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Staff bikes: Suzuki GSX-R600 - First impressions

By James Keen -

First rides & tests

 26 April 2010 10:18

My gleaming new GSX-R600 turned up at the office at 2.50pm on Friday and by 3 I was on the way up to Skegness for the MCN Live! weekend. 

I'd volunteered to help marshall the MCN ride out on Saturday and it was the perfect way to put the first couple of hundred miles on the new bike.

It got quite a few admiring glances at the event - even Charley Boorman gave it the once over (see second pic on the right).

The GSX-R600 had 12 miles on the clock when it arrived. Obviously I was very conscious of the slippy new tyres, so I decided to make use of the power mode switch.

A toggle on the right switchgear lets you select either A, B, or C mode. A is full power, B is medium and C is rain mode. I went for B....

... at least for a mile or two that is. After that I couldn't help myself and I had to flick it into A mode. Thankfully the sun was shining, roads were dry and the GSX-R is incredibly easy to ride for such a performance-orientated machine.

I'll need to play around with the mode switch a bit more but I can't imagine a situation when I'll use B mode - maybe for riding with a pillion? I expect C mode to be handy for commuting in the wet though.

The manual says to keep below 8,000rpm for the first 500 miles, then below 12,000rpm for the next 500. It sounds restrictive, but 8k in top gear is about 90mph so it's not so bad. I've resisted the temptation to thrash it so far!

The thing that's amazed me most about the engine is how flexible it is. Everyone says 600 sports bikes are peaky, but the GSX-R600 will happily pull from 30mph in 6th.

Of course if you want a strong burst of acceleration for an overtake you need to go down a couple of gears and to get the most from it you do have to work the box, but you could just as easily leave this bike in 5th and cruise around at a decent (indecent?) pace.

Everything about the GSX-R600 is a level above what I'm used to. I don't feel like I can get close to using it properly on the road. I'm going to try and fly through the running-in period as fast as possible, spend a Sunday gently scrubing in the tyres and then get this thing on track! 

Further reading:
Staff bike blogsSuzuki GSX-R600 blog

gsxr60010 blog10