Ahh, the 600 class. They tend to provoke a love/hate sort of respect level with most street riders. There are those who feel that a 600cc, 100 horsepower sportbike is all you need to hang a decent wheelie or get a triple digit speeding ticket by the time you’re at the end of an onramp—and that’s hard to argue. Then there are the haters. Typically astride a 1000cc or larger bike, they have no respect for anybody on a “little 600” and have even been known to heckle these bikes at various gatherings. Such loathsome behavior is ridiculous at best, and had they ever paid their dues and come up through the smaller class they’d realize such silly conduct is rather pointless.
And if they had a go on the 2011 GSX-R600 they’d surely recognize the error of their ways and beg forgiveness from the 600cc community. The new community, that is. Kawasaki broke the anemic, feeble-engine trend with its most recent ZX-6R, and now Suzuki is back in the game with its new Gixxer. The most exciting news to hit the GSX-R600 fan club is that the new model has midrange power—and lots of it. That means no more multiple downshifts just to pass a car quickly or get out of a potentially harmful situation. From 7000 RPM and up the GSX-R progressively pulls harder and harder. That means no more screaming around town at ten grand with your pipe wailing while every cop within a mile radius tries to pinpoint your whereabouts. It also means your left foot gets a break from constantly stabbing at the shift lever during a twisty backroad ride. Try to lug a lower gear on the previous model and you’ll have enough time to make a call and check your email before the engine gets into its sweet spot.
We discovered this tasty new motor at the Barber Motorsports Circuit, a fantastic track that combines lots of elevation changes with various sorts of corners—much like what you’ll find during backroad street rides. It was at about the midpoint of our first session that the realization of something equally bizarre and unique was taking place on the left side of the bike. Could it be that I was actually shortshifting through several corners? On a 600, that couldn’t be right. Sure, the Suzuki press dudes had mentioned the focus on midrange power during the previous evening’s press conference, but you never really give their claims a lot of credit until you can experience it for yourself. And yet, there it was, making power well below the top third of the rev range—previously no man’s land on a 600.
But where did this newfound midrange glory come from and why wasn’t it there in years past? The motor has been completely redesigned, and while they were at it, Suzuki engineers even decided to rotate it upwards three degrees in the frame to aid in the bike’s overall shorter geometry, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At the core of the motor’s structure are new holes—crankcase ventilation chambers to be exact. The old motor’s crankcase featured a round ventilation chamber, but the new model utilizes a pentagonal shape that is claimed to help reduce crankcase pressure and help the engine to breathe better—resulting in a quicker revving motor overall. Suzuki explained in great deal how it shaved off a few grams here and a couple ounces there while redesigning the pistons, rods and bearings, all of which seemed slightly irrelevant (if not annoying) during the presentation. But the surprise climax came when it was announced that in total there’s nearly a four and a half pound weight savings in the motor alone, which is pretty huge when you consider it came from making each component smaller, lighter and more efficient.
The engine was rotated upwards...
The engine was rotated upwards in the frame by three degrees to help shorten the overall wheelbase.
The new dash features programmable...
The new dash features programmable shift lights, gear position and mode selection. The mode selector button is neatly positioned on the front of the left switchgear.
Brembo calipers are attached...
Brembo calipers are attached to Showa Big Piston Forks—both exceptional upgrades over last year's equipment.