2006 600cc shootout

Published: 13 May 2006

Test 5: Agility

Left, right, right left and the rest of the bunch were left right behind the R6. It’s not so light and short, but it’s the way the rider is sat above the bike to add momentum to the speed at which the R6 can be chucked over. Easily hauled back upright, too.

The Honda is fairly lazy at tipping in. Not as bad as the Ducati, but you can feel the Honda isn’t giving up all it could to help out. On a trailing throttle the Honda front end gives out a feeling that it’s going to tuck in and washout. There just isn’t enough front-end weight bias.

ZX-6R and 6RR are as stable as the Ducati but can be hustled into a turn with ease and, in turn, promote the feeling that it could be turned in a lot later than you thought possible.

With a waistline of a gnat that follows down to the tyres’ contact patch, the 675 allows you to indulge in late cornering tactics. Swing, grind lift and go. Beautiful. But if you’re large at the arse then the bar to seat position is cramped and restricts movement in the heat of swings. Go in prepared – bum off seat, knee out – and you’ll be laughing right behind the R6.

1 Yamaha R6

2 Suzuki GSX-R600

3 Triumph Daytona 675

4= Kawasaki ZX-6R/ZX-6RR

6 Honda CBR600RR

Click next for the next test

Test 6: Power

Only the 675 has a noticeable step in its power delivery and that’s when coming back on song from a closed throttle. Like the bigger capacity ZX-6R, the 675 has bags of drive from low-down.

Only the 675’s lot is noisy in its delivery, a noise that only Triples deliver and produce goose-pimples everywhere if you’re in earshot.

What is surprising is the way all the bikes keep pulling once they tip over 120mph, which adds fire to the debate on whether you need anything bigger than a 600.

All we’ll say on this matter is that 1000cc relatives get to 600 speeds and beyond much quicker. But it’d be fair to say that on country a-roads and 600 won’t be far behind at destination point.

1 Yamaha R6

2 Kawasaki ZX-6R

3 Triumph Daytona 675

4 Suzuki GSX-R600

5 Kawasaki ZX-6RR

6 Honda CBR600RR

Click next for the next test

Test 3: Braking

There’s none as stunning in this group as the Kawasaki set up. Those wavy discs aren’t just eye-candy. Together with callipers running heavily sintered pads they have the same stopping effect as a car wheel on a common toad. But as the fork oil gets hotter in the forks the USD legs reach the end of their stroke to cause chatter. Chatter that messes with vision and unnerves the rider.

Front fork pre-load is required. More on the ZX-RR as valve rates differ. It helps as both Kawasakis can push front wheel rubber deep into tarmac. Stability is awesome and demands later and later braking.

The CBR set-up lacks decent initial bite and power and demands that three or four fingers are used on the lever. If only Honda had upgraded them this year with a radial-action master-cylinder. But this is track action talk here, othetrwise they’re fine for the road.

The GSX-R has a radial pump and the whole braking shebang works a treat, eventually. The forks dive quite a way before the front brakes make known their intentions. Good feel at the lever is noted by two-finger use most of the time.

Triumph has had braking sussed a long time – probably from learning how to haul up its lardy older range of sports-tourers. The 675 isn’t a problem to stop, but dramatics do come with the sticky front Pirelli Pro-Corsa digging in to lift the rear and the bike starts to pirouette around the headstock. Careful set-up of the suspension would dial this out no sweat. Otherwise note that even the most serious of heads will break into a grin at the Triumph’s antics.

