good center of gravity and has an old school feel to it. The front end dives all crazy style when you brake then squats like an old school superbike when you slam open the throttle. The whole time the engine is screaming like it’s going to explode… it’s a wonderful thing. If you’re concerned about having a whole lot of smiles and don’t mind spending some extra cash, do yourself a favor and buy an MV.

Jason Pridmore, Age: 43 Height: 6’0” Weight: 185 pounds, Racing: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R or Yamaha YZF-R6

The bike I’d personally buy for racing? That’s a tough choice. But I would choose the Kawasaki. The Kawi is really good. I don’t know what the exact form it needs to be raced in but I would go with the green bike or the Yamaha. The Honda handles so amazing but the acceleration comes up short and would put me at a little disadvantage right out of the gate.

Jen Ross Dunstan, Age: 25 Height: 5’4” Weight 105 pounds, Racing: Triumph Daytona 675R Track Days: MV Agusta F3

For me, the Triumph 675R is the obvious choice for a bike that is ready to race. Out of the box this bike is practically race prepped with all the goodies you would typically have to add on later- Brembo brakes, quick shifter, slipper clutch, and Ohlins suspension. When I’m going racing I need a bike that I can handle and have confidence on. The 675R had ergonomics that suited me great- short seat height, narrow tank, comfortable reach to the bars. Having a bike that fits my size and stature meant instant comfort and confidence and I was knee dragging and up to speed within my first session out. Add in smooth shifting, solid brakes, precise turn in and superb grip in the corners and you have a bike that allows you to focus on the main thing - improving your racing skills.

I choose the F3 as a track bike because I like that it is a unique model and it is just tons of fun to ride. The ergonomics of this bike was definitely suited to a shorter person like me and I found slow, smooth hands to be the key to manipulating this motorcycle's sensitive controls. Although some other testers found the acceleration to be a bit odd I personally enjoyed the power delivery of this bike, it was punchy and exciting going down the straights. The turn-in on this bike was fast and the F3 was super responsive to mid-corner inputs, something I wouldn’t mind if I were new to a track and still learning the race line. What resonates with me most and made me choose the F3 is that it is truly a different feel and sound from all the other bikes - and in a good way.

Jake Zemke, Age: 37 Height: 5’6” Weight: 150 pounds, Racing: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

As we rode in stock trim, for me the ZX-6R was the best bike. It was the most balanced and with that extra power it feels more like a race motor. It’s a little stronger off the bottom and pulls a little harder. Then also factor in the suspension, handling, and the riding position. It might not be the most comfortable on the street but it was the best bike out of the box in stock form at the track that day. It was by far the most pleasurable bike to ride.

Berto Wooldridge, Age: 38 Height: 5’8” Weight: 160 pounds Racing: Yamaha YZF-R6

The Yamaha R6 Is the number one selling 600 for a reason… it's so darn good. I can't say enough about the bike and while I wanted to really like a different machine, the R6 just did everything near perfect without a hiccup. No tucked front ends, no missed apexes (due to the bike) and when I did miss one, it was easy to get back to, perfect exits, great entries, cozy riding position, Awesome chassis… what is there to find wrong? How about that it’s been near six years since a restyle? That's a good one for what's wrong… but I see why, the bike is so damn good!

Paul Carruthers, Age: 52 Height: 5’8” Weight: 155 pounds Racing: Triumph Daytona 675R Track Day: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

When Waheed posed the question of which bike I'd chose to go racing on and which bike I'd choose for track days, I had to scratch my head. Fortunately, his question about my age, height and weight were easier to answer, if not more painful. At first I thought it was kind of odd that you'd pick two different bikes to either race at the track or ride around at the track, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. For both, however, I'd pick the two bikes with bigger displacement. Mainly because I think both the Triumph and the Kawasaki can be a bit more forgiving on the track when you make a mistake… and I make plenty. I guess that's the "no replacement for displacement theory" as there's nothing quite like having a bit more grunt to make up for an error. Although I didn't mess with it at Chuckwalla because I didn't have the time, I'd like to spend a day or two getting the Triumph perfected as far as making it feel and work better for me. But the potential is there and I think at that point it would be a great bike to race. As for a track-day bike… well, it seems like you could just jump on the Kawasaki and go, thus spending more time working on your riding than on the getting the bike set-up. And isn't that the reason we do track days?

