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Road Test: 2004 600cc sportsbike review

Take the best 600 sportsbikes in the world to a circuit for three days, put them on identical tyres, add thirteen journalists from ten different countries and you have the most comprehensive test ever




The Supertest began as an idea last year between Spanish magazines Solo Moto and el Periodico, Portuguese mag Motojornal, Italian magazine La Moto and Two Wheels Only. The idea of the test was to put all of the very best sportsbikes head-to-head on track in one huge, comprehensive test to find out which was the best according to several different criteria. In order to stop arguments, the bikes were all lap timed.

Now in its second year, the Supertest has become even more comprehensive. Every bike tested was supplied by the relevant manufacturer and came complete with a factory representative and technical support to ensure that it was performing to its absolute peak against the competition.

The original test team of just five magazines has expanded to include twelve publications from ten different countries all over the world. Riders involved include world class racers such as James Whitham and Olivier Jacque, national champions, race school instructors and journalists whose job it is to ride and rate every new bike launched each year.

For the 2004 Supertest, the bikes were taken to the challenging Almeria circuit in Spain, used by all of the British Superbike teams for testing, as it has a perfect combination of tight and twisty sections as well as a very fast straight to test all of a bike's performance. It's also one of the driest areas of Spain, so conditions are consistent for all three days.

Every bike was fitted with Michelin's brand new Pilot Power tyre to take out the inconsistency of varying original equipment tyres, and to give the riders the grip required to push the bikes hard enough to really sort out the winners from the losers.

The bikes were split into two categories - 1000s and 600s - and every rider filled in a form rating each bike in order, from best to worst, on five different criteria:

Motor - how well the engine performed

Comfort - how comfortable the bike was

Chassis - how the bike handled

Price - the cheapest bike in each country got the top score, the most expensive the worst

Equipment - what you get for your money, e.g. …hlins suspension, lap timer, rev light etc.

The number of coloured panels next to each criteria shows you where that bike placed in relation to the competition for that area of its performance.

The results were then put together and a 1000 and 600 winner decided - find out who tops the lists here...

DUCATI 749S

Price £9600

Power 105bhp

Weight 192kg

Comfort 1/7

Chassis 3/7

Motor 2/7

Equipment 4/7

Price 1/7

Final ranking 1/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

Like its big brother, the 749S doesn't feel that fast, but it is beautifully balanced. The brakes are really good, despite not being radial, and the lazy nature of the V-twin is relaxing after the screaming rev-happiness of the inline 600s. Handling is like the 999's; point it at the apex and it just hits it, no effort and very balanced. It feels heavier than the feather-light Japanese fours and takes a bit more effort to turn in, but this is just a Ducati trait and the 999 feels very similar. Would I want a 749S? To be truthful probably not; I reckon that the inline fours are much more fun to ride. I like to scream an engine and feel like I'm riding a bike, which is something you simply don't do on a Ducati.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

Should the Ducati be compared to a 600? I'm not sure. If you want a Duke, the 749S is a very good bike with very balanced and planted handling, excellent brakes and a beautiful motor, but it isn't a 600 and costs several thousands more. Given the choice, I would always go for an inline four.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

If your pocket's deep enough, this is the bike. The lack of power is made up for by its impressive chassis and cycle parts, which let you ride as fast as its rivals but with less effort.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

The little Duke doesn't impress me, neither for power nor agility. The gearchange is a little imprecise. The brakes are very effective and its angle of lean is surprising.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

Very stable in corners, it gives a lot of confidence. Contrary to the 999, you have to keep the engine spinning to maintain a good rhythm. It hasn't much power, but you don't have to fight it to go fast.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

The only twin in the category is a bike with a special character born for the track. Its chassis gives excellent stability and high corner speed. It brakes with authority.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

It's superprecise around the twists and turns of Almeria. You think where you want to go and you're there. The Ducati is not as agile as either the R6 or GSX-R600, but it is more precise.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

A really fun bike to ride, with the unmistakable feel of a Ducati. The rigid steel trellis chassis makes it both agile and stable in the fast corners.

