Inline Performance Magazine

Inline Performance Magazine

Seniority, Right?

Posted: 06 Oct 2011 10:00 PM PDT

Coming from a background of café racers, dirt bikes, and enduros, it's easy to forget just how capable the modern sport bike has become over the years, and Suzuki's 2011 GSX-R 600 is no exception.

True, like my daily rider Project XT 600, the GXS-R 600 also displaces just under 600cc, but that's where the similarities obviously end. My air-cooled XT has one lonely cylinder, 45 horsepower on a good day, and tops out at around 95 miles per hour. The GSX-R's four-cylinder water cooled mill, on the other hand, revs all the way to 13,500 rpm and cranks out an impressive 123 horsepower. So there aren't a lot of similarities, and that's just the power plant.

Out on the road, the first thing I had to notice was the seating position. It's uncomfortable, hunched low over the tank with my legs farther behind me than initially felt natural. The bike is also quite small for a big guy like me—not unrideable by a long shot, but I'm well over six feet, so I felt a bit oversized for the machine.

Of course, this riding position isn't without good reason, which became immediately clear when we got to the corners. The bike turns in so effortlessly and with such stability that it's easy to forget how fast you're actually going. My XT 600 would have been left in seconds. The suspension is adjustable as well, but since I'm a long way from being the next Valentino Rossi, I left everything in the middle settings. The riding position makes sense here, giving the rider the sense that he or she is one with the motorcycle. The power comes on smoothly and predictably, and the breaks were so powerful I pulled up short at virtually every stoplight during my test ride.

But when the fun stopped and it was time to go home, I once again found myself back to complaining. Bending over so far forward really takes its toll on the your back, abs, and wrists during everyday riding. While my XT's upright seating position gives plenty of visibility for city riding, I felt much more vulnerable bent over the GSX-R.

All this should really come as no surprise. Just like a sports car isn't meant to tow trailer or move luggage, the GSX-R 600 isn't designed for commuting or being comfy through city streets. The GSX-R is meant to go fast and turn faster, and in that regard, it meets its mission well.

Stay tuned for more updates, and be sure to order your copy of the 2011 print edition of Inline Performance Magazine HERE at the pre-order price until supplies last.

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