Suzuki GSX-R600, Honda CBR600F4, Kawasaki ZX-6R And Yamaha YZF-R6 - Reality Check

The ID Says You Need A Dozen Bikes, But The Ego Knows Better. Take One 600cc Sportbike And Make Yourself Comfortable On The Couch

By The Motorcyclist Staff, Photography by Kevin Wing, Dean Groover

600cc Comparo
Fantasies are good for you, even Freud would agree. They make tolerable the dulling grind of gainful employment, make bearable the hellish commute and the vacuous elevator banter. Motorcycles are, undeniably, fantasy machines both for the places they can take you (literally and figuratively, as an object of Freudian projection) and for what they represent as works of mechanical art. Given unlimited funds and equally broad spousal consent, how many of us would opt for just one bike? Nay, the custom four-car garage (with nary a four-wheeler in sight) would house a bodacious collection.

But the reality is a half-a-car garage taken over by nonmaintained lawn implements, cast-off kids' toys and the general detritus of modern life. In the corner, next to the ladders, is your one motorcycle. Statistically, it's likely that it's one of those tested here: a 600cc supersport.

By the raw numbers, the middleweight class owns the sales race, with bikes in this price and displacement category handily outselling halo models like the RC51 or YZF-R1. (Honda sold more than 8000 CBR600F4s last year alone.) Today's middleweights are hugely popular because they're uncommonly versatile. You can take one touring, slog through the daily commute and enjoy the weekend twisty-road thrash. You can afford to buy and insure one. As a rule, 600s aren't as deadly serious as their liter-class stablemates (yet are every bit as capable), and their compact dimensions put them right into the demographic sweet spot where youngsters, the slight-of-build and the fairer sex congregate. Middleweights, in our view, embody the right combination of exhilarating and docile performance, allowing you to relax a bit and enjoy the pace rather than fret over balancing 130 horsepower and knife-edged manners.

This year, we expected to see some of the fiercest competition yet. Triumph's new TT600 has arrived full of the company's hopes and packing high-tech credentials, and Kawasaki's ZX-6R returns substantially upgraded for 2000. We figured these two would give the established class leaders-Honda's CBR600F4, Suzuki's GSX-R600 and Yamaha's YZF-R6-a bloody nose or two. We were partly right. The Triumph succumbed to early bike-itis and returned from surgery too late to be included in the comparison. (See our early impressions on page 54). Kawasaki has, on the other hand, made real progress with its ZX-6R, making this one of the closest, hardest-fought comparison tests we've done. (Jeez, we're saying that a lot lately.)

Suzuki GSX-R600
Introduced in 1997 as a GSX-R750 clone with an all-new 600cc engine, the middleweight GSX-R is the oldest bike here. That is its biggest shortcoming. Unchanged for 2000 save for paint and graphics, it's due for a dramatic redesign next year in the mold of the impressive 2000 GSX-R750. We're hearing of dry weight around 345 pounds and 100-plus horsepower at the rear wheel. Sign us up.

Given the torrid pace in 600 development, you'd think the Suzuki would have been left for dead. Not quite. In fact, the 'Zook finished fourth here mostly on lackluster engine performance. Buzzy and thrashy, the 600's engine produces decent peak horsepower (93.3 hp @ 11,750 rpm), though at the expense of midrange drive. Unless you cane the engine up into five digits, it feels flat and dull. Get caught fleeing your favorite corner in the wrong gear and you'll swear someone has mashed on the rear brake pedal. Although generally well-mannered (our bike was a touch cold-blooded), the GSX-R's engine just doesn't have the broad spread of crisp power that's become the norm in this class. A couple of years ago we'd accept this behavior as a side effect of extracting maximum power-but the field has moved on.

Further down the line, we can begin cutting the Suzuki's powertrain some slack. The clutch is crisp and the gearbox is really very sweet-although our bike, delivered with fewer than 200 miles on the odometer, felt a bit tight. We know the GSX-R has one of the best gearboxes in the business, so no worries here.