Guim Roda, SoloMoto - Spain

HONDA CBR600RR

Price £7299

Power 107bhp

Weight 169kg

Comfort 4/7

Chassis 2/7

Motor 3/7

Equipment 5/7

Price 2/7

Final ranking 3/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

It's like a baby version of the Blade. The brakes are phenomenal - the best of any road bike I have ridden and prove that you don't really need those radial things, well not if you're Honda anyway. It doesn't really do anything spectacularly well, apart from brake, but does everything really well. Get an average rider and they will think it's ace, but I just can't seem to push it that hard. The engine is flat in the mid-range and has to be screamed to get it going - it's nowhere near as powerful as the R6, ZX-6Rs or GSX-R. Dare I say it, but to me it just feels a bit dull. I know it's a brilliant bike, but the other Japanese bikes just light my fire more. That doesn't seem to bother the WSS guys mind - they're flying on the CBR.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

I find the CBR the most confidence-inspiring bike around because the chassis is just so good. In typical Honda fashion, the CBR just seems to fit every rider and give them the confidence to go fast. The major problem with it is the lack of mid-range; it has to be above 8000rpm to get any kind of drive.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

This is a very agile supersport on which you move very naturally. It enjoys a good front end and impressive brakes but the engine could be better in low and mid-range.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

The most calm. It accepts inexperienced riders. I don't like the brakes; they don't have that final bite. Rear suspension is soft but the front is very good. The engine only wakes up at 11,000rpm .

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

It's a good sporty bike with an excellent riding position. It turns well in the corners and the only problem I can see are the brakes as you have to use force to make them work.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

The cycle parts and brakes are the best thing about the new CBR, as it is very small and easy to handle and position in a bend. The brakes are powerful, the engine is powerful but it only takes off at the end.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

It's a racing bike, very extreme, with an engine that is feels like it is missing something lower down the range - it needs to rev very high to get going. Aesthetically it isn't the prettiest.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

The CBR is very compact, very effective with a good balance between its engine and the chassis. It's easy to ride fast and brakes very well.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

KAWASAKI ZX-6R

Price £7200

Power 107bhp

Weight 161kg

Comfort 3/7

Chassis 5/7

Motor 7/7

Equipment 3/7

Price 6/7

Final ranking 5/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

It was a surprise riding this after the 600cc RR as the engines felt very similar, which means the RR must be really powerful or just very deceptively fast. Everything else on the two bikes felt the same, although the RR had a slightly better front end feel, which was probably a combination of the slipper clutch and the higher quality front suspension with its reduced friction coating. The handling is light and fast, the front end is excellent and the brakes are stunning. The only problem is the rev counter, which is impossible to read. It's the same on the ZX-6RR and ZX-10R; the digital display just doesn't catch the eye, which is a real pain in the arse when you're going for it. Sort it out Kawasaki!

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

The 636's extra 36ccs are almost impossible to spot as both the GSX-R and ZX-6RR have as strong mid-ranges. Like the ZX-6RR, the handling is excellent and the brakes are superb, but for some reason I always seemed to go faster on the RR. I'm not sure why, could be to do with the slipper clutch?

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

It has the best motor in the category, not only for its power, but for the way it delivers it, and it breathes like no other bike in the class in the mid-range. With a reasonably rigid chassis, its behaviour on the move is fairly radical.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

It's a real racebike. the engine has so much strength from low revs up to the highest. The brakes are impressive, gearchange precise and smooth.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

What I said for the RR goes for the R, although the former is more orientated toward racing. The ZX-6R is more sporting for the road and in my opinion has a better motor than the 600.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

With the same cycle parts, equipment and handling as the 6RR, the 636, with its greater capacity, responds better and more quickly in the low- and mid-range rpm.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

It's similar to the RR, but it has more thanks to the extra displacement which shows in the twisty parts of the circuit. It runs a little wide on the bends, but is very strong on track.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

Compared to other supersports bikes, this Kawa has a 36cc advantage and is much nicer for it. Out of hairpins it lets you drive more smoothly than the rest of the 600s. Otherwise same as its sister.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

