First Ride: 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600

Can Suzuki revitalize the competitive supersport category with the all-new GSX-R600? Mark Forsyth does some laps of Almeria to find out

Posted: 17 December 2010
by Mark Forsyth
Yep, that's December the 15th. Sunshine. No snow. Let's all move to Almeria...
John Reynolds leads the way on to the long back straight. JR did a lot of the development riding for this new model.

Well, the fug of excitement has now lifted. The sweaty leathers are packed away in the kit bag and I’m just about to have a shower and grab some grub. I’ve done five, twenty minute sessions on the 2011 GSX-R600 and this is my verdict.

600s aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure. They thrive on revs and have to be caned mercilessly (compared to a 1000cc sports bike) to get the best out of them – to extract that last drop of performance. Personally, for track use, I’d take a 600 anyday; there’s just something immensely satisfying about chasing those extra three, four, five hundred revs and making sure your corner entry speed is every km fast enough. And how nice a feeling is it to feel the throttle cables stretched to the max through every gear as a corner opens up?

Where a 1000 is doing everything it can to flip you like a cheese omelette, 600s are so much more forgiving and on a tight, flowing track like Almeria, every bit as fast. And let’s be honest, with modern 600s putting out the sort of power  that would have humbled a litre bike of fifteen or twenty years ago. Isn’t that fast enough for you?

Let’s forget about the engine for a moment. The bulk of Suzuki’s development work has centred around the chassis side of things and making sure that weight is pared to the bone and what weight there is, is in the right place to achieve  that tricky combination of handling balance. Personally I don’t care if the exhaust system is made from .2mm thinner wall tubing. I don’t care if the headlight is .4grammes lighter than its predecessor. All I want to know is does it all work any better.

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Discuss this story

anybody who may want one of these is hibernating at the moment. try in the spring when they are more active . i.e. fair weather.

Posted: 21/12/2010 at 19:15

This kind of bike is going to be increasingly irrelavent. As a lifelong biker I'm looking at going down to something cheap to run ,todays sportsbikes e.t.c. are wonderful things but as a means of transport they cost far too much for me to be able to justify buying one.Car owners look at me in amazement when I tell them how much I spend on tyres that last a few months and servicing every 4000 miles.Apart from the cost they're getting more and more "focussed" and are actually unpleasant to ride most of the time.....and mine's been sitting in a snowed in driveway for the last month while I blag lifts to work from car driving workmates.I love bikes,been riding for over 30 years,all year round rider apart from extreme conditions e.t.c. but I'm beginning to wonder if it makes sense any more.Not much new out there that's actually much use to me and hearing tales of dealers offering 50% trade in on a 3 month old V Strom e.t.c. has me thinking that the bike industry in this country barely deserves to survive.

Good chance for the Chinese to sneak in the same way the Japs did,get the build quality together and offer cheap bikes with good spares back up and they're there for the taking,Japs are showing the same arrogance and lack of understanding of what people want as the Brits did in the 70's.Why does the CBF 125 cost double the cost of the similar bike sold in India despite coming from the same factory? They're taking the piss and don't to sell anything.

That Gixxer is no doubt a wonderful thing....but what actual use is it to 90% of riders?

Posted: 22/12/2010 at 12:26

i agree with the first part moko, but i would never buy a chinese bike. i have ridden a chinese bike before and they are death traps, poor build quality mixed with cheap materials means that they are disposable items, just like every other bloody thing today.

the japs are heading in the disposable direction, i have a bike from when bikes were still built properly and i bet that will well outlast one of the new japanese creations, because bikes and other things were built to last back in the day (lol) but unfortunately like everything else in the world, people are focussing on money making as opposed to the customers. this means that bikes are designed and built to sell, not to last. its a shame and i am thankful that there are a few bike manufacturers who arent going down this road. 


Posted: 22/12/2010 at 15:38

Srad man sam, what a load of cobblers. It's always been about money. Business is not, as a rule, a philanthropic passtime. As for build quality, I think you are wrong here. I'm sure that my 2008 GSXR750 will still be around in twenty years time even if I'll be too old and stiff to ride it by then.

And moko, c,mon mate, you can use a modern sportsbikes for just about anything (well, maybe nor moto cross or trials) and they are a whole lot better than the wobbly crates I grew up with in the 70s and 80s.

And neville, although I use my bike 12 months of the year, it doesn't qua;ify to look down on fair weather riders - some people just don't like the wet and the cold.