If the Suzuki wilts a bit in the steam room, it assuredly comes back to life on the Stairmaster. Although nearly identical to the previous-generation GSX-R750's, the 600's chassis is surely suitable in middleweight guise. Crank the bike along fast roads and you'll be rewarded with a supremely confidence-inspiring ride. Dive for the apex and the bike obediently follows; brake deep into the corner and the GSX-R will complain not a bit. Maintain serious corner speed and the bike yawns. Sure, we noticed the bike's comparatively heavy steering response-similar to the R6's but heavier than the CBR-F4 or ZX-6R's-and that the front brake feels a bit wooden. But the bike's innate competence and bloodhoundlike tenacity to your chosen line make us reconsider the severity of those faults. Besides, the back-of-mind thought was always, "Well, Suzuki will sort it all out for next year."

Suzuki would do well to carry over the 2000 model's suspension qualities. Rough roads will have the bike moving vigorously on the suspension, but this action never runs the bike out of shape and mainly serves to inform you about what the tires are doing. Where some of the more accessible bikes here temper this kind of feedback, the Suzuki lets it through unmolested. What's more, the baseline suspension settings proved close to perfect for riders of varying weights and skill levels. Good stuff front and back.

Even if the GSX-R's engine were as good as the others, it would find itself midpack as an all-around streetbike by dint of its ergonomics package. Yes, we know the racer crouch is perfect for the track, and that firm-but-well-damped suspension is the ticket for backroad strafing, but the combination makes this bike the last choice for a freeway or urban grind. And, yes, we're also cognizant that this poseur crouch continues the rich GSX-R heritage. But against the other bikes here-even the hard-core R6 is more comfortable-the Suzuki begins to seem somewhat out-of-date. Partly to blame is the 750-sized chassis, which puts more distance between the seat and bars than any of the other current 600s.

Ultimately, we're having a hard time getting really worked up over the Suzuki. And that's in part because we can guess what's coming for 2001. As lame ducks go, the GSX-R600 is far from humiliated, but the clock is ticking.

Honda CBR600F4
So much for getting into Honda's hospitality area at the Laguna Seca Champ Car race in September. That's what this kind of upset is all about. Here is the number-one-selling sportbike in America (and most parts of the world) trailing a remade Kawasaki by the absolute thinnest of margins. (You can only imagine the ugliness around here in deciding the second and third order. We're still mopping up.) True enough, the pecking order could fall either way depending on such mundanities as your taste in color or how well your local dealer treats you. We'll say it again: The Honda and Kawasaki finish so close they're almost sharing molecules.

And, besides, what's not to like about the Honda? The CBR's engine produces helpful dollops of midrange power and letter-perfect delivery with a satisfying surge up top to keep the rev-addicts sated. It is not the most powerful here-the Yamaha edges it by just 1.6 hp-but it doesn't feel the least bit slow. Next to the Kawasaki, whose engine feels equally lusty but much more rev-happy, the F4's power delivery seems a bit muted. Not that we're bitching too much about a 600 that directs nearly 100 horses to the rear wheel.

In all ways, the F4 reflects Honda's 13 years of development of the CBR line: Clutch takeup is smooth, the gearbox precise if not exactly silky, and the throttle response is so intuitive that the engine never gives you more or less than you ask for. All told, the CBR is the kind of bike you can hop on and go fast immediately, with complete confidence.

Part of this reassuring nature comes from the chassis. Honda hasn't changed anything for the F4's sophomore year and we're happy to hear that. Start with steering that's both light to the touch yet perfectly weighted. Pushing through tallish clip-ons, you notice that the F4 responds immediately to your inputs but never over-reacts. On our insanely tight test road, where most riders returned from a stint on the GSX-R with wetted brows, the same folks hopped off the CBR with not a hair out of place. That Honda has combined amazing agility in the F4's makeup with nerve-soothing stability truly is noteworthy; the CBR can stay attached to the GSX-R's tail on high-speed sweepers no problemo.

Such unflappability comes despite the CBR-F4's suspension working a lot harder than the Suzuki's or the Yamaha's. Heavier riders, in particular, will notice that the Honda is softly sprung and even bordering on being underdamped. Small pavement irregularities roll more or less unnoticed under the Honda's Michelin Hi-Sports but the larger heaves get the bike into more of a rodeo routine. Jump off the Suzuki or Yamaha and the Honda will feel like it's using much more of its suspension travel a lot more often. Even so, the bike doesn't so much as hint at moving off line. Befitting the bike's midpack finish, the F4's brakes take the middle ground-not as sharp as the Yamaha's but powerful enough to get the job done nicely without fade.