KAWASAKI ZX-6RR


Price £7645

Power 104bhp

Weight 161kg

Comfort 2/7

Chassis 6/7

Motor 4/7

Equipment 6/7

Price 3/7

Final ranking 4/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

This feels like a typical 600; it's lovely. You really have to rev its tits off, especially after riding the 1000s all day, and it doesn't feel that quick, but who cares? It's great fun. The front end felt really good and the brakes are also very sharp, although the front was slightly soft when you really pushed it . The riding position suited me well: it's quite racy, which I like and it feels much more compact than the larger GSX-R600. The handling is really good; light and fast into a turn and also very stable when it's leant over. The howl from the airbox is mega and it encourages you to thrash it even harder - not that I needed much encouragement! The only problem is the rev counter, which is still impossible to read.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

The new internals for 2004 give the RR as much mid-range as the GSX-R and it has an even stronger top-end. The handling feels really light and it was the easiest of all the 600s to get from left to right through the chicane . The radial brakes are brilliant and the roar from the air-box is so intoxicating.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

With a sporting riding position, but not as extreme as the Honda, the Kawa has a strong and sensitive chassis, light, with good brakes. The engine has a good kick and the smooth gearchange makes you forget how the Kawasakis used to be.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

The same spirit as the 636 with less push in the midrange. Suspension is a bit harder than the 636 and less efficient. Total racing.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

It's a fun bike to ride. The gearbox is very good and the clutch very racy. The brakes are progressive and for a real race bike it is comfortable.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

If what you want is a pure competition bike, the 6RR is for you. It has everything: stability, radial brakes, good mobility, incredible response in the high revs. Whatever you do you can take it to the limit with confidence.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

The roadrider will only notice a small loss of midrange urge in comparison to the 636. Otherwise it's impeccable, with excellent brakes and agility.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

It has improved much with the engine modification. It's very precise and handles very well on this track. Its brakes are the best of the supersports, the most powerful and progressive. I liked it last year and I still like it this year.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

SUZUKI GSX-R600K4

Price £6849

Power 101bhp

Weight 161kg

Comfort 5/7

Chassis 4/7

Motor 5/7

Equipment 7/7

Price 7/7

Final ranking 7/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

The GSX-R's engine felt really raw and aggressive and made loads of noise, which was great, but I didn't think it was as powerful as the Kawasaki or the R6. All show and no go? Not really. Get it spinning and it will hold the bigger capacity ZX-6R, but it needs revs. The handling felt a bit lazy, but very safe. I never felt like I would fall down on it, which is a new feeling for me! It doesn't feel heavy, but it is physically bigger than the other 600s, which some riders will like. The brakes are as good as the Kawasaki's but not quite up to the Honda's mega stoppers. I really enjoyed riding the GSX-R600, but once you have ridden the GSX-R750, it never seems as good again. Shame.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

The GSX-R is everything I want in a 600. It's slightly larger than the others, which fits my six-foot frame better. The handling is brilliant and you can just charge into corners in total confidence because the feedback is so good. The brakes are as sharp as the ZX-6R's and it has that GSX-R raw character.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

Without doubt the new benchmark. The engine is explosive, it's superior to its rivals in most aspects, like the brakes, for example, which are similar to the Kawasaki's, but more progressive.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

It's very powerful and comfortable yet still extremely sporty. In fast corners, especially as you started to accelerate, the chassis begins to feel a little loose.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

It's a better sportsbike than the CBR with a riding position more suited to the track. Very powerful engine, the brakes are very good. The problem was that the suspension was too soft for the track.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

The Hamamatsu factory has built a very stable bike, light and fully equipped. Its engine and fuel injection respond with finesse and power and the chassis makes it quick and stable.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

For me it's the winner because it is the most stable, with much better brakes than before.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

For me it has been the surprise of the Supertest. It has a high seat and is comfortable and the engine and gearchange feel good, thanks to the fuel injection. But it is a demanding motorbike. You have to watch the rev counter to squeeze its maximum potential.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

