Table of contents
- The end of the 600 super athletes Over and over!
- In 1998 over 12,000 600cc athletes were sold
- Development costs between 200,000 and 500,000 euros
- Volume regulations
- Euro 5 norm even stricter from 2020
- 600 approvals
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End of the 600 super athletes
The end of the 600 super athletes
Over and over!
2016 was the last model year in which almost every major well-known manufacturer still had a 600 super sports car in its range. The end of the 2016 season meant the end of the class.
At Honda, the signs have been growing for a long time, Suzuki and Kawasaki just didn’t want to comment officially and at Triumph the sparrows whistled from the rooftops beforehand: In 2017 these four manufacturers will stop production of their Supersport 600s – some completely, others at least for Europe. The CBR 600 RR, GSX-R 600, ZX-6R and Daytona 675 are history. There is a simple reason that this dance of death of the once so successful class takes place in 2017 of all places. It’s called Euro 4. The investment costs involved and the comparatively miserable sales figures are incompatible.
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If we first look at the sales figures for the past 25 years, then the 600 series were once a real force in terms of manufacturers’ sales. They invested heavily in their super sports cars, and anyone who did not bring a model update every two years was in danger of being left behind – in a class that was worthwhile.
In 1998 over 12,000 600cc athletes were sold
In 1998, over 12,000 Supersport 600s were sold in Germany alone. More than ever before or since. In the years immediately before and after, the number was almost always in the five-digit range. In 2003 it was almost 10,000 units, but until 2007 it was still enough for over 8,000 units per year. The legendary Honda CBR 600 F still holds the record in its class in this country with 3,800 units in 1996.
Today, all 600 manufacturers together no longer sell 700 units a year. In other European countries, things look even darker for the 600s. While there is generally a lack of young motorcycle riders in Germany, economic difficulties associated with high youth unemployment have dried up the 600 market in southern Europe, where the smaller athletes were very popular with the younger generation.
Development costs between 200,000 and 500,000 euros
Not good prerequisites for advancing development. In view of the Euro 4 regulations, high investments have been made since January 1, 2017 in order to be able to resell the vehicles at all. But does this investment still pay off, especially for the 600 class? PS has researched with the manufacturers which investments are exactly necessary for a Euro 4 super sports car. Nobody really wanted to look into their cards, but a development engineer in Italy sent us some figures.
Three important areas are affected by the Euro 4 regulations, namely exhaust gas, noise and the outgassing of fuel. The level of development of the current motorcycle is fundamentally decisive for the level of costs in these areas, so it already has ride-by-wire, for example. In this way, the costs of emissions, for example, can be contained compared to motorcycles that do not yet have state-of-the-art electronics. With ride-by-wire, changed timing and a new exhaust system, the Euro 4 standard can be achieved with manageable effort – albeit mostly associated with a loss of performance. Nevertheless, such development costs quickly amount to 200,000 to 500,000 euros.
The volume regulations have a major impact on the engine and the entire vehicle. The Euro 4 test procedures for homologation include engine speeds, vehicle weight and acceleration. To put it in a simple formula: The easiest way to achieve Euro 4 noise regulations would be to have little horsepower with a high vehicle weight but a lot of torque at low speeds. However, this is not a good idea when developing a sharp 600. That is why the development of the super sport class particularly affects the points of intake, engine and exhaust noise, as well as mechanical noises, for example from the chain. And that can, under certain circumstances, break through the 1.5 million mark in development costs.
“Nowadays there are hardly any good arguments for buying a 600” Gerhard Lindner, S 1000 RR project manager at BMW.
The necessary installation of a carbon filter canister, which filters out the escaping gasoline vapors, is comparatively cheap. 600 models that have already been delivered to California have this component a lot longer, you just have to extend this measure to all vehicles. But even the software updates with partly now prescribed display options for consumption and thus new displays eats up development money again and beats a small manufacturer of 600s such as Triumph or MV Agusta again with around 50,000 euros. And last but not least, the testing procedures and approval must also be paid for. That costs another 150,000 euros. According to this, a manufacturer would have to spend almost 2.5 million euros on this development alone.
In view of the sales figures for 600 super sports cars around the world, and especially in Europe, that is a huge amount that manufacturers would have to pass on to customers. The vehicles would be correspondingly expensive. But they already are.