Where the Honda really plucks points is in the real-world derby. The seating position is bliss-just the right seat-bar-peg relationship to foster good highway posture, but also usable for back-road shenanigans. The engine buzzes slightly through the pegs and bars but not obtrusively. The seat is ideally shaped and firmly padded, and the fairing, though criticized as looking bland, offers surprisingly good wind and weather protection-and the interior is very well finished. Heck, you can even see something in the mirrors.

Maybe we're smitten with the F4 because, even as Honda has brought the bike closer to being the ideal 600 Supersport platform, it hasn't stripped the bike of the qualities that make it a superb daily driver. If ever there were a bike that perfectly balanced the directly contradictory needs of daily street and weekend back-road riding, the CBR600F4 is it.

Kawasaki ZX-6R
Hail the new king of real-world, all-around 600s. Kawasaki has unseated the Honda-again, by a credit-card-thin margin-by doing much of what the F4 does well, only a little bit better. Take that glorious chunk of engine. It's every bit and more the Honda's match for refinement, with superb throttle response, not a hint of cold-bloodedness and a silken nature that makes you think every moving part has been obsessively pared and balanced. Plus, the thing emits a grin-inducing growl under acceleration that no other bike here can hope to emulate.

Although the 6R feels happier snarling around a couple of grand higher than the Honda, it doesn't need that kind of treatment to make good headway. It's just that sound...how can you resist? You're never aware of having to spin the ZX-6R hard, only of a seamless supply of power that moves the bike down the road with sublime ease. Its nondramatic transition from midrange to top-end yowl reminds us a bit of the Honda, but the 6R winds up quicker and seems much more at home with the tach needle brushing the redline. Down in the drivetrain it's more good news, with the Kawasaki possessing a light-action gearbox with perfectly selected ratios (albeit a bit shorter than the Honda's) and very little lash.

Kawasaki lavished as much attention on the ZX-6R's chassis this year as it did on the engine, with similarly good results. Although the bike feels soft compared with the Suzuki or Yamaha, it's very close to the Honda in terms of feel and back-road capabilities. With a slightly wider seat/tank interface, the 6R initially feels bulkier than the Honda (and particularly chunkier than the svelte Yamaha), but the impression fades as you attack the curves. Kawasaki redistributed the 6R's weight a bit but the bike retains its light steering (lowest effort of these four, but a touch heavier than the Triumph's) and willingness to transition quickly. Here's another one, along with the Honda, on which you could make good time sitting flat-assed on the seat.

We increased damping levels on the 6R's front and rear suspension from the baseline (up to about two-thirds of maximum compression damping and three-quarters of max rebound) to help settle the ride a bit. Our faster and heavier testers noted the 6R's tendency to feel a bit loose over rough pavement and after especially violent transitions. (This was most noticeable coming off the Yamaha or Suzuki, and less so after riding the CBR.) All else being equal, the Kawasaki moved around on its suspension slightly more than the CBR, but this motion never resulted in the chassis doing anything untoward.

Give the Honda a quarter-point advantage in suspension development, then, and trade it back for the Kawasaki's superior brakes. The six-piston fronts feel hugely improved over last year and are nearly the equal of the Yamaha's class-leading components but a significant step ahead of the Honda's or Suzuki's.

Trading points like this continues until you start counting for commuting and touring. Here the Kawasaki pulls ahead with the smoothest engine in 600-land, large, clear mirrors, handsome instruments with a clock you can see all the time and perfectly rational ergonomics. The ZX-6R's bars are the slightest bit lower than the CBR's but you've got more legroom. Seats compare favorably, though some riders complained that the Kaw's forward tilt pushed them against the tank too boldly.

In the end, we decided the Honda and the Kawasaki traded punches across the categories almost to a tie. But we're suckers for personality, and it's the 6R's rev-happy engine and aggressive appearance (some would say outlandish) that put its jutting-lip ram-air snout an inch or so ahead of the Honda's more feline countenance.

