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Comparative test of the super sporty 600 series, part 2


Last groove and full of gas? When comparing the racetrack, there is no pardon for the 600 super athletes.

The place and time for the shootout couldn’t be better. Right in the middle of the race training on the French track L ?? Ring Rhine, where the amateur knee sliders have fun in circles for days, the MOTORRAD crew rolled onto the track. Most important man on the field: test driver Markus Barth, lightning fast racing professional and responsible for the lap times. Because in part two of the comparison test, nobody asks about light, wind protection or consumption anymore, today it’s all about the nitty-gritty: Which bike brings the best performance on the slopes? Soled throughout with Pirelli Supercorsa in SC 2 compound and identical dimensions (120/70 ZR 17 front, 180/55 ZR 17 rear), the standard tires no longer play a role. So that the relatively cold asphalt does not tear the rubber into fibrous pieces after a few laps, all tires are preheated to around 50 degrees. And now put the tire warmers down, let’s go.
Honda CBR 600 F.
The good thing first: Hardly any other 600cc athlete peps across the track as good-naturedly, brakes reliably, steers effortlessly and directly, making brisk racing track cycling child’s play. The transmission also plays along, shifting lightly and precisely in the truest sense of the word. Tea downside of the Honda: Anyone who demands more than 95 percent race track performance has reached their limits. Especially the shock absorber of this test machine is pretty quick at the end of its damping Latin. The rear wheel occasionally loses its grip in jagged lean changes on undulating asphalt, the rear pumping uneasily. The more the rear is raised using the spring base adjustment, the more dramatic the loss of grip on bumps is noticeable. The better solution: Extend the fork of the strut mount by placing washers under it by around six millimeters or mount an accessory part and leave the preload at position 3.
Hard on the brakes, the Honda kneels at the front, lurches slightly, but manageable. If the brisk rider uses the mighty Pirelli grip to the maximum, the pegs are short and small. And one more problem: The CBR injection engine was never known to be as weak and powerless as this one. Good Markus can turn and press as he wants, the clock stops at 1: 22.4 minutes.
Kawasaki ZX-6R 636
Doped with 36 cm3 displacement, the Kawasaki climbs into the ring. From a purely sporting point of view, the red card would have to be drawn due to the supersport regulations, but because nobody in the hobby racing driver camp asks about it, the matter is clear. Always at the forefront when it comes to handling, the new Kawasaki also does a great job. The 636 unabashedly plays off the successful mix of playful handiness and high-torque motor, especially in the tight labyrinth of curves of the Rhein-Ring. It’s nice that the Kawasaki technicians have also optimized the adjustment range of the fork and shock absorber so that now a full damping behavior ensures stability. Small downer: Abrupt grabbing of the excellent and by far the best six-piston brakes in the field still causes a slight tremor in the front end, which, however, quickly subsides and does not degenerate into malicious brake stamping.
Back to the engine. In direct comparison to the established 600 series, the displacement advantage is also clearly noticeable on the racing circuit. Passages in which the six-speed gearbox, which can be easily and precisely shifted, does not fit perfectly, is covered by the powerful 636 engine with the left – or better right, with the throttle grip. A small disadvantage compared to the real 600s can only be seen in the revving ability of the drilled out Kawasaki engine. The bottom line is that the ZX-6R, which in terms of seating position and comfort is clearly more geared towards everyday suitability than racing, achieved the third-best time on the floor with 1.21.3 minutes.
Triumph TT 600
After multiple optimization of the injection and ignition of the TT 600, the drawbacks in the pulling power have clearly improved compared to the first series. But the English have still not managed to catch up with the competition