Rant, rant, etc etc 

Posted: 23/12/2010 at 16:32

I agree with Jimlin, The bike manufacturers are doing everything to try and win new customers, BMW built IL4 racebikes, Honda built the Fury chopper, Triumph are building GS wannabees what more do you want! I have a K6 Gixxer thou at the mo and unless they start fitting studded ice tyres I am not going anywhere near the bloody roads, not too good in a 4 wheeled cage never mind a 170bhp superbike   

I hope Suzuki havent gone too Focussed with the 6, it used to be quite useable on the roads with a decent midrange (well as decent as a 600 sports could be) think i will stick to the thou though. 

Posted: 24/12/2010 at 17:58

Well for me it was so nice and very excitement when i ride a bike like suzuki but we need to but we must be careful to avoid driving a motorcycle accident and the events that we do not expect.Thank you for sharing this very interesting blog!!!

Posted: 27/12/2010 at 16:02

I hope its well focused.. Can't wait to watch the Wee Wizard throwing it around the BSB Circuits which is what it's designed for.. Bikes like this are very seldom used to their full potential on the road .. The vast majority of people on here are dreaming if they think they're capable of taking last years bike to its limits nevermind this one.. Seeley put last years bike round the Northwest 200 at 119 mph in the damp on public roads with nothing coming the other way.. He beat Dunlop, Dunlop, McGuiness, Fahrquar etc etc.. So why do you guys perpetuate this myth that you can get the most out of it without all the advantages Seeley has?? You want one coz they look nice and go fast but even the journalist doing the test (who rides for a living) would get trampled all over if even a half decent supersports racer threw his leg over the same bike.. In short get real.. Nobody on here will come close to using this bike within 75% of its capabilties.. If you want one buy one but cut the fookin crap please!!  

Posted: 02/01/2011 at 19:07

I think there's more choice out there than ever before. Those who want cheap can buy cheap (kymco etc)  and those with more cash can indulge themselves.

The all -round package is better- better ride, better quality, better safety aides. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Sports bikes SHOULD be more focussed, their DNA demands it. the new CBR600F and the Kawaka 1000sx? offer something else for those who want less focussed.

Posted: 02/01/2011 at 21:01

There's no such thing as a bad bike out there any more, just the wrong one for you. It's been twenty years since I rode a truly dreadful brand new bike.

Posted: 05/01/2011 at 15:28

Wow!!! yahoo!!! go for it!!! I feel the excitement in that event and i was so shock,afraid,amazed  by the picture shows how the rider forms there rotten  and I'm sure that the audience cannot express there true feelings in that very moment because it so nerving to see. 

Posted: 09/01/2011 at 11:26

I wouldn't turn away from sportsbikes but I agree they are becoming less useful to the normal road rider and far too track orientated.  My answer is to not bother with the new stuff but stick to mid-90s models.  IMO they have the perfect balance of excellent performance plus road usability.  And you can pick them up relatively cheap.  I mean, are you really telling me that the average rider needs more than a 90s GSXR 750, ZXR750 etc. has to offer.  Are they so slow / have such poor handling / brakes etc. that your average Joe Bloggs is too good for them?  A ZXR 400 would give most 750s a run for their money on anything other than an autobahn back in the day and nothing much has changed since.

90s sportsbikes - way to go.

Posted: 10/01/2011 at 23:49

I bought mine last year in July and have not regretted it for a minute.
Mine is a daily commuter,weekend warrior,track day tool when I want it to be( living 10 minutes from Knockhill is an advantage).Its comfortable enough to ride most distances although I agree it is not a tourer.
Because its a sportsbike it does not mean it is compulsory to ride like a loony all the time.The throttle works in 2 directions.
Servicing I do myself after the first service was done at the dealer.It goes to the dealer for jobs I can not do myself.
It is not only sportsbikes it is most bikes that can not be ridden to there potential(legal or illegaly) on the road.But then how many cars can be driven(legally or illegally) to there potential on the road.Bike Race Guru talks a lot of sense.

Posted: 07/04/2012 at 18:41

I would actually like to make the argument that the better sixers get, the less sense it makes to own a thousand. I have the 2008 model and coming from a ninja 250 it is an absolutely amazing bike and I love and ride the crap out of it, sure is a blast, insurance is much cheaper and its a joy on track. It looks mean, sounds mean, rides comfortable, turns heads and is utterly reliable. Sure sportsbikes service at 4000 miles but so did the little ninja, and we all know the performance makes it worth it. Nothing more I could ask from any bike.

Posted: 16/05/2013 at 12:18

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