Top 10s

Top 10 600cc Supersport bikes

Visordown presents the Top 10 secondhand supersport bikes

The revvy little 600's are known for their no frills fun and with good reason, they're proper quick at an affordable price. We look at some of the big secondhand sellers.

Sports 600 buying advice:

  • These bikes are big sellers so there’s a colossal amount of choice when buying used.  Don’t buy the first bike you see, no matter how tempting. There’ll be plenty more if you miss that one and probably cleaner machines or better deals.
  • Do your homework. Sporty 600s tend to get updated every two years and these can make substantial differences. Be wary of older bikes registered on later plates.
  • Rough ‘uns. Plenty of these will have seen track or even race use, have been crashed, stolen, neglected or covered big miles. It’s almost always worth paying a bit more for a really nice example and as they’re so common finding one shouldn’t be difficult.
  • Do a data check. www.mycarcheck.com do a comprehensive check for a bargain £3.95 which lets you know if a bike’s been written off, stolen, has outstanding finance and more.
  • Use the lingo. Words like ‘clean’, ‘honest’ and ‘straight’ will make salesmen think you’re more clued up than ‘shiny’, ‘not bodged’ or ‘not crashed’. You CAN bullshit a bullshitter!

Tuning tips:

  • Lower gearing. Fit two different sprockets – one tooth larger at the rear, one smaller at the front and gain acceleration / wheelie ability at the loss of a little top end. Most will need a gizmo to correct the speedo. 
  • Suspension re-work. Forks should have new oil every two years and fork springs every four. Most original shocks are well past their best by 20,000 miles. £500 or so should get you a new shock plus the front end overhauled by a pro. It’s not cheap but it’ll transform the bike.  
  • The right tyres. Old or worn tyres ruin handling. Get a new set of sporty road or even sports touring rubber and your bike will feel great. Only go for the stickier options if you’re going to do a lot of track days.
  • Full exhaust? A complete system is not cheap (reckon £600++) and you’ll probably need a Power Commander and possibly a custom map too so don’t reckon on much change from a grand. It’s a lot of dosh for not much more go and barely worth it unless you’re a perfectionist. Fit and end can for a quarter the price if you want more noise.

Owned a 600? Disagree with our top 10? Then leave a comment below.

10. Suzuki GSX-R600 (2001+)

10. Suzuki GSX-R600 (2001+)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, injected, four
Power: 112bhp
Torque: 51 lb/ft
Weight: 163kg
Top Speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £4,999 • £3,200 • £2,300

The GSX-R has become the sensible choice in the class. Considering the first Gixers were track inspired tearaways, these latest machines are quite practical. Yes, they’re still rapid, corner and brake like something out of Tron but compared to the hard core rivals like Kawasaki’s ZX-6R, Yamaha’s R6 and even Honda’s 600RR, the Suzuki’s spacious, comfy and upright. In a crowded market sector, that’s a good reason to choose Suzuki. The updated 2004/’05 model is an aesthetic high point, more tweaks for 2006 saw mid mounted exhaust and improvements all round. The latest 2008 onwards examples are the best but be wary of ex-GSX-R Cup race bikes.

Click here to read Suzuki GSX R600 owner reviews. 

Click next for no. 9

09. Suzuki GSX-R600 (1997-2000)

09. Suzuki GSX-R600 (1997-2000)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, carb’d four
Power: 110bhp
Torque: 50 lb/ft
Weight: 174kg
Top speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ???
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £2,250 • £1,600 • £1,200

The original Gixer six (in the UK) is a classic example of the breed. It’s a revvy, light, lairy pugilist of a machine. It’s not comfy, easy to ride slowly and being carb-fed can ice in winter. But while it can get a little slappy if really provoked it’s a bike that’s all about the corners and going hard on the gas and brakes between.
For an ageing loony tune, reliability’s pretty impressive with, once again, most problems coming from abuse and neglect rather than inherent faults.
November 1997 onwards bikes got engine tweaks for more midrange power and a lower screen. Don’t fear imports.

Click here to read Suzuki GSX R600 owner reviews.

Click next for no. 8

08. Honda CBR600F (1999-2005)

08. Honda CBR600F (1999-2005)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, carb’d/injected, four
Power: 110bhp
Torque: 48 lb/ft
Weight: 168kg
Top speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £4,000 • £2,800 • £2,000

Want 90% of the latest, hot 600s sports ability but a more practical all round bike? The old ‘F’ CBR is the best choice. It was Honda’s hot 600 until the RR version took over and was competitive on the road and track. It still is but it’s a much more comfortable, useable everyday bike too. ‘Sport’ model (2001-’03) is slightly less functional but looks better due to stepped seat. Regulator / rectifiers and cam chain tensioners can cause problems but they’re not common and easily fixed. 1999/’00 bikes had carbs rather than injection and the latest examples lost the front suspension adjustment. A classic and easy to live with.

Click here to read Honda CBR600F owner reviews.

Click next for no. 7

07. YZF-R6 (1999-2005)

07. Yamaha YZF-R6 (1999-2005)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, carb’d/ injected, four
Power: 120bhp
Torque: 50 lb/ft
Weight: 168kg
Top speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £4,250 • £3,300 • £2,100

Another dark horse. Yes, it ticks all the fast and lairy boxes, it’s even popular in hip hop circles. But it’s actually quite practical too with a spacious riding position and a smooth engine with useable midrange. All models can shake their bars without too much provocation so a steering damper’s a wise extra. Updated for 2001 with minor tweaks, most obviously LED rear lights. 2003 saw a major update including an all new frame and much more and probably represents the best of these models. 2005 machines got USD forks and radially-mounted brakes. A tiny minority have clutch, gearbox and engine problems but most are problem free.