One of the most frequently cited arguments why sports motorcycle fans would rather opt for a 1000cc machine than a 600cc machine is the marginal price difference compared to the performance offered. “Performance is a strong selling point for super athletes,” explains Gerhard Lindner, project manager for the S 1000 RR at BMW. However, the German supersport champion from 1992 does not see the end of the 600s as dramatic. “The 1000s have become so mobile today that there are no big arguments for buying a 600, either on the road or on the racetrack, which then costs almost the same.”
“Today you can put every Teletubby on a 1000cc machine, and you’ll be fine” Jorg Teuchert, ex-Supersport world champion.
Jorg Teuchert sees it similarly. The ex-Supersport world champion thinks it’s a shame that the 600s are disappearing because they offer a lot of driving fun, especially on the racetrack. “But today you can put every Teletubby on a 1000, and it’s going to be fine,” says Teuchert. “As an instructor, I can see what mistakes people make. Nevertheless, they stay seated. That would have gone wrong in the past, which is why it was always said: Learn to drive with a 600, then you can climb to the 1000. “
The previously logical route via the 600 to the Superbike classes will probably not be around for long in sporting terms either. A development that Thomas Kohler, coordinator of the Yamaha Cup, sees with concern: “You don’t go straight from kindergarten to high school either. I miss the step from the really small classes of youngsters to the superbikes when the 600s are missing. “
How long the Supersport World Championships will run at all is then the big question. Without many different manufacturers, this racing series loses its attractiveness. As the rights holder, Dorna is currently holding back with an assessment. Nationally, however, the 600 class is almost dead. In the IDM, there are only 15 permanently registered pilots starting in Stock 600.
Since the machines are no longer or only partially further developed, 600 pilots could in future fall back on existing racing motorcycles and drive the “old” models or order non-European models for sport. Suzuki, for example, builds the GSX-R 600 still unchanged for the US market, which still wants 600s.
“Without the super sport class, there would be a gap to the superbikes” Thomas Kohler, Yamaha Cup coordinator.
However, if you also see the purpose of the racing class in the fact that near-series models should be attractive to customers through racing victories, the house of cards collapses. So will there soon only be 1000s as a near-series racing class? “For me, the difference between Stock 1000 and open superbikes makes the most sense,” says Gerhard Lindner. “This can also save costs, as the motorcycles are quick to get out of the box. To build a properly running 600 is comparatively very complex. If you want to take the next step from the Stock 1000, you can turn these motorcycles into real superbikes. “
Yamaha and MV Agusta will be alone from 2017, because only these two brands will offer new, Euro 4-compliant 600s. Will the Moto2 class in Grand Prix racing then also have to switch from the 600cc Honda engines to other makes? Honda is likely to be building the donor CBR 600 RR Completely discontinue from next year. “We have an engine contract with Honda for Moto2 until the end of 2018,” said Danny Aldridge, technical director of the MotoGP World Championship, to PS. “We would like to extend and are in talks with Honda, but we are also examining the possibilities with other manufacturers.”
Euro 5 norm even stricter from 2020
But there is already a threat of new adversity beyond 2018, because the Euro 5 standard is expected to come in 2020 with even stricter regulations for exhaust gas, electronics management and noise emissions. Will the market still produce enough sales for this further investment despite the current shortage of manufacturers in the 600 series? “Ultimately, buying behavior controls the market,” says Jorg Teuchert, and that is why the continued existence of the 600 class as we know it today can definitely be doubted in the period after 2020.
The bikes that the market has to offer may then simply be the up-grading classes for racing. The old idea of “Win on sunday, sell on monday” would then gain weight again. Then motorcycles like a Honda CBR 650 F could fill the gap. After all, the European Junior Cup is already driving thrilling races with the inexpensive everyday offshoot of the expensive CBR 600 RR. The F also sells even better than the radical RR race iron. 436 pieces of the machine, which is 4,000 euros cheaper at 8,290 euros, were ordered from dealers in 2015. Perhaps the manufacturers will find a way to use the fully developed super sports motors to build Euro 4-compatible, everyday motorcycles for little money – with which you can then also race cheaply. This is how it started with the Supersport 600s, and it does not mean: “Those who have been told dead live longer”?
600 new registrations.
The statistics make the whole dilemma visible: in twelve years the lost Yamaha YZF-R6 As a top seller in the 600 class, almost 90 percent of the approvals. MV Agusta and Triumph (the Daytona 675) did not offer their 600s until well after 2004 and therefore only appear in the diagram with the sales figures from last year. For Kawasaki, the difference in displacement is listed. While the importer speaks of 96 636s sold in 2014, the KBA registered 126 approvals in the same year (this could also have been machines from the year of construction 2013).
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