Niall's Spin: Suzuki GSX-R600 (1997-98)

The early GSX-R600 is a winner. Yes it's an extremely capable sports/track bike but it's reliable and can be pressed into everyday or even holiday duty too

Click to read: Suzuki GSX-R600 owners reviewsSuzuki GSX-R600 specs and to see the Suzuki GSX-R600 image gallery.

If 600s are your thing and you happen to find yourself in possession of a time machine we heartily recommend a trip back to 1997 where you would find it an especially fabulous year for GSX-R600s.

Having finally realised their GSX600F was as useful to the perfromance world as a shopping trolley, Suzuki withdrew the old dog in 1996 and replaced it with the GSX-R600. Now we were talking as a razor sharp chassis met a howling motor in pure firebreathing sports scalpel brilliance.

As '97 drew to a close Suzuki edged the GSX-R a step further away from its rivals as the sportiest, screamiest 600 around with a host of minor tweaks. Sure it wasn't that comfortable and yes, the brakes were a little unrefined, but thrashing the Suzuki gave hardened headbangers a mainline hit of adrenalin. Show it a clear stretch of road or a racetrack and the results were spectacular.

All of which means, you would think, a used GSX-R600 of this vintage would be a splendid place to hurl your hard-earned, but sadly this isn't entirely the case because for all the marvels Suzuki worked on the bike they didn't pay quite as much attention to the build quality.

Add to the mix a bike which attracted more than it's share of owners from the lunatic fringe and club racing contingent and you've a recipe for some very tatty second-hand bikes. Clutches can grab thanks to repeated wheelie and traffic light GP abuse, motors once crisp can now rattle and seem less potent than they once were while the previously sweet chassis can fall apart as head bearings give up and damper units all but die as shock linkages seize solid into the bargain.

A well-loved, painstakingly maintained 1997/'98 GSX-R600 is still a thing of deep joy, but many are howlers only worth a punt if the price is cheap enough. If everything's tickety-boo it's a track missile but 10 years on most need the suspension sorting and a couple of chassis bearings replacing - £600 should have it
handling like new.

Key ID: right-way-up forks distinguish it from the 750 of the day
Walk away: if it's been raced/heavily trackday'd


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