I've come onto this from a GPZ500s and a ZXR400L, both of which I still own (both undergoing engine rebuilds due to high mileage), looking for a reliable new bike.
I rang OnYerBike ne Bicester on a wednesday evening, left a deposit, and picked up the newly registered bike on Saturday morning, despite MCE being slow with the documentation, leaving OYB to sort the registration out at 2pm friday! They were excellent, and I got to any anything from their shop to the 0% finance with 10% off... see the new Schuberth C3...
Now, onto the bike.
First of all, my zxr (1997) revs to 14,000rpm, has touched 141mph on one occassion (level ground, slight tailwind I assume), has a full ally chasis and USD forks and massive brakes,and makes about 60ish bhp at the rear wheel.
So when I say that this new bikes pulls ALOT harder, accelerates faster to the ton, and handles as well, if not better, you'll understand what an amazing job kawasaki has done with a steel chasis and cheap suspension. It also shows what nearly 15 years will do to an exceptional bike.
Despite still breaking it in, the fuel economy appears good (50mpg+ at 80ish) and should improve a little soon. Build quality is excellent, and the overall feel of finish is also brilliant. The handling is excellent, easy going, but with enough built-in confidence to help rid you of the dreaded chicken strips in short order. The ride back from the dealer should do it! Once you've scrubbed them in I mean - I live 75 miles from OYB so mine were scrubbed.
Several 120+ miles journeys have shown it to be comfy up to 80, after which I expect the windblast will get a little severe. Seat is very firm (Think ZXR more than GPZ) but well shaped. Brakes also firm. Throttle nice and linear. Cable clutch excellent as per usual (I always find cables give better feel than hydraulic), and gear change crisp.
Comparison to my friends '97 GSXR 600 SRAD shows it to be as fast through the twisties thanks to the low down grunt, only loosing out on the longest of straights.
In short, you might be able to get a used 600 from the late 90s for a grand, but it won't be as reliable, in as good a condition, will only be marginally faster, and you'll be paying a grand up front, and probably £50 to £100 a month to keep it alive (if like me you use it more often than summer sundays).
Of you could get a brand new bike for £130ish per month on 0% finance for £100 down, 2 years warrenty with the option to extend anytime, NO RUST, and it'll still be worth £3000 in a few years.
I know which option I should have chosen two years ago when I was looking for my first bike.
Oh, and for you experienced riders...
I've done several trackdays, and this will hold its own in the inters group, and in good hands, maybe even the fast group. So if you're looking for anything less than a new 750 sports bike, look this way.
Only down sides - no mpg read out, no radiator stone guard, and kawasaki's extortionate crash bungs. Gonna see if SES racing ZXR400 bungs work, for a third of the price!