TRIUMPH DAYTONA 600

Price £6399

Power 98bhp

Weight 165kg

Comfort 6/7

Chassis 1/7

Motor 1/7

Equipment 1/7

Price 4/7

Final verdict 2/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

Another surprise, I thought the Triumph would be well behind the Japanese, but it isn't. The handling is really good - very forgiving, but the suspension was a bit too soft to really push it. You can tell Triumph has saved money on the engine because it's as flat as hell in the mid-range and really needs to be revved. Also, the gearbox is a bit dodgy; I found a few false neutrals in there when down-shifting fast, which can be disconcerting. It doesn't feel anything like as slick as the Suzuki's. Overall, the Daytona is actually a surprisingly good package, but I reckon it's more of a road bike that can handle it on track than a track-focused bike that can go on the road like the Japanese 600s.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

It isn't as powerful or sharp handling as the Japanese 600s, but I really like the Daytona; it just has a reassuring feeling about it. The chassis is forgiving and it actually handles almost as well on track as the Japanese. Unfortunately, the gearbox hits false neutrals and it has no mid-range.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

It's pity that it's not very popular in Spain. It has little to envy of its rivals and it's much more comfortable. It's easy to handle and best for everyday use with possibilities for sport riding.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

I don't believe it is a real supersport, more a sports-tourer. In fast touring it can be effective, but has limits on the track in suspension and agility as well as the engine.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

Well in my humble opinion it's basically a streetbike, very comfortable. On the track brakes are adequate and the suspension is soft.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

Of all the supersports in the test, it's the least sporty. Its riding position is high, its engine doesn't develop big power. Despite this handicap it behaves with agility thanks to an excellent chassis and geometry, but it's a roadbike.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

You have to consider it was the only bike that arrived without mechanics to set it up, and as it is it isn't adequate for the track. This doesn't mean it's not a good bike for the street.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

A good sportsbike, less radical than its rivals and more comfortable on open roads. Very comfy riding position although the footrests don't seem right. Maybe it's too wide. It's not the ideal trackbike.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

YAMAHA YZF-R6

Price £7499

Power 106bhp

Weight 162kg

Comfort 7/7

Chassis 7/7

Motor 6/7

Equipment 1/7

Price 5/7

Final ranking 6/7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

I absolutely loved the R6, and I'm not just saying that because I used to race one. The Kawasaki felt more aggressive in the set up and when you first get on the R6 you think it's a bit touring, but the faster you go, the better it gets. The mid-range is dead strong, although the top end isn't as good as the Kawasaki, and the handling is spot on. The only thing that lets it down are the brakes, which are the worst of the 600s and need a real big squeeze to get any reaction. According to Jon, this R6 has a different sized front tyre to normal which improves the handling loads. I'm not sure about this, as I haven't ridden one on the smaller section tyre, but all I can say is this one worked really well.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

What a difference a change of front tyre makes. With the horrible 60-section front swapped for a 70-section, the R6 is transformed. It feels like a race bike; small, narrow and with quite high pegs and the handling backs this up. It turns in quickly and tightens its line mid-corner with no protest.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

It maintains its high standard. It hasn't got the best brakes, nor the best stability, but maybe it has one of the best engines. It's the one I like the most because it's the most stable of them all.

Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

The engine is not fantastic in low or mid range, the gearchange is a bit stiff; the chassis is good as well as the riding position. The front suspension doesn't give confidence.

Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

Jeffrey de Vries did an excellent job with the suspension. The R6 doesn't feel as nervous as before. Good engine performance. The brakes are OK. It's comfortable and has room to move around.

Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

It's the one that you can lean over the best thanks to its front end. It allows you to throw it into corners and maintain stability. The engine is very elastic and at high revs it's the best bike.

Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

It's a delicious bike with good cycle parts and well developed suspension by de Vries. You can do all kinds of things with it, but it's not the most stable one. It's very compact, but doesn't offer much protection.

Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

The R6 is still the most competitive. In Almeria we had a bike that was very well set up. Its rigidity is like a racebike. It's stable and quick.

Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

AND SO TO CONCLUDE...