Bobby Ali, Age: 41 Height: 5’8” Weight: 185 pounds, Racing: Honda CBR600RR Track Day: MV Agusta F3

All of the Supersport bikes are amazing nowadays… but for racing there are some that are better than others. The Kawasaki, Honda, and MV impressed me the most on the track. The Honda would be a good choice, as the motor was great, and the bike turned in effortlessly. As a novice rider my main concern is on how the bike feels in the turns. The Honda gave me the confidence to push a little harder than some of the others. The Kawasaki had an amazing motor and having a slipper clutch is always a plus. Of all the 600s, this motor felt the strongest, even though the suspension was the softest of all the bikes. However, the top choice for the track for me is the MV. Wow, this bike is excellent. This Triple has an amazing motor that loves to be ridden up in the revs. The suspension is gives a lot of feel and was the best for the track set-up. The sound that the motor makes is eutrophic when you are up in the revs! The only thing that takes getting used to is the fly-by-wire throttle. It’s a bit quirky and feels abrupt at times. Still, I would buy the MV for my track bike all day long.

Supersport Shootout X - Torque comparison chart.2013 Supersport Shootout X - Horsepower comparison chart.
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Jocasaja   September 15, 2014 12:05 PM
I recently traded in my gsxr 600 for the Kawasaki 636 - Loved the little gixer, and am beginning to gel with the 636 - definitely has a bit more mid range 'shove' and the best gearbox that I have ever experienced. Comfortable, although not quite as comfortable as the suzuki. Also the sound is not quite as good - Kawa has a leo vince can and the suzuki a yoshimura. Traction control is good - only noticed it cut in a couple of times. I believe that the Kawasaki has slightly better build quality. Have had loads of sportsbikes over 25 yrs of riding and I am sure that the 600 class is the most fun - NOBODY needs a 1000 on the road. Here in the UK I have a few places where I can get up to maybe 140 mph, but it is far more fun doing it on a screaming 600. A well ridden 600 will keep up with a 1000 in the 'twisies'
RENDELL   August 30, 2013 06:47 PM
I researched all the bikes on here for months and I test drove most of them. I am a Honda man but... I bought the Kawasaki 636 Ninja. I did 1200 miles on it thus far. It is my 10th motorcycle (I'm 40). The 636 is the best 600 in many ways. It is sublimely smooth, perfect throttle response, very powerful yet controllable brakes, fierce acceleration, and simply slices and carves through corners! Unlike most of its peers, it has torque and plenty of power starting at 2000 RPM. The handling of the bike is what stole my heart. It is beautiful in the flesh (I bought the black and green) and pictures do not do it justice! My only complaints are: No steering damper and a fuel gauge would be nice since it was designed more for the street. I rode it on the famous Palomar Mountain and the 636 Ninja performed flawlessly. The 636 Ninja is exceptionally SMOOTH like a 1000cc motorcycle. You don't have to remove the fairing to perform an oil change which is tribute to its intelligent design. Minus the torque, I like it better in every way than my 2008 CBR1000RR. This 636 Ninja will only make the competition better. I can't wait to see the 2014/5 Yamahas, GSXRs, etc.!
Eudy   June 24, 2013 07:37 PM
What a great shootout! BTW, greetings from Brazil, guys. Down here can't get some of these bikes (except through independent importers), like the F3, the GSXR600, the Duc and the R6. But we do have official manufacturer support for the GSXR750, the 636, the CBR600RR and the 675R. Triumph has just arrived at the samba land and it's come with a very aggressive price strategy. Would you believe the new 2013 Daytona 675R has the lowest price tag of them all? It's cheaper than the Ninja ZX6R ABS, the GSX-R750 and also cheaper than the CBR600RR ABS. This makes picking one of them not an easy task.
slant2   June 23, 2013 11:21 PM
@Rendell I have to agree with you and MotocycleUSA about the ZX6R being such a great machine. I just bought one!
RENDELL   June 21, 2013 08:50 PM
For me? I thought you'd never ask. Racing: ZX-6R. Track Day: ZX-6R. If you cut me a open, I bleed Honda Red. But, that new Ninja from Kawasaki is unprecedented for a middleweight and it looks bad ass too.
Piglet2010   June 20, 2013 06:14 PM
@ cggunnersmate - In SuperBike the I-4 and V-2 engines get 1000 and 1200cc, respectively; so to keep the same ratios for SuperSport, V-2 engines should be limited to 720cc, so the Ducati EVO should have a significant advantage. Of course, if you are THE MOTOR COMPANY, you get to race an 1125cc Rotax V-2 against Japanese 600cc I-4 engines.