Ranking:

1= Kawasaki ZX-6R/ZX-6RR

3 Triumph Daytona 675

4 Yamaha R6

5 Suzuki GSX-R600

6 Honda CBR600RR Click next for the next test

Test 8: Performance

HONDA CBR600RR

Click here to find and CBR dealer

TOP SPEED

154.64 mph

SS ¼-MILE

11.04s @ 128.29mph

0-60mph

3.15s, 40.71mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

49.85mts in 4.02s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

13.90s in 494.89mts

KAWASAKI ZX-6R

Click here to find and ZX-6R dealer

TOP SPEED

157.37mph

SS ¼-MILE

10.98s @ 132.87mph

0-60mph

3.26s, 42.81mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

49.38mts in 3.28s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

12.85s in 459.40mts

KAWASAKI ZX-6RR

Click here to find and ZX-6RR dealer

TOP SPEED

155.31.mph

SS ¼-MILE

11.19s @ 128.60mph

0-60mph

3.28s, 42.08mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

46.80mts in 3.61s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

13.00s in 463.77mts

SUZUKI GSX-R600 K6

Click here to find and GSX-R dealer

TOP SPEED

155.86mph

SS ¼-MILE

11.13s @ 128.61mph

0-60mph

3.21s, 40.53mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

47.53mts in 3.75s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

13.70s in 495.03mts

TRIUMPH DAYTONA 675

Click here to find and 675 dealer

TOP SPEED

154.18mph

SS ¼-MILE

11.18s @ 129.31 mph

0-60mph

3.31s, 43.81mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

51.81mts in 3.78s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

13.00s in 473.20mts

YAMAHA YZF-R6

Click here to find and R6 dealer

TOP SPEED

152.13mph

SS ¼-MILE

11.18secs @ 131.03mph

0-60mph

3.32s, 40.70mts

BRAKING 70-0mph

51.46mts in 3.41s

TOP GEAR ROLL-ON 40-120mph

13.70s in 486.19mts

Test 7: Living with…

Suzuki’s GSX-R will be a doddle to live with as it’s cheap to buy and even £300 saving could see you buying adjustable rearsets. Oh… it has them as standard, another plus point. Considering Suzuki’s finish hasn’t always been the best, this model looks to have been finished by a bunch of ex-Honda employees.

Yamaha’s R6 is a tasty little number but could you live with it? The plus points of superb styling, choice parts (check out the chain tensioners), and powerful mill far outweigh the minuses. These being… erm, cost price (whistling a tune now) and… er, it runs hot in town. If pinning the throttle to the stop isn’t your thing then perhaps sir, or madam would be better off spending money on a brain transplant.

There’s them that will and there’s them that won’t buy the ZX-6R. It has the most powerful motor of the lot and it’s been bloody well designed to suit all types of riding conditions. So don’t bother reaching for the performance exhaust catalogue, go straight for the aftermarket screen one instead. Cure that terrible wind problem and you’ll find living with the ZX-6R is a harmonious affair.

This is more than can be said for sharing your life with the ZX-6RR. It’s so single-minded it hurts, literally. The engine needs to be worked hard to get the best from it and that’s all revs and vibes coming back at you. Fun for 1000 miles and you’ll never get your money back.

Washed and lubricated regularly will keep the Triumph 675 looking good to pull admirers in for years. But would you buy a British triple-powered sports bike? A lot of you have, as Triumph has sold all of its 2006 model year 675s. Maybe it’s a Brit-thing, you know, flag waving because it’s new so must buy… The thing is the bike never topped any of our riders’ preference lists.

The CBR600RR was the pinnacle of modern 600s but just a few years ago. It still is an attractive, reliable package it’s just that it isn’t the latest thing, the most powerful or even the cheapest. Time has moved leaving the CBR in the shadow of its competition. But a good road bike all the same.

1 Suzuki GSX-R600

2 Yamaha R6

3 Kawasaki ZX-6R

4 Honda CBR600RR

5 TriumphDaytona 675

6 Kawasaki ZX-6RR

Click next for the next test

With so much competition this year the 600cc sportsbike group-test was one of the most anticipated of the year.

The Yamaha R6 and Suzuki GSX-R600 have been totally updated, the Triumph 675 is completely new and the Honda CBR600RR and Kawasaki ZX-6R are still storming bikes – so which is the best?

We’ve gathered all the information you’ll ever need on all of the bikes and added in some of the best places in the country to buy them.

