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Gilera unveils 600 SuperSport

Published: 16 September 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

When we first showed spy photos of Gilera’s new SuperSport 600 in July, it was clear the bike was special. The first official pictures have confirmed that. And, if anything, it’s even better looking than we first thought.

The bike’s specifications prove that its talents are more than skin deep – in fact, the new Gilera promises to be a serious challenger to anything else in the class.

The engine comes from Suzuki’s latest, fuel-injected GSX-R600 – one of the most technically advanced in the class. It carries over Suzuki’s dual butterfly throttle system, which uses a second, computer-operated butterfly to smooth-out the power delivery and reduce the jerky part-throttle feeling often associated with injected bikes.

Gilera hasn’t released an official power figure but there’s no reason to suspect the bike will make any less than the GSX-R, which has around 103bhp at the rear tyre – making it at least as powerful as any other 600cc sportsbike.

Where most 600cc sportsbikes are built to a budget, with low-cost components in chassis and suspension to keep the price down, Gilera has accepted that its bike may be a little more expensive and decided to fit components that most 600 owners only dream of.

The frame spars themselves are extruded alumiunium – as on most bikes in the class – but where most bikes use relatively heavy cast aluminium for the headstock, the Gilera has a totally different concept. Instead of cast alloy, it has a fabricated box-section headstock reinforced with titanium plates, which are simply glued to the alloy of the frame. Glue might not sound as strong as traditional welding, but Gilera claims it has used a system that is common practice in the aerospace industry to ensure the perfect combination of low weight and extreme rigidity.

The use of titanium helps keep the bike’s dry weight below any of its competitors. At a claimed 162kg (356lb) it’s 1kg (2.2lb) lighter than the Suzuki that donates the engine – and around 8kg (18lb) lighter than the competition from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Triumph.

The box-section headstock also allows the firm to run the bike’s ram-air intake straight through the steering head to the airbox – a system similar to that used on the Honda VTR1000 SP-1 and SP-2. The direct airflow should help maximise the effect of the ram-air – giving even more power at high speed.

Gilera hasn’t stopped at the frame. The suspension is also far higher specification than you would expect on a 600cc machine.

The front forks are fully adjustable for pre-load, compression and rebound, and unlike the competitors, the Gilera uses upside-down units for more rigidity and less unsprung weight.

At the back, there’s also a fully adjustable shock.

In a further effort to reduce unprung weight – allowing the suspension to work more efficiently – the firm has opted for lightweight, 17-inch Brembo alloy wheels. These are shod with 120/70 front and 180/55 rear tyres – so all the stickiest sportsbike rubber should fit.

Brembo also supplies the brakes and the Gilera comes with braided steel brake lines as standard.

The big-name components don’t stop with the Brembo brakes and wheels – the Gilera even features a titanium Akrapovic exhaust system as standard. As well as saving weight, the system could squeeze a couple of extra bhp out of the Suzuki motor.

The bike’s low weight is emphasised by its compact proportions. At just two metres long, it’s shorter than a GSX-R600 – not a big bike itself. The wheelbase is shorter, too, at 1392mm, while it is also a couple of millimetres narrower than the Suzuki.

The combination of low weight and high-quality suspension should help guarantee good handling – and with a tight steering head angle of 23.5 degrees it’s likely to be extremely flickable.

So far, Gilera hasn’t revealed how much the machine will cost, but insiders expect it to slot in between the price of a Japanese 600 and more expensive Italian machines like the Ducati 748. That would put it at about £7500-£8000 in the UK.

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