Muzzy   June 20, 2013 05:11 PM
" When you have fewer larger pistons, you can't reach the same RPMs as the smaller 4 cylinder bikes, so to make comparable HP you need to increase displacement.". There's no simple rule of thumb that says that you need more CCs' to make up for fewer cylinders, or that fours can outrev triples and twins. It completely depends on the design & state of tune of each engine. That's like assuming that a bike will make more power because it has a bigger engine. That's why they do the tests, Jack...
Muzzy   June 20, 2013 10:12 AM
@cggunnersmate you're missing the point that Chuckwalla, any tight "technical" track, is supposed to favor 600s (if not 300s LOL ) over bigger, faster bikes esp bikes with longer gearing. But it's just one track. All of the racing results here depend on the track as much as anything else. And there are a LOT of other variables other than displacement and cylinder-count, which is why in the end the results are so subjective. I think this is much more valuable for the observations that go into the final result, more than the final result itself.
MCUSA Bart   June 20, 2013 08:42 AM
fivespeed, 0-60 and 1/4-mile times forthcoming in the Supersport Street test, where they factor into the scoring. Unfortunately our data acquisition GPS malfunctioned and we can't report 60-0 braking this time. Griffin, the Street test also factors in Range rankings into the scorecard - which helps reward bikes with larger tanks, or at least help off-set the weight penalty. Working on the Street test right now... Fingers crossed it should be live next week.
Rucuss54   June 20, 2013 07:31 AM
The Yamaha is heavy for a 600 and the dyno chart says it all, gutless. Both Pridmore and Zemke prefer the ZX636 for racing, Pros pick the ZX636 and the slower riders favor bikes with no TC? Biased?
Griffin Crew   June 19, 2013 09:28 PM
Bike weight is a tough one. I agree with filling up the tank and measuring as you get them, but please compensate for the actual fuel capacity @ 6+ pounds per gallon. No need to penalize bikes with larger fuel tanks which are great for street riding. P.S. Are the tool kits on your bikes?
fivespeed302   June 19, 2013 09:06 PM
0-60, 0-100, 0-150 times, 1/4 mile times, 60-0, top speed, etc. are all missing. What's up with that?
MotoFreak   June 19, 2013 04:47 PM
Great idea Anthony ! What about it MotoUSA????
AnthonyD   June 19, 2013 12:29 PM
You guys should really hold a contest where one of your loyal readership gets an invite to be a test rider at a shoot out. I would shell out the travel money if I won!
MCUSA Bart   June 19, 2013 09:04 AM
Every shootout has favored Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki? What about all the shootouts where bikes other than Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki win? Our test riders don't care about where ad money comes from, and neither do our editors. If we really did, there wouldn't even be shootouts, because they make one manufacturer happy and the rest disappointed. JohnnyM, the weight discrepancy is a good question. We could use the weights listed on the spec sheet - instead we fill the bikes up, roll them on the scales and report the measured real-world curb weight. Years ago OEM claims for curb/dry weight used to be, shall we say, optimistic. They are far more accurate now, perhaps in part because magazines like MotoUSA started to independently measure them. In some cases now we actually observe lighter weights than the spec claims, in some cases more. The Ducati we tested is the 848 EVO SE, which claims 429.9 pound wet weight. But in the small print Ducati defines wet/curb weight as "total bike weight with all operating consumable liquids and a fuel tank filled to 90% of capacity." That 10% half-gallon difference could be easily be a couple pounds. Ducati also claims a dry weight of 368.2 pounds, but that's without battery, lubricants or engine coolant. The objective of these shootouts is to provide our readers with information. And hopefully entertain them with a well-written story. We get the bikes, we ride em, then we publish our opinions. We put the results out there for everyone to scrutinize. It's as simple as that.
cggunnersmate   June 19, 2013 07:48 AM
We can go all day about some of the bikes' larger displacement should make them inelligible and in some cases I agree. In terms of the GSX-R 750 and the 636cc ZX-6R, I agree as they both have I4 engines and compared to the 600cc I4's they are over dogs.

