Find or Sell Motorcycles & Scooters in USA

GSX-R600 long-termer update

Mon, 18 Oct 2010

When MF asks me if I fancy riding the Visordown test GSX-R 600 for a bit, I hesitate for about a millisecond before accepting. Why? ‘Cos my own courier’s favourite Diversion 900 may be heavy and utterly unexciting, but it is also a comfortable and trusty commuter ride that suits the Smoke very nicely, thanks. But I take a deep breath and agree to give the Suzuki a go.

Naturally, the swap from mid-90’s behemoth to a current supersports 600 requires a bit of a mental readjustment. First up is the lack of weight, then the riding position, the 16k redline, the incredibly firm suspension, precision steering, the lack of back brake (it’s on the right, Richard) or top box… and the transmission lash from the  hammock-slack chain.

Having got it home, I tighten the chain and inflate the tyres to spec for a back roads squirt. Using even half the available rev band is hard work; this thing needs a track if I'm to use more. Fine as it is, I’m struggling to see why I’d have one. Next time out, however, I relax, don’t try as hard and find a sweet, rapid pace that suits the Suzuki without asking much of it.

It’s still way faster than I could go on the Divvy and, funnily enough, more comfortable. I imagine huge reserves of grip, composure, braking and acceleration and find myself with more time to think, act and enjoy the urgent note of the stock exhaust.

The suspension is still a trifle too firm for my liking, especially on the London commute where I struggle a couple of times with the extremely limited steering lock. This is exacerbated by the proximity of the throttle grip to the tank at full-lock. Keeping speed down in town requires constant attention until I get into the habit of sticking in third or fourth.

Time for a fiddle. Angling the brake and clutch levers downwards by five degrees massively improves low-speed control. I back off the fork and low-speed rear compression damping by one quarter turn each and then ride into town on what feels like a magic carpet of supple damping.

Even the riding position makes sense for the commute once I get right up to the tank and take a lot of body weight on the balls of the feet.  Sliding to the back of it works just fine for an hour at least on the motorway and the ease with which I can shift weight from side to side is a revelation after the 900. Which, when I get back on, feels exactly like what it is; a big, bouncy,  baggy  old bus. And it’s a good example. Can I keep the Suzuki a bit longer, please?

By Richard Hallett

See also: Stafford Bric-a-Brac. Misery and Sadness in excess, GSX-R600 and CBR250R the glass is half full, Racing vows renewed at Motegi.