Kawasaki’s all-new ZX-6R is making a big push for the 600. Is it good enough to kick the others into touch? We rode all five to Holland and back to find out...
It would seem that Andy and myself are quite keen on pulling wheelies. In Holland, where the roads are mostly long and straight, it’s the only respite we get. Sadly, the GSX-R doesn’t really want to play. The GSX-R’s reluctance to ping one up off the clutch in anything other than first gear is symptomatic of its lack of midrange grunt and the extra weight the Suzuki carries.
Along with its resistance to indulge in the irrefutably irresponsible act of riding along on one wheel, the GSX-R keeps its rider out of trouble in many other ways, too. The chassis is ultra-stable at speed and, even ridden aggressively over the bumps and lumps that make up the back section of Bruntingthorpe’s test circuit, the GSX-R never once tested its steering damper or threatened to run wide as the solid but supple front end dealt with the rippled surface, kept the front tyre’s relationship with the tarmac sweet and held its line perfectly.
Compared to any of the others the GSX-R is something of a barge to get turned, and through tight hairpin turns and chicanes will always lose out to the more modern competition. Just ask our new mate, Barry Veneman.
But if you’re not a world class racer, you’re looking for something of a bargain, you don’t need a bike that comes with bragging rights as standard, you ride mostly on the roads, you don’t give a toss about lap times and you have similar tastes to James Whitham, then the GSXR600 won’t leave you feeling disappointed. Just so long as you don’t get a go on any of the other four, that is.
The Suzuki is a bike that takes no getting used to. From the moment you set off, it delivers good feedback making you feel safe and secure at any speed. It does everything well but at the same time doesn’t really excel when it comes to looks or performance. The GSX-R600 seems to have also lost its edge in racing this year but in this fast-changing market sector I’m sure that could easily turn around in 2010.
The Suzuki is the best-looking bike of the lot. And I reckon the generous riding position and good wind protection would make it the easiest to own if you did a lot of miles or used it to commute.
The motor is free-revving and has a lovely induction roar. It did feel as though it was lacking some grunt compared to the others though, which surprised me, because torque was always the GSX-R’s middle name.
It’s a stable bike but not as quick on the steering as the Honda, Triumph, and especially the agile Yamaha.
Fastest GSX-R600 Rider in the World - Barry Veneman
“The Suzuki is a great bike to ride. But it’s also a little bit behind the others – they have developed their bikes further over the last two years where the Suzuki has stood still a little bit. The biggest problem we have is that the bike is heavy and we can’t get it down to the minimum weight. It also makes less power. It’s great through high-speed corners though, and it’s very stable, with a great bottom-end. Where we lose out is in tight corners because of the weight, and at the top-end because of the power.”
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