Suzuki's new and improved for 2004 GSX-R600 wins the Supertest for the smaller capacity bikes, just ahead of Yamaha's R6 and Kawasaki's brace of ZX-6Rs. Like the 1000s, the break down where the various magazines placed the bikes in order from first to last (one to nine) is shown below with the overall result is then calculated from the individual categories.

The GSX-R managed to top the price and equipment rankings while sticking in the top four of all other categories, helping it scoop the win.

The surprise of the bunch is the R6, which was well out of contention when TWO tested the 600s at the start of the year. What's made the difference? The control tyre, that's what. The OE 60-section front was swapped for a more conventional 70-section, which vastly improves the handling. None of the testers complained about the feeling of the R6 dropping into corners - a complaint regularly levelled at standard-tyred R6s.

Triumph's poor show is more to do with the test being conducted purely on track. If it had been on the road as well, the Daytona's soft suspension would have won it many friends.

The Ducati hasn't faired well, but to be fair, if you want a Ducati, then the 749S is a great bike, but it doesn't justify its inflated price tag against the cheaper Japanese machinery.

The Supertest began as an idea last year between Spanish magazines Solo Moto and el Periodico, Portuguese mag Motojornal, Italian magazine La Moto and Visordown. The idea of the test was to put all of the very best sportsbikes head-to-head on track in one huge, comprehensive test to find out which was the best according to several different criteria. In order to stop arguments, the bikes were all lap timed.

Now in its second year, the Supertest has become even more comprehensive. Every bike tested was supplied by the relevant manufacturer and came complete with a factory representative and technical support to ensure that it was performing to its absolute peak against the competition.

The original test team of just five magazines has expanded to include twelve publications from ten different countries all over the world. Riders involved include world class racers such as James Whitham and Olivier Jacque, national champions, race school instructors and journalists whose job it is to ride and rate every new bike launched each year.

For the 2004 Supertest, the bikes were taken to the challenging Almeria circuit in Spain, used by all of the British Superbike teams for testing, as it has a perfect combination of tight and twisty sections as well as a very fast straight to test all of a bike's performance. It's also one of the driest areas of Spain, so conditions are consistent for all three days.

Every bike was fitted with Michelin's brand new Pilot Power tyre to take out the inconsistency of varying
original equipment tyres, and to give the riders the grip required to push the bikes hard enough to really sort out the winners from the losers.

Every rider filled in a form rating each bike in order, from best to worst, on five different criteria:

Motor - how well the engine performed
Comfort - how comfortable the bike was
Chassis - how the bike handled
Price - the cheapest bike in each country got the top score, the most expensive the worst
Equipment - what you get for your money, e.g. Ohlins suspension, lap timer, rev light etc.

Ducati 749S Review

DUCATI 749S

Price     £9600
Power     105bhp
Weight     192kg

Comfort     1/7
Chassis     3/7
Motor     2/7
Equipment     4/7
Price     1/7

Final ranking     7th out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION

Like its big brother, the 749S doesn't feel that fast, but it is beautifully balanced. The brakes are really good, despite not being radial, and the lazy nature of the V-twin is relaxing after the screaming rev-happiness of the inline 600s. Handling is like the 999's; point it at the apex and it just hits it, no effort and very balanced. It feels heavier than the feather-light Japanese fours and takes a bit more effort to turn in, but this is just a Ducati trait and the 999 feels very similar. Would I want a 749S? To be truthful probably not; I reckon that the inline fours are much more fun to ride. I like to scream an engine and feel like I'm riding a bike, which is something you simply don't do on a Ducati.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION

Should the Ducati be compared to a 600? I'm not sure. If you want a Duke, the 749S is a very good bike with very balanced and planted handling, excellent brakes and a beautiful motor, but it isn't a 600 and costs several thousands more. Given the choice, I would always go for an inline four.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS

If your pocket's deep enough, this is the bike. The lack of power is made up for by its impressive chassis and cycle parts, which let you ride as fast as its rivals but with less effort.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain

The little Duke doesn't impress me, neither for power nor agility. The gearchange is a little imprecise. The brakes are very effective and its angle of lean is surprising.
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil

