RideApart takes on a long-term summer project, a shiny new Suzuki GSX-R600. We are tuning it, track racing it, hitting the canyons and finding out how urban it is.
Bound for the north but not before selecting the proper summertime two-wheeled companion – a Suzuki GSX-R600 should do just fine.
After learning of a temporary relocation up to northern California for the summer (Silicon Valley to be exact), we were instantly excited about the magnitude of projects this opportunity presented. Loaded with many nearby canyon and mountain roads, technical race tracks with beautiful surroundings, long stretches of desert highway and diverse cityscapes, the Bay Area offers a new setting for RideApart to test a bike capable of taking advantage of this new set of offerings. A wide range of riding gear and bike modifications could also be fully exercised with such diverse riding conditions available. The critical question at hand was to determine which 2014 model would best handle these environments.
Given the availability of multiple, highly-regarded race tracks within an hour or two (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway and Thunderhill Raceway Park), a sportbike was the obvious format. Due to the notoriously tight mountain roads, narrow city streets (where lane splitting is legal, common and a necessity) and requirement to get creative when parking, a compact and smaller displacement bike would be ideal. This brings us to the middleweight supersport class. Comprising this ballot are the big four Japanese contenders including the Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Yamaha YZF-6R, Britain’s heavy hitter – the Triumph Daytona 675, as well as the Ducati 899 Panigale and MV Agusta F3 800 Italian exotics. Having road and track tested each model in the past, we felt there was only one clear candidate for the job. The Italian exotics are awesomely beautiful bikes and very pronounced in their actions but are less relevant to the common sportbike rider. The Daytona 675 is one of the most fun bikes out there but the lack of prevalent aftermarket options had us hesitant. This brings us to the Land of the Rising Sun where the YZF-R6 is all too common, the CBR600RR is a bit under powered and the ZX-6R is sometimes deemed a “cheater bike” with its 636cc powerplant. In our minds, the best overall candidate for this position received the nod; the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600.
The 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600 is one of the most versatile sportbikes on the market this year. The highly refined, compact and rigid GSX-R chassis allows for an extremely planted ride. Complimenting a nearly best-in-class curb weight of 412lbs, the ergonomics and geometry of the bike allow for a feather-light feel on the bars both around city streets and canyon roads at highway speeds. The bike flicks into corners with ease and provides excellent feedback instilling comfort and confidence. When this speed needs to be shed in a hurry, the Brembo binders take care of this quite nicely; an easy yet deliberate squeeze of the right-hand lever translates into smooth, linear braking. Also via the right-hand clip-on, the rider can cycle through the secondary information displayed on the instrument cluster such as overall mileage, two trip odometers, the lap timer and clock by use of the thumb without having to take a hand off the throttle. The instrument display is very well organized with digits easy to read at a quick glance including the large gear selection indicator and analog-style tachometer. Though the motor may not put up top dyno figures right out of the box, it has been known to respond very well to aftermarket engine modifications which we fully intend to prove.
Over the course of the next few months, we are going to be documenting our process of exploring the GSX-R’s capabilities in the northern California landscape. Everything from road and track testing performance reviews, riding gear evaluation and modification installation how-to’s will be covered. It’s going to be a busy summer but someone has to do it and the GSX-R600 has been recruited to be a part of the team. Stay tuned for each step of the sportbike summer in Silicon Valley.
What would you like to see us add or do on our project bike?