Suzuki SV650S And Kawasaki ZX-6R - Tweaks 2001!

All-new models hog the spotlight, but there's much to celebrate in mildly reworked bikes in the 2001 checkout line. As we went to press, not all the products were on the shelves, nor were many of the barcodes in place, so don't ask us how much these things are gonna cost. Press deadlines also mean that Honda's not represented here, but look for all the latest information on Big Red's 2001 wares in the "New Bikes 2001" feature on page 40.

Good news, bad news from Suzuki. As you'll see elsewhere in this issue, we are indeed getting the light, hot GSX-R600 and 1000 (that would be the really good news) but, contrary to some rumors, we are not going to see a TL1000-engined naked model for 2001. (Oh, and we wanted it so badly.) Still, there's plenty of good reason for V-twin fans to cheer, as the SV650S, a half-faired iteration of our favorite middleweight boomer, will finally come Stateside. Sporting a racier riding stance thanks to clip-ons replacing the naked SV's tubular affair, taller gearing and slightly revised steering geometry, the SV-S we get will be identical to the bike Europeans and Canadians have enjoyed for two years. Cool, eh? The naked SV650 returns unchanged, as do the Bandit 600, Katanas 600 and 750 and TL1000s S and R.

Kawasaki's engineers were sufficiently busy last year, what with the ZX-12R's launch and worthwhile modifications to the ZX-6R and ZX-9R, to have earned themselves a vacation of sorts this year. For the most part it's tweaks and minor updates for the 2001 lineup. The potent ZX-6R is now offered in two new colors (a candy blue, and yellow/black combo) in addition to the green/black flag motif from last year, while the ZX-12R is available in silver in addition to the nuclear green of 2000-the color red is dead. There are no mechanical changes for either bike. (And no word of a ZX-7R replacement, nor confirmation that it's even in the 2001 lineup. Hmmm.) Kawasaki's unabashedly Bonneville-like (and tremendously popular) W650 retrocruiser is improved with revised steering geometry and front suspension components. (We're still waiting for the kit to make it leak oil.) The Vulcan 1500 Nomad receives a larger (five-gallon) fuel tank, repositioned steering lock (no more contortionist measures) and new colors. The 1500 Drifter gets a five-gallon tank (up from 4.2), new color combinations, standard solo seat, and more chrome, while its little brother, the 800, receives a similar solo seat and a more lavish application of chrome.