Very stable in corners, it gives a lot of confidence. Contrary to the 999, you have to keep the engine spinning to maintain a good rhythm. It hasn't much power, but you don't have to fight it to go fast.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany

The only twin in the category is a bike with a special character born for the track. Its chassis gives excellent stability and high corner speed. It brakes with authority.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain

It's superprecise around the twists and turns of Almeria. You think where you want to go and you're there. The Ducati is not as agile as either the R6 or GSX-R600, but it is more precise.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal

A really fun bike to ride, with the unmistakable feel of a Ducati. The rigid steel trellis chassis makes it both agile and stable in the fast corners.
Guim Roda, SoloMoto - Spain

KAWASAKI ZX-6R
Price         £7200
Power         107bhp
Weight     161kg

Comfort     3/7
chassis     5/7
motor         7/7
Equipment     3/7
Price         6/7

Final ranking     3rd out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION
It was a surprise riding this after the 600cc RR as the engines felt very similar, which means the RR must be really powerful or just very deceptively fast. Everything else on the two bikes felt the same, although the RR had a slightly better front end feel, which was probably a combination of the slipper clutch and the higher quality front suspension with its reduced friction coating. The handling is light and fast, the front end is excellent and the brakes are stunning. The only problem is the rev counter, which is impossible to read. It's the same on the ZX-6RR and ZX-10R; the digital display just doesn't catch the eye, which is a real pain in the arse when you're going for it. Sort it out Kawasaki!

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION
The 636's extra 36ccs are almost impossible to spot as both the GSX-R and ZX-6RR have as strong mid-ranges. Like the ZX-6RR, the handling is excellent and the brakes are superb, but for some reason I always seemed to go faster on the RR. I'm not sure why, could be to do with the slipper clutch?

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS
It has the best motor in the category, not only for its power, but for the way it delivers it, and it breathes like no other bike in the class in the mid-range. With a reasonably rigid chassis, its behaviour on the move is fairly radical.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain
It's a real racebike. the engine has so much strength from low revs up to the highest. The brakes are impressive, gearchange precise and smooth.
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil
What I said for the RR goes for the R, although the
former is more orientated toward racing. The ZX-6R is more sporting for the road and in my opinion has a better motor than the 600.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany
With the same cycle parts, equipment and handling as the 6RR, the 636, with its greater capacity, responds better and more quickly in the low- and mid-range rpm.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain
It's similar to the RR, but it has more thanks to the extra displacement which shows in the twisty parts of the circuit. It runs a little wide on the bends, but is very strong on track.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.
Compared to other supersports bikes, this Kawa has a 36cc advantage and is much nicer for it. Out of hairpins it lets you drive more smoothly than the rest of the 600s. Otherwise same as its sister.
Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

KAWASAKI ZX-6RR
Price         £7645
Power         104bhp
Weight     161kg

Comfort     2/7
chassis     6/7
motor         4/7
Equipment     6/7
Price         3/7

Final ranking     4th out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION
This feels like a typical 600; it's lovely. You really have to rev its tits off, especially after riding the 1000s all day, and it doesn't feel that quick, but who cares? It's great fun. The front end felt really good and the brakes are also very sharp, although the front was slightly soft when you really pushed it . The riding position suited me well: it's quite racy, which I like and it feels much more compact than the larger GSX-R600. The handling is really good; light and fast into a turn and also very stable when it's leant over. The howl from the airbox is mega and it encourages you to thrash it even harder - not that I needed much encouragement! The only problem is the rev counter, which is still impossible to read.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION
The new internals for 2004 give the RR as much mid-range as the GSX-R and it has an even stronger top-end. The handling feels really light and it was the easiest of all the 600s to get from left to right through the chicane . The radial brakes are brilliant and the roar from the air-box is so intoxicating.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS
With a sporting riding position, but not as extreme as the Honda, the Kawa has a strong and sensitive chassis, light, with good brakes. The engine has a good kick and the smooth gearchange makes you forget how the Kawasakis used to be.
Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain
The same spirit as the 636 with less push in the midrange. Suspension is a bit harder than the 636 and less efficient. Total racing.
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil
It's a fun bike to ride. The gearbox is very good and the clutch very racy. The brakes are progressive and for a real race bike it is comfortable.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany
If what you want is a pure competition bike, the 6RR is for you. It has everything: stability, radial brakes, good mobility, incredible response in the high revs. Whatever you do you can take it to the limit with
confidence.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain
The roadrider will only notice a small loss of midrange urge in comparison to the 636. Otherwise it's impeccable, with excellent brakes and agility.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain
It has improved much with the engine modification. It's very precise and handles very well on this track. Its brakes are the best of the supersports, the most powerful and progressive. I liked it last year and I still like it this year.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.