Yamaha YZF-R6
Normally, we lean toward rewarding bikes that provide us the right all-around ride. Maybe our old backs and creaky knees are less willing than ever to suffer racer-rep ergos, who's to say? But there was unanimous praise and agreement that the Yamaha should finish on top. It boils down to this: While the R6 definitely trails the CBR and ZX in comfort and civility, the degree to which it is a more capable and thrilling sportbike is on the far side of two-to-one. A concept that came up repeatedly, headroom, best describes the R6's dominance.

By the second or third corner you realize that the R6 feels like it's carved from billet, a solid chunk of motorcycle that has no excess, no flab. It seems low and stout and as true as a DC-3 wing spar. Not a single movement-neither at the handlebars, footpegs, throttle grip or brake lever-is wasted in flex or displacing nonfunctional mass. You move, the bike moves. There are very few machines that react with the kind of immediacy and honesty as the R6.

That said, it's not a beginner's tool. For one thing, the steering requires more effort than the Honda's or Kawasaki's, despite the Yamaha having the most aggressive geometry of the group. You don't sit there and quietly suggest that the R6 might want to begin making for the apex-nope, you grab it by the scruff and make your commands clear. And even during the most aggressive riding, when you're tossing the bike over to heretofore frightening lean angles as quickly and rapidly as you can summon the strength, the R6 almost seems to glance back and say, "Is that all ya got?"

A stiff chassis is nothing without the right suspension components, and the Yamaha has the best in the class by a generous margin. It is sprung for serious duty, so lighter riders will occasionally find the ride a touch taut. But something revealing occurs as you wick up the pace. What was once slightly unresponsive becomes super-composed, and the R6 merely glides over stutter bumps, tree trunks and ski jumps as though rolling across the garage floor. At the same pace that would have the Honda and Kawasaki feeling unsettled and ready to think about crying uncle, the R6 is begging for more.

So you get carried away and plunge too deep into far too-tight a corner. Simple solution: Stand on the best brakes in the 600 class. Yamaha has no doubt grown weary of praise for these four-piston binders, but we'll risk it. Few brakes combine the rapid ramp-up of the R6's with fine and subtle feedback. Too soon, you start to think you could hold the front tire at the edge of adhesion from terminal velocity down to a crawl.

Part of the velocity equation is the R6's stellar powerplant. We'll freely admit that it's not the smoothest here; that the low-speed carburetion could be improved, particularly below 4000 rpm; and that the gearbox need not be as balky in the first three gears. But there ends our cavils. Sneak over to the dyno chart and take in those numbers. (Go ahead, we'll wait.) Notice the breadth of that high-rpm surge? See how it holds on to peak power over a wider range than the others? There's the key to the R6's ability to make acceleration both electrifying and nonchalant. Forget to row over to exactly the right gear for the corner? Don't worry, the R6 will scramble up the horsepower plot-even though it looks soft on the dyno chart-thanks to the R6's low weight. Require a few extra revs to eliminate a midcorner change of gear? Same deal; let it rev past the peak and no one's the wiser.

Are we so addled by the Yamaha's twisty-road and racetrack capabilities that we're blind to its foibles? Not quite, but we're really close. The more-raceresque riding position will tax the less-limber among us, and the diminutive fairing provides scant protection. You won't know there's a motor cop behind you until he taps you on the shoulder for all the good those mirrors do. So, no, the Yamaha YZF-R6 is not the best all-around, do-everything middleweight on the market-the Kawasaki and Honda vie for that honor. But the R6 is, without question, the most backroad- and track-capable, most exhilarating 600 in the land. And you don't even have to fantasize about a bulging bank account to own one.

TT Trouble
Engine Glitches Sideline Triumph's TT600

Just before lunch on the first day of back-road testing, our Triumph TT600 test bike began making ugly and expensive noises. The kind of engine noises that makes us and Triumph nervous. (For details see "Doin' Time.")

It's dangerous to pass judgment on a motorcycle without extensive testing, but because we were able to get a decent amount of commuting miles (and some back-road time) on our TT, we feel like we can blithely venture onto such soft and treacherous ground.

