2007 Suzuki GSX-R600

  • MSRP: $8,899
  • Weight: 407 lbs (empty tank)
  • Weight Distribution: 51.7% F (w/full tank)
  • Peak HP: 101.8 @ 13,400 rpm
  • Peak Torque: 43.2 lb-ft @ 11,100 rpm
  • 1/4-mile: 10.75 @ 132.8 mph
  • Observed Fuel Economy: 32.1 mpg

As technology and R&D advance the art of sportbike design, the machines offered in showrooms continue to winnow in on excellence. That makes it tough for the unchanged combatants in a particular year, and it’s how a bitchin’ supersport like the baby Gixxer can be forced into the shadows by new players.

But take a ride on the 2007 Suzuki GSX-R600 and you’ll quickly become aware of a highly developed sporting tool. On a particular solo run on the Gixxer, the man/machine interface was direct and inspirational, not wanting of a dollop more power or a scintilla of a quicker flick. Its available power is plentiful and the gearbox and slipper clutch works seamlessly at the command of your fingers and toes. The twisty road ahead is consumed to the accompaniment of a beautiful scream from the injected Four. It’s difficult to imagine a much better experience.

Although the Gixxer still has its many strong attributes that contributed to the win in last year’s Street shootout, the competition has grown stronger. Last year we called it the decathlete for its well-rounded abilities, and that remains true today. But that versatility has the byproduct of not really excelling in any aspect.

“If ever there was a bike that did everything well but few things great, this is it,” BC compliments back-handedly. “The Gixxer does nothing wrong, it just didn’t grab my attention in any one area.”

Indeed, the GSX-R600 is ranked above 80% in 14 of 15 categories, so you know this thing is good. Its lowest mark is a still-respectable 78%, although, sadly, that was a fourth-place showing in our Grin Factor category that has direct ties to our heartstrings.

“Maybe the issue here is not a problem with the GSX-R but a testament to how good the competition is these days,” Kenny adds.

The Gixxer offers up the same accommodating cockpit we enjoyed last year. Its fairing is the most protective of this group, its seat is relatively cushy, and the reach to the angled-back clip-ons isn’t much of a stretch. But it’s those handlebars that also drew complaints.

“The bars are narrow and swept back, which has to be my biggest gripe,” BC chides. “They just don’t give the kind of leverage I like having.” And Roberti, who rode only at the racetrack, also rebuked the placement of the grips. “It’s hard to flick or be aggressive due to the narrow position of the handlebars.”

The Gixxer’s steering geometry is about as aggressive as the CBR, but it has the added stability of a wheelbase nearly an inch longer. Still, it doesn’t feel slow steering except at low speeds when the bike’s standard steering damper restricts it a bit.

“I don’t think the Gixxer was the quickest steering bike out there, but it did turn in pretty damn quick and was very stable through the corner,” notes BC. “Both front- and rear-end feel are confidence inspiring.” As for our boy Hutch, he said he preferred the handling of the R6 and CBR, “but the GSX-R is still easy to ride fast.”

Last year we judged the Suzuki’s powerplant as the best of the 599cc motors because of its breadth of muscle and a competitive top end. But the new CBR has reset the bar and the new ZX is very close to the Gixxer.

“It has good midrange power but it doesn’t exhibit the top-end rush of the R6 or CBR,” Kenny observes. “For that matter, it didn’t feel as powerful on the track as the Ninja. On the road it has plenty of gumption for sport riding, so I asked myself what it is about the GSX-R motor that isn’t good. The answer is, not much if it’s not being compared to the CBR.”

Well, there is one more thing. Both Hutch and Haldane noted a level of vibration from the engine that Robin called “noticeable and somewhat annoying.” Kenny takes over from there:

“The GSX-R motor is a growling beast that vibrates like Duke on a double latte. It makes me think it’s revved up a few thousand rpm higher than it actually is. The motor does make a sweet intake howl when it’s on the pipe, though, and it’s deceptively fast.”

Much smoother, in comparison, is the fuel-injection system when it’s time to reapply throttle. In this important respect, it’s only second to the stellar Ninja. Notably, the Gixxer is the only one of this quartet that doesn’t require premium fuel; interestingly, Suzuki’s Garrett Kai tells us the bike actually makes about one less horsepower with premium fuel.

Transferring power to the rear wheel is a transmission and clutch that work together in harmony. The clutch offers good feel for stoplight sprints and its back-torque-limiting design makes high-rpm downshifts cooperative on the racetrack. Shift effort is light and positive, but a couple of testers noted some reluctance when trying to access first gear from neutral.

Taller gearing in its lower cogs mute acceleration somewhat, hindered also by its 407-lb weight that is 14 lbs more than the R6 and 26 lbs heavier than the CBR. Its 10.75 E.T. during our quarter-mile runs was off the 10.60 pace run by the aforementioned pair. When slowing from a-buck-thirty or so, it’s reassuring to have brakes like the GSX-R – first-rate and offering up a firm lever and plenty of control.

California GSX-R600 owners who might like to sport-tour will be frustrated with the petite 4.1-gallon fuel capacity in their version – the low-fuel light in our tester always came on before any other 600. Those outside of Cali get an extra 0.3 gallon capacity, 4.4 gallons, which is just a tenth less than the ZX and R6.

Last year we praised Suzuki for its much improved attention to detail and quality of finish on the Gix Six. That hasn’t changed, but the competition keeps getting better.

“Suzuki has put together a slick looking package with integrated signals and sweet looking bodywork, but it continues to adhere its outdated graphics schemes to it,” Haldane opines, followed up by his graphics department boss.

“Aesthetically, the Gixxer has the body to be the next top model,” adds BC, “but it lacks the finish and attention to detail possessed by some of the others. I think they could at least offer up one version that comes in a solid color without the cheesy bold graphics.”

GSX-Rs are typically strong sellers, so it shouldn’t be surprising that not everyone shares the above opinion. “There isn’t anything wrong with the anime-inspired GSX-R design,” Hutchison pipes in. “I like the way the lines are curvy compared to the sharp angles of the R6 and CBR.”

The Gixxer won back some votes by scoring highest in the Features and User Friendly categories because of things like including a gear-position indicator, adjustable footpegs and cleanly integrated turn signals. And not only is its seat cowl standard equipment (while it’s an extra-cost option on the others), it also has storage space underneath that proves to be highly convenient for everything from stuffing in a Snickers bar to carrying our on-board video cameras. Making the deal even sweeter is the lowest price tag of the group, just $8,899.

“Since all these bikes are so close in performance and ability, the Suzuki is a great value,” notes Haldane.