Click here to read Yamaha YZF-R6 owner reviews.

Click next for no. 6

06. Kawasaki ZX-6R (2003+)

06. Kawasaki ZX-6R (2003+)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, injected, four
Power: 125bhp
Torque: 49 lb/ft
Weight: 161kg
Top speed: 165mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ?????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £6,000 • £4,350 • £2,900

A classic Kawasaki; seriously focussed and not for newbies. These are harder, sharper machines aimed at getting skilled riders round racetracks fast. They’ve got more personality than most Japanese bikes too with gruff engines and lively handling. The B suffix models (2003-’04) were updated into the slicker faster, if not quite so involving, C bikes (2005-06). The P machines (2007-’08) went back down to 599cc from 636cc and lost midrange power as a result. We’ve heard a few horror stories about major problems on P series models but on the whole they’re reliable machines and abuse will be the main cause for concern when buying used.

Click here to read Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja owner reviews.

Click next for no. 5

05. Triumph Daytona 600/650

05. Triumph Daytona 600/650 (2003-2005)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, fuel-injected, four
Power: 112bhp
Torque: 50 lb/ft
Weight: 165kg
Top speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £4,250 • £3,500 • £3,000

Superb handling and brakes on the track or road. The earlier 600cc model was slightly underpowered compared to rivals but the 650cc version with revised injection’s better. The upright riding position’s comfy too plus being physically larger than much of the competition means it fits larger lads. The gearbox is a little clunky and the screen’s very low but otherwise it’s hard to fault. Reliability is pretty good but be wary of any bike which doesn’t run correctly – getting the set up spot on can be awkward. Also bear in mind Union Jack paint isn’t to everyone’s taste and clean, used plastics are rare.

Click here to read Triumph Daytona 600/450 owner reviews.

Click next for no. 4

04. Ducati 749 (2003-2007)

04. Ducati 749 (2003-2007)

Engine: 748cc, 8-valve, fuel-injected, v-twin
Power: 103bhp
Torque: 57 lb/ft
Weight: 199kg
Top speed: 150mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ??? Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £7,000 • £4,500 • £3,500

Not really a 600 but it squeezes into the category as it’s only got two cylinders so is forgiven the larger engine. The chassis is pure Ducati which means it loves to lean. The steering’s slow but stunning mid corner stability will change the way you ride forever. Looks are debatable (which keeps prices low-ish), the engine’s slightly underwhelming compared to the latest Japanese 600 and running costs are high including pricy servicing. Electrical gremlins like failing relays aren’t uncommon and some models tick over poorly. ‘Dark’ model is the budget choice, ‘S’ is posher and ‘R’ is the range topper.
All were usefully updated for 2005.

Click here to read Ducati 749 reviews.

Click next for no. 3

03. Kawasaki ZX-6R (1998-2002)

03. Kawasaki ZX-6R (1998-2002)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, carb’d, four
Power: 111bhp
Torque: 48 lb/ft
Weight: 171kg
Top speed: 150mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £2,800 • £2,000 • £1,450

These older 600 Ninjas are far less track focussed than the later versions and that makes them much better road bikes. The early G models are great although most are knackered now. The 2000/2001 J1 and J2 models are pretty similar but with a more protective fairing and improved headlights. The 636cc A1P model of 2002 is the final and best incarnation before the model went bonkers for ’03. There’s the odd report of gearbox failures but they’re very rare. Likewise cam-chain tensioner issues but that’s much cheaper to fix anyway. The finish can be patchy and most problems will be down to skint owners, neglect, crash or theft damage.

Click here to read Kawasaki ZX-6R owner reviews.

Click next for no. 2

02. Yamaha YZF-R6 (2006+)

02. Yamaha YZF-R6 (2006+)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, fuel-injected, four
Power: 127bhp
Torque: 49 lb/ft
Weight: 161kg
Top speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ?????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £6,200 • £5,400 • £4,500

As sharp and purposeful as a £100 kitchen knife. Yamaha opted to take the R6 down the hard core track bike route for 2006. It’s a blinding ride when conditions are right and the rider’s up for it but it’s not a relaxing machine or ideal for low speed work. Super revvy engine and top quality suspension but the standard set up’s very firm, making it a handful on wet roads. The bike was updated for 2008 and although it looks similar, it’s got some useful mods including engine teaks for more midrange power which makes it easier to day to day use.

Click here to read Yamaha YZF-R6 owner reviews.

Click next for no. 1

01. Honda CBR600RR (2003+)

01. Honda CBR600RR (2003+)

Engine: 599cc, 16-valve, fuel-injected, four
Power: 117bhp
Torque: 49 lb/ft
Weight: 164kg
Top speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ?????
Used prices (highest, average, lowest): £5,700 • £4,200 • £2,600

Few machines feel as good mid-corner as Honda’s double-R CBR600. The Honda’s serene aura raises anyone’s riding ability plus it’s an easy machine to get on and use hard. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and the engine lacks midrange but when it leans so sweet, who cares? Usefully updated for 2005 and again in 2007 with more midrange power although the sharper chassis doesn’t feel quite so calming. Updated again for 2009 with optional linked ABS brakes. Reliable but check early bikes for warping rear discs and camchain noise. Battery life can be short as it’s so small.

Click here to read Honda CBR600RR owner reviews.

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