Initial impressions reveal that there's a considerable difference between the bikes Marc Cook rode at the world press launch last month (see our First Ride, July 2000) and our American-spec tester. Mainly, the differences center on the engine's low-speed behavior-not something we got much of a chance to sample on the racetrack or the rapid French-back-road flog. Stateside, though, the bike's throttle response below 4000 rpm, which we would categorize as the worst we've seen on a streetbike in a long while, made us wonder if we didn't get a bum test bike. So it was returned to Triumph's U.S. test-fleet coordinator, who pronounced it healthy before the breakdown.

From idle to 4000 rpm, the TT600 is wheezy and inconsistent, with a serious flat-spot between 3000 and 4000 rpm. It's singularly cold-blooded, too, a characteristic made worse by the lack of a fast-idle control-everything's automated by the injection computer. Once past the 4000-rpm threshold, the TT springs to life and hustles up through a decent but not class-leading midrange surge. Up top, between 10,000 rpm and the 14,000-rpm redline, the TT's massively oversquare engine puts out competitive power. (We'll know how competitive when we get the TT to a dyno.) Unfortunately, throttle-response is semiabrupt and not particularly well-sorted, making us wonder if the lack of fuel injection in 600s is not an oversight by the others.

Chassis-wise, the TT fares better. It's amazingly quick-turning, able to change directions minutely faster than even the best in the class (F4 and ZX-6R), with unquestionably the lowest effort. If you like power steering on your car, you'll love the TT. (Unfortunately, the bike broke before we moved to our ultratwisty test road.) You'd expect to give up stability for such maneuverability, but the TT remains solid at triple-digit speeds-though it was a touch more unsettled after quick-flick transitions than the stellar GSX-R and R6. We'll also praise the bike's four-piston front brakes for their huge power and good (but not great) feedback; even so, our test bike's discs were starting to smear a bit from the aggressive pads.

Maybe our early production TT600 is just an anomaly, a poor-running example of what is otherwise a fine sporting motorcycle. We'll see when we get the bike (or another one like it) back from Triumph. We want to love this bike and welcome Triumph into this diabolically difficult class. But we can't-at least not yet.

Supersport Showdown
The Stopwatch Says Who's Fast And Who's Not On The Streets Of Willow
Conventional wisdom says that the best bike for the street is not often the best on the track. Then again, sometimes it is. Naturally, you need predictable behavior on the street and a smidgen of stability doesn't hurt anything. But as you push for ultimate velocities on a closed course, certain limitations that never emerge on the street begin to appear. Greatly simplified, to go fast a bike needs lots of cornering clearance, buttoned-down suspension, gobs of power and strong brakes. Every performance measurement is taken to the extreme, and what might be fine on the street could be woefully inadequate on the track. At the Streets of Willow with soft-spoken but blisteringly fast Sport Rider Associate Editor Andrew Trevitt pulling the wire, we discovered that the winner on the real roads need not be the loser at the Streets.

Honda CBR600F4 best time: 1:14.08
Trevitt summed it up like this: "Basically, in right turns you just lay it over on the pipe and go." So defines the CBR's main racetrack limitation-cornering clearance. The last time we compared 600s on the track (April 1999), Honda took exception to the control tires fitted (Michelin Hi-Sport Race 3s), claiming, correctly, that a smaller-diameter tire would hinder cornering clearance. This year we fitted Metzeler's new ME-Z3 Rennsport gumballs to all four bikes, which, on the F4, are taller overall than the stock Michelin Hi Sports. The combo gave the bike slightly more cornering clearance, but the tires didn't do enough; Trevitt's best time on the Honda was a whopping 1.92 seconds slower than the best bike here.

Otherwise, the F4 jammed around the track just fine. The light steering we witnessed on the street turns a touch sluggish when really rapid transitions were needed at the track, and the CBR's generally soft suspension had the bike moving around quite a bit. It's a fine streetbike and would make a decent track bike for mere mortals, but it trails this pack by a significant margin.