SUZUKI GSX-R600K4
Price         £6849
Power         101bhp
Weight     161kg

Comfort     5/7
chassis     4/7
motor         5/7
Equipment     7/7
Price         7/7

Final ranking     1st out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION
The GSX-R's engine felt really raw and aggressive and made loads of noise, which was great, but I didn't think it was as powerful as the Kawasaki or the R6. All show and no go? Not really. Get it spinning and it will hold the bigger capacity ZX-6R, but it needs revs. The handling felt a bit lazy, but very safe. I never felt like I would fall down on it, which is a new feeling for me! It doesn't feel heavy, but it is physically bigger than the other 600s, which some riders will like. The brakes are as good as the Kawasaki's but not quite up to the Honda's mega stoppers. I really enjoyed riding the GSX-R600, but once you have ridden the GSX-R750, it never seems as good again. Shame.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION
The GSX-R is everything I want in a 600. It's slightly larger than the others, which fits my six-foot frame better. The handling is brilliant and you can just charge into corners in total confidence because the feedback is so good. The brakes are as sharp as the ZX-6R's and it has that GSX-R raw character.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS
Without doubt the new benchmark. The engine is explosive, it's superior to its rivals in most aspects, like the brakes, for example, which are similar to the Kawasaki's, but more progressive.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain
It's very powerful and
comfortable yet still extremely sporty. In fast corners, especially as you started to accelerate, the chassis begins to feel a little loose.
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil
It's a better sportsbike than the CBR with a riding position more suited to the track. Very powerful engine, the brakes are very good. The problem was that the suspension was too soft for the track.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany
The Hamamatsu factory has built a very stable bike, light and fully equipped. Its engine and fuel injection respond with finesse and power and the chassis makes it quick and stable.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain
For me it's the winner because it is the most stable, with much better brakes than before.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.
For me it has been the
surprise of the Supertest. It has a high seat and is comfortable and the engine and gearchange feel good, thanks to the fuel injection. But it is a demanding motorbike. You have to watch the rev counter to squeeze its maximum potential.
Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

YAMAHA YZF-R6
Price         £7499
Power         106bhp
Weight     162kg

Comfort     7/7
chassis     7/7
motor         6/7
Equipment     1/7
Price         5/7

Final ranking     2nd out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION
I absolutely loved the R6, and I'm not just saying that because I used to race one. The Kawasaki felt more aggressive in the set up and when you first get on the R6 you think it's a bit touring, but the faster you go, the better it gets. The mid-range is dead strong, although the top end isn't as good as the Kawasaki, and the
handling is spot on. The only thing that lets it down are the brakes, which are the worst of the 600s and need a real big squeeze to get any reaction. According to Jon, this R6 has a different sized front tyre to normal which improves the handling loads. I'm not sure about this, as I haven't ridden one on the smaller section tyre, but all
I can say is this one worked really well.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION
What a difference a change of front tyre makes. With the horrible 60-section front swapped for a 70-section, the R6 is transformed. It feels like a race bike; small, narrow and with quite high pegs and the handling backs this up. It turns in quickly and tightens its line mid-corner with no protest.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS
It maintains its high standard. It hasn't got the best brakes, nor the best stability, but maybe it has one of the best engines. It's the one I like the most because it's the most stable of them all.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain
The engine is not fantastic in low or mid range, the gearchange is a bit stiff; the chassis is good as well as the riding position. The front suspension doesn't give confidence.
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil
Jeffrey de Vries did an excellent job with the suspension. The R6 doesn't feel as nervous as before. Good engine performance. The brakes are OK. It's comfortable and has room to move around.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany
It's the one that you can lean over the best thanks to its front end. It allows you to throw it into corners and maintain stability. The engine is very elastic and at high revs it's the best bike.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain
It's a delicious bike with good cycle parts and well developed suspension by de Vries. You can do all kinds of things with it, but it's not the most stable one. It's very compact, but doesn't offer much
protection.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.
The R6 is still the most competitive. In Almeria we had a bike that was very well set up. Its rigidity is like a racebike. It's stable and quick.
Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain

AND SO TO CONCLUDE...
Suzuki's new and improved for 2004 GSX-R600 wins the Supertest for the smaller capacity bikes, just ahead of Yamaha's R6 and Kawasaki's brace of ZX-6Rs.

The GSX-R managed to top the price and equipment rankings while sticking in the top four of all other categories, helping it scoop the win.
The surprise of the bunch is the R6, which was well out of contention when TWO tested the 600s at the start of the year. What's made the difference? The control tyre, that's what. The OE 60-section front was swapped for a more conventional 70-section, which vastly improves the handling. None of the testers complained about the feeling of the R6 dropping into corners - a complaint regularly levelled at standard-tyred R6s.
Triumph's poor show is more to do with the test being conducted purely on track. If it had been on the road as well, the Daytona's soft suspension would have won it many friends.
The Ducati hasn't faired well, but to be fair, if you want a Ducati, then the 749S is a great bike, but it doesn't justify its inflated price tag against the cheaper Japanese machinery.

HONDA CBR600RR
Price     £7299
Power     107bhp
Weight     169kg

Comfort     4/7
chassis     2/7
motor     3/7
Equipment     5/7
Price     2/7

Final ranking    5th out of 7

JAMES WHITHAM'S OPINION
It's like a baby version of the Blade. The brakes are phenomenal - the best of any road bike I have ridden and prove that you don't really need those radial things, well not if you're Honda anyway. It doesn't really do anything spectacularly well, apart from brake, but does everything really well. Get an average rider and they will think it's ace, but I just can't seem to push it that hard. The engine is flat in the mid-range and has to be screamed to get it going - it's nowhere near as powerful as the R6, ZX-6Rs or GSX-R. Dare I say it, but to me it just feels a bit dull. I know it's a brilliant bike, but the other Japanese bikes just light my fire more. That doesn't seem to bother the WSS guys mind - they're flying on the CBR.

JON URRY'S SECOND OPINION
I find the CBR the most confidence-inspiring bike around because the chassis is just so good. In typical Honda fashion, the CBR just seems to fit every rider and give them the confidence to go fast. The major problem with it is the lack of mid-range; it has to be above 8000rpm to get any kind of drive.

WHAT THE WORLD'S MOTORCYCLE PRESS
This is a very agile supersport on which you move very naturally. It enjoys a good front end and impressive brakes but the engine could be better in low and mid-range.
Sergi Mejias, el Periodico - Spain
The most calm. It accepts inexperienced riders. I don't like the brakes; they don't have that final bite. Rear suspension is soft but the front is very good. The engine only wakes up at 11,000rpm .
Eduardo Zampieri, MOTO! - Brazil
It's a good sporty bike with an excellent riding position. It turns well in the corners and the only problem I can see are the brakes as you have to use force to make them work.
Guido Kupper, MO - Germany
The cycle parts and brakes are the best thing about the new CBR, as it is very small and easy to handle and position in a bend. The brakes are powerful, the engine is powerful but it only takes off at the end.
Albert Escoda, Solo Moto - Spain
It's a racing bike, very extreme, with an engine that is feels like it is missing something lower down the range - it needs to rev very high to get going. Aesthetically it isn't the prettiest.
Mario Figueiras, Moto - Portugal.
The CBR is very compact, very effective with a good balance between its engine and the chassis. It's easy to ride fast and brakes very well.
Guim Roda , SoloMoto - Spain