But with the 675 Triples and the 848 Twin, that's where the waters get muddy.

Generally to get more horsepower you have to either increase RPMs or increase displacement. When you have fewer larger pistons, you can't reach the same RPMs as the smaller 4 cylinder bikes, so to make comparable HP you need to increase displacement. I say this know that the 675's and 848 make way more the comparable HP to the 600 I4's. Though if the Japanese manufacturers really turned up the R&D, I'm sure they could have their 600's putting our similar HP to the 675's. (If BMW can make it's 1000cc I4 put out 20+ more HP than any of the Japanese liter bikes). They just don't want to spend the money of if racing results are any indication, they don't really need to yet anyway.

Though in racing there are rules to maintain parity. Usually the larger displacement bikes are allowed fewer mods or slapped with weight penalties etc. And it works as evidence by the continued dominance of the 600cc I4s, namely the long in the tooth R6 (World Supersport/AMA DSB). The Triumphs aren't competitive yet in AMA and nowhere in WSS (MV managed their first Podium in WSS recently).

But for real world riding, the broader spread of power of the Daytona, 636 ZX and the Gixxer 750's make them more useable road bikes. MV's power is too far up the rev range really, and the Duc is well a Duc. They don't really have the ergos for an everyday street bike.
neo1piv014   June 19, 2013 07:26 AM
@ssalmons it does seems weird that the Japanese bikes are all sort of lumped together in their own class so that the 636 is the only "cheater" in the group. @filioque European bikes are, by and large, significantly more expensive than their Japanese counterparts, so I'm sure that factors heavily into the Subjective categories. If you're paying thousands more for a bike, you're going to expect it to feel like it's that much higher quality. Even if they are just as comfortable, good looking, etc, the fact that they usually cost more would make them slip in the subjective ratings.
ssalmons   June 19, 2013 05:55 AM
I like that on the Kawasaki page you have a con as "had to add displacement to get back on top" but your top 3 picks are the 636, 675, and 750. One could argue that these bikes don't really belong in this comparison, because they don't fit in the same racing classes. Contratulations to the real winner, Yamaha, for having the best 600cc sportbike!
12345   June 18, 2013 07:26 PM
filioque: The Rider subjective ratings are extremely biased, and hold too much weight. Every shootout i have read on your website is favors Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki products. I guess this is where the money comes from . except that the Triumph got higher subjective scores than the Honda and the Yamaha, and bested the Kawasaki in several categories as well.
filioque   June 18, 2013 01:42 PM
The Rider subjective ratings are extremely biased, and hold too much weight. Every shootout i have read on your website is favors Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki products. I guess this is where the money comes from .
JohnnyM   June 18, 2013 12:29 PM
What accounts for the weight differences than what the manufacturers list on their websites? Daytona listed at 405 (wet) and your scales have 422. CBR listed at 410 (wet) and your scales have 415 Yamaha has 417 (wet) and you guys have 428 Suzuki has 750 (wet) at 419 and you guys have 425 Suzuki has the 600 at 412 (wet) and you guys have 417. Ducati has 428 (wet) your weight 433 Kawasaki has 423.4 (wet) and yours is 421
MotoFreak   June 17, 2013 04:40 PM
Zemke you are the man ! Your one of my favorite AMA riders of all time. Great to see you with Motorcycle-USA ! Good Luck, hope to see you racing !