Suzuki GSX-R600 best time: 1:13.28
Just eight-tenths of a second ahead of the CBR but more than a second adrift of the top-placed Yamaha, the GSX-R600 was a bit of a surprise on the track. For their shortcomings as all-around streetbikes, the GSX-Rs usually make up big ground at the track. Chassis-wise, the 600 is no exception, being able to maintain high corner speeds and drive undramatically from even tight, bumpy corners. It was beginning to run out of cornering clearance as Trevitt began working at the limits, but it was nothing like the spark-shedding Honda. With high-caliber suspension and racer-perfect ergos, the Suzuki feels well at home on the Streets circuit. It says something that Trevitt's best and worst times were only slightly more than a second apart.

As in the real world, the GSX-R's engine let it down on the track. "You can make time through the corners," said Trevitt, "but when you roll it on for the exit, there's just nothing there." With more bite to go with the bark, we'd expect the GSX-R to be nipping at the Yamaha's heels. Maybe next year.

Kawasaki ZX-6R best time: 1:12.56
Here's another surprise from the stopwatch. We fully expected the ZX-6R to be in the same class as the Honda at the track-good but not great, and trailing the more track-oriented Suzuki and Yamaha. We'll have our crow now, Miss, with a nice dijonnaise on the side, please. Trevitt hopped off the 6R, shrugged his shoulders and said, "It moves around a bit and isn't very stable, but it's got some motor, eh?" Indeed, the Kaw ripped from corner to corner with a kind of aggression that's noticeable from 100 yards away.

It's not exactly like the chassis is one big boat anchor, either. Less composed at a ten-tenths pace than either the Suzuki or the Yamaha, the Kawasaki suffered from too much high-speed compression damping and too little of the low-speed variety. It closed the gap mainly with highly usable power and top-notch brakes. With suspension modifications, the ZX-6R could be a world beater.

Yamaha YZF-R6 best time: 1:12.17
"With the other bikes," said young Trevitt, "there's usually something holding you back, something you have to ride around. On the Yamaha the limiting factor is you." Combine class-leading peak power and at least 1500 rpm more headroom than any of the others and you've got the YZF-R6 scorcher. Trevitt rated the ZX-6R slightly ahead of the Yamaha for its better midrange lunge, but at the track, where you can plan to keep the peakier R6 on the boil, it's not a great difference.

The R6's engine may be among the best for track use, but its chassis is clearly superior. Plentiful cornering clearance, first-rate suspension componentry and powerful brakes combine to make the R6 a circuit-killer. Heavier steering effort, a mild annoyance on the street, was a nonissue on the track because the light, short R6 could carve a tighter line and stay on course under conditions that would have the other bikes coming unglued. As Trevitt said, you never feel like you're working around some shortcoming-how fast you go is entirely up to you. The R6 is there to please.

Ergos Explained
In"Voyage of the Beagle," Charles Darwin was just starting to clue into his theory of natural selection that he let flower in "The Origin of Species." So try not to mind as we evolve our own ergonomic templates and measurement processes. After some extended noodling, we've decided to slightly alter the way we measure the seat-to-bar distances. Rather than from a central point in the middle of the seat, this measurement is taken seven inches off the centerline of the bike. This provides a more realistic indication of the reach to the bars.

In addition, we've added a new measurement called handlebar rise. This linear figure gives you the distance the handlebars are above or, God help our backs, below the level of the seat. For clarity, we've removed the third leg (from the bars to the pegs) of the seating triangle.

Specifications

Honda CBR600F4 Kawasaki ZX-6R Suzuki GSX-R600 Yamaha YZF-R6
MSRP $7899 $8099 $7849 $7999
ENGINE
Type liquid-cooled inline-four liquid-cooled inline-four liquid-cooled inline-four liquid-cooled inline-four
Valve arrangement dohc, 16v dohc,16v dohc, 16v dohc, 16v
Bore x stroke 67.0 x 42.5mm 66.0 x 43.8mm 65.5 x 44.5mm 65.5 x 44.5mm
Displacement 599cc 599cc 600cc 599cc
Compression ratio 12.0:1 12.8:1 12.0:1 12.4:1
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
Final drive #525 chain #525 chain #525 chain #525 chain

