The Bike That Got Away: Mel Gantly’s 2001 Suzuki GSX-R600

“I knew my old Gixxer wouldn't even be close to competitive with the newest 600s, so I sold it and bought a 2001 GSX-R600.”

Readers Rides: Suzuki GSX-R600
2001 Suzuki GSX-R600
Owner: Mel Gantly
©Motorcyclist

Editor's note: Tell us your story! Send us plenty of words (“Why You Bought It, Why You Sold It, Why You Wished You Still Had It”) and a few good photos of the bike and if we use your submission, we’ll send you a magnificent Motorcyclist t-shirt and some other random swag. Email your submissions to: mcmail@bonniercorp.com

Why I Bought It: I had just finished two seasons of regional road racing on a '97 Suzuki GSX-R600, which to put it mildly was rough around the edges, and I suspect was running on only three cylinders. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to ride it to several podium finishes in the Novice class, as well as a third in Heavyweight Superbike in my first race with an Intermediate license. I was a contributing writer to Cycle Canada magazine at the time, and my editor Neil Graham asked me to write a feature about racing on a budget, citing my own experiences. When the article was published I received an e-mail from Colin Fraser, organizer of the Canadian national road racing championship, saying he enjoyed the story and offered me sponsorship support in the Amateur 600 national round at the Calgary, Alberta, round the following season, if I could get myself and a machine to the race.

I knew my old Gixxer wouldn't even be close to competitive with the newest 600s, so I sold it and bought a 2001 GSX-R600. It was on the old side, but in much better shape than my previous ride, and would at least give me a shot at a somewhat respectable finish (and if it didn't, it would still be a good story). I'd also always wanted to race at the Isle of Man TT, so getting to race at a national round would hopefully help me learn about what it takes - skill-wise and financially - to compete on a higher level.

Why I Sold It: Several months after buying the new race bike, my life required a change in perspective, and racing goals and dreams became the lowest of priorities. It was clear that racing would not be a productive or realistic venture for some time to come, so I put the bike in storage with the hope that I might be able to return to the track at some point in the future.

However, a year passed and the bike remained sitting in my friend's garage, when out of the blue someone inquired about purchasing the bike, if I was willing to sell it. As I knew it would still be some time before I would pursue racing again, I took his offer. He got a damn good deal: the bike, a brand-new set of rain tires and my track stands, all for $500 less than I paid for it the previous year.

Why I Wished I Still Had It: It's now been about four years since I sold that Suzuki, and almost every day I look at the one photo I have of it, taken in my garage the day I brought it home when I'd started it up, ridden it up and down the street a few times. But that's as far as I ever got. I never took it to the race track. I'm once again full of ambition to race at the Isle of Man, more specifically the Manx Grand Prix, even as I close in on age 50. I've already had a generous offer of a bike to race at the event in 2017, but before then I have to get some races under my belt again in the hopes of qualifying for the ACU, FIM and Mountain Course licenses. After all, they don't let just anyone race the famous Mountain Course.

I still have my riding gear, but even now it will be a challenge to fund even a modest race season, and if I still had that GSX-R, that would make the prospect a much less expensive proposition now. As we know, though, it's pointless to look back with regret. If racing on the Isle of Man is still as important to me as I believe it has always been, there will be a way to make it happen, and a new race bike to fall in love with and to help me achieve that goal. Who knows, maybe the one that got away will find its way home again? Stranger things have happened...

RELATED: