THROUGHOUT the 1990s and much of the 2000s the supersports 600 market was the hardest-fought arena in motorcycling. In the UK alone customers came by their thousands every year for each of the top-sellers and there seemed no end to the demand for these increasingly-capable middleweights.
And then it stopped. Almost overnight a combination of changing economic conditions saw Japanese bike prices jump massively, taking a new 600 from around £7,000 in 2007 to £9,000 or more, while shifting fashions took riders away from race-replicas.
As a result, manufacturers simply stopped updating their supersports machines.Yamaha finally brought us a new YZF-R6 this year to meet the latest emmision limits. Otherwise many 600s in showrooms haven't improved much in a decade and can only be sold until exisitng stocks run out, for up to a maximum of two years.
Then they're gone, just like two-strokes, once a right of passage, now sought-after classics.
So maybe now's the time to pick up a good second-hand one, while there are still huge numbers of well-kept examples on the road.
Building a definitive list of the ‘best’ 600cc supersports bikes is virtually impossible such is the range of prices, specs and ages available. The best advice overall is to establish a budget and then look at (and where possible test) as many different options as you can; small differences in riding position and feel mean that what suits you might be quite different to the bike that’s best for the next chap.
Even so, here’s our reverse-order take on the 10 best used supersports machines out there.
10. Ducati 748/749
It might not be a 600 but it still resides in the supersport class. While its V-twins have always been bigger-capacity than rival four-cylinder machines, with the advent of the 848, Ducati really left the supersports market for good, confirming the decision with 899 Panigale and the new 959, which now has performance more in line with 1000cc superbikes. So we’re sticking to the last of its 750cc (or thereabouts) machines, the 748 and 749. Both are easily found in the £3,000-£5,000 range. The 748’s styling is impossible to ignore, and it’s a sure future classic, while the 749 is divisive in appearance but offers notable chassis improvements. Neither will have the performance of a more modern machine, and you’ve got to factor in higher running costs than a Japanese 600, but depreciation should be minimal now and there’s an intangible feel-good factor to riding something ‘exotic’ for half the price of a new Japanese 600.