CHASSIS
Weight 436 lb. (wet) 434 lb. (wet) 447 lb. (wet) 425 lb. (wet)
407 lb. (tank empty) 405 lb. (tank empty) 418 lb. (tank empty) 398 lb. (tank empty)
Fuel capacity 4.5 gal. (17L) 4.8 gal. (18L) 4.8 gal. (18L) 4.5 gal. (17L)
Rake/trail 24.0 deg./3.8 in. 23.5 deg./3.6 in. 24.0 deg./3.8 in. 24.0 deg./3.2 in.
(96mm) (91mm) (96mm) (81mm)
Wheelbase 54.7 in. (1389mm) 55.1 in. (1400mm) 54.7 in. (1389mm) 54.4 in. (1382mm)
Seat height 31.9 in. (810mm) 32.1 in. (815mm) 32.7 in. (831mm) 32.8 in. (833mm)
SUSPENSION
Front 43mm cartridge fork 46mm cartridge fork 45mm cartridge fork 43mm cartridge fork
adjustable for spring adjustable for spring adjustable for spring adjustable for spring
preload, compression preload, compression preload, compression preload, compression
and rebound damping and rebound damping and rebound damping and rebound damping
Rear single shock adjustable single shock adjustable single shock adjustable single shock adjustable
for spring preload and for spring preload, ride for spring preload and for spring preload and
rebound damping height, compression rebound damping rebound damping
and rebound damping
Tire, front 120/70ZR17 120/65ZR17 120/70ZR17 120/60ZR17
Michelin Hi-Sport Dunlop D207 Dunlop D207 Dunlop D207
Tire, rear 180/55ZR17 180/55ZR17 180/55ZR17 180/55ZR17
Michelin Hi-Sport Dunlop D207 Dunlop D207 Dunlop D207
PERFORMANCE
Corrected 1/4-mile* 11.61 sec. @ 115.9 mph 11.38 sec. @ 120.5 mph 11.47 sec. @ 119.9 mph 11.23 sec. @ 123.2 mph
0–60 mph 3.44 sec. 3.61 sec. 3.66 sec. 3.47 sec.
0–100 mph 8.00 sec. 8.26 sec. 8.32 sec. 7.78 sec.
Top-gear roll-on,
60–80 mph 6.76 sec. 5.26 sec. 5.41 sec. 5.29 sec.
Fuel mileage
(low/high/average) 36/48/41 35/47/43 36/42/39 34/40/38
Cruising range
(excluding reserve) 152 miles 168 miles 156 miles 141 miles
Performance with test-session weather conditions corrected to sea-level standard conditions (59 degrees F, 29.92 in. of mercury)

Cheers & Jeers
BIKE/SCORE  
HONDA KAWASAKI SUZUKI YAMAHA VERDICT
Engine 9 9 7 8 Honda is supremely flexible; Kawasaki is the smoothest and "snarliest" while the R6 rules the top-end
Drivetrain 9 9 8 8 Slick gearbox salvages Suzuki's score; Yamaha could be more refined; CBR and 6R almost faultless
Handling 8 8 9 10 All really good. High-effort steering keeps the R6 from getting a 10; F4 and 6R most user-friendly
Braking 8 9 7 10 R6's stoppers are peerless and the Kaw's much improved for 2000. GSX-R's are wooden and high-effort
Ride 8 9 8 9 Kawasaki has best compromise of comfort and control; R6 is the most buttoned-down for hard riding
Ergonomics 10 9 7 8 CBR and 6R make comfy couches, with everything in the right place. R6 is serious but not crippling
Features 8 9 8 8 Clocks and bungee hooks, we love'em and the Kaw's got them all. Suzuki and Honda seem a bit old tech
Refinement 9 8 7 9 Typical Honda attention to detail but the Yamaha is hot on its heels. Kawasaki is raising its game
Value 9 9 8 10 What's not to love in this competitive class? Suzuki will redress the situation next year
Fun factor 8 9 7 10 Max Headroom-R6 never fails to amaze; Kaw snarls like a dragster. Honda seems staid in this group
Overall* 8 8 7 9 R6 is best sportbike and not uncomfortable enough to hurt its score; CBR and ZX-6R great all-arounders

*Overall rating is independent and not derived from category scores.

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