Click the links below to read how we tested the bike from every angle then, when you’ve made up your mind, click on the dealer locator links to see where your closest shop is.

Test 1: Cruising comfort

Test 2: Twists and turns

Test 3: Braking

Test 4: Stability

Test 5: Agility

Test 6: Power

Test 7: Living with...

Test 8: Performance

Test 4: Stability

It may be all new but the R6 has inherited its former demons of quick steering. Into and through turns, no matter how tight or at what speed the R6 is rock solid and agile at the same time.

But this light steering effect can bite back on the gas when the front goes light and the tyre tracks road imperfections. Fancy a slap? The R6 will oblige.

As the GSX-R comes with a comfort suspension set-up, the floaty sensation causes the bike to lurch over bumps as front and rear pogo out of synch. It can arrive at a turn unsettled to cause it to run just short of really wide.

And that’s why all the best bikes have adjustable suspension to suit differing road surfaces, speed and riding styles.

1 Triumph Daytona 675

2 Honda CBR600RR

3= Kawasaki ZX-6R/ZX-6RR

5 Yamaha R6

6 Suzuki GSX-R

Click next for the next test

Test 1: Cruising comfort

At a steady pace on the motorway the riders of the ZX-6RR and ZX-6R are the first to succumb to windblast. It’s clear the Kawasaki screens don’t do a great deal. Even though the lip of the screens are the same height as the GSX-R and CBR’s, the flatter angle means necks and heads are pummelled into submission.

The narrow build of the Triumph 675 allows windblast to rush behind the fairing upper and hit shoulders and chest with force. The GSX-Rs ride position is perfect for… everything. It’s bars aren’t near the front spindle and the screen and pegs are mounted just so for comfort – as much comfort as arse up head down race race replicas can give. Contact your local dealer to request a test ride Honda and Yamaha have done their homework. The bars are lowish but easy to reach and the seating position of seat and peg placement means body weight through wrists is minimal. Bars on the two Kawasakis stretches to reach. With thick waterproof gloves fingers and forearms start to burn with aches after 100 miles.

No bike is greater or worse with peg position. They are all designed with comfort/ground clearance compromise.

At average cruising speeds (ahem), not one of the bikes demands a downshift to negate overtaking. The 675 and ZX-6R have the edge on initial spurt, but we’re only talking a lead of a couple of feet.

Ranking:

1 Honda CBR600RR

2 Yamaha R6

3 Suzuki GSX-R600

4 Triumph Daytona 675

5 Kawasaki ZX-6R

6 Kawasaki ZX-6RR Click next for the next test

Test 2: Twists and Turns

Tight nadgery roads are dismissed as easily as fast flowing efforts. And not one bike disagrees with the way road surfaces can switch constaly. As soon as apexes are nailed throttles are abused.

If a bump is hit then it’s only the R6 and Kawasakis that hint at their track pedigree with a simple, non-threatening wag of their clip-ons – the R6 actually takes the ‘left lockstop to right lockstop’ award. It happens only once but it’s enough to make the rider wary of cracking the throttle open willy-nilly.

Suspension on all the bikes is run at standard settings. And do you know what? Not one of them needed adjustment. Although the GSX-R got the nod as having the softest set up of the lot. Not in a bad way either, described as comfortable rather than abysmal.

When the rain comes down the R6 and ZX-6RR are the ones to suffer when tip-toeing from tight corners at low revs. Anyone behind them is quick to rush up to their back lights because they have better drive.

In the wet lever pressures and front suspension need to be telling more than ever and none talks so loudly as the Triumph and R6 front ends when the brakes are used harder than they should be in such conditions. Each deep puddle is felt like a wash against a canoe’s hull.

No brakes fail to haul up in the wet, but the Suzuki’s soft front dives more adding milliseconds before braking force comes into effect.

Ranking:

1 Yamaha R6

2 Triumph Daytona 675

3 Suzuki GSX-R600

4 Kawasaki ZX-6R

5 Honda CBR600RR

6 Kawasaki ZX-6RR Click next for the next test