First Ride: 2006 Suzuki GSR 600

Launch report written by freelance journo Bertie Simmonds

Underneath the surface of the new Suzuki GSR hides something a little nastier and more fun than just "another naked middleweight".

It's also a little more than simply a Yamaha FZ6/Honda Hornet clone or a production version of Suzuki's own B-King concept bike.

Not quite a B-King ... but better than a Bandit

Y'see, by day the GSR is a well-mannered gent around town, content to amble about in the first half of the rev-counter, giving a gentle doff of his titfer to the ladies as they pass by.

But the Suzuki GSR has the heart from the GSX-R600, which makes him a bit of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde kinda guy. So from midnight on the tacho - around 10,500rpm - is where Mr Hyde comes out to play, bursting towards a guessed peak power of around 90bhp at about 12,500rpm from my trusted dyno-arse.* If this all sounds fun, it is. Bloody good fun, but unfortunately, this Mr Hyde does have a problem.

He strains at the leash in corners, meaning that if you're not on the perfect throttle openings, you'll suffer a disconcerting lurch backwards or forwards, depending on whether the throttle is being opened or closed. This is made all the more stranger as the GSX-R600 itself is normally as slippery-smooth as an oiled codpiece.

The fun really starts at 10,500rpm...

The GSR's changes include different (lower) gearing to take advantage of smaller (38mm rather than the 46mm) throttle bodies compared to the 2004-05 GSX-R600, so maybe here is where the blame lies? Either way, it's not enough to turn you off the bike, it just annoys.

Handling is pretty good too, benefiting from being a little more adjustable than most nakeds, with the front forks having preload adjustment and the rear Kayaba shock being adjustable for rebound and preload. Brakes are the same as the 'old' GSX-R750 of 2000-2003 vintage, which means that they work well enough, even if they're not eye-bulgingly brilliant.For the practical among you, the clocks boast an LCD fuel gauge, two trips, a clock a splendid gear indicator and digital speedo. Sadly, strapping shite to the pillion seat could well scratch the paintwork, as even after removing the seat, I couldn't see any bungee points hidden away.

Twisted thinking ... great potential for modification

But it's the looks that will make this bike a winner to the budding Streetfighter owner. This, like the Hornet before it, is attractive enough as standard, but better still, is a blank canvas for the middle-weight motorcycle modifier. Check out the myriad of Hornets out there on the streets with single-sided swingers, paint-jobs, tuned motors, trick suspension and you'll know what I'm getting at.

Now think of the Suzuki GSR with a decent paint job (sadly the UK are only getting satin black and blue, not red), upside down front forks, radial brakes, GSX-R throttle bodies, loud under-seat exhausts... the list goes on.

Getting it over ... and crying out for upside down forks

Suzuki GB will sell the GSR alongside that old perennial fave the Bandit for the foreseeable future. They also haven't released an on-the-road price yet for the bike, but they better pick the right one if they want to sell lots of these. If it's around the same as the Hornet, (5199) it'll be just the right side of a bargain.

*Suzuki has yet to announce any power figures for the bike.

Vital statistics

Suzuki GSR600

From: Suzuki GB: 0845 850 8800

Engine: 599.4cc, four-stroke, fuel-injected inline four

Power: 90bhp @ 12,500rpm (estimated)

Torque: 50lb ft @ 10,000rpm (estimated)

Fuel: Average of 39mpg or around 110 miles before reserve

Performance: 0-60mph: 4sec (estimated)

Top Speed: 140mph approx

Price: TBA but 4900-5300 estimated

Verdict: A good looking, high-performing naked-middleweight class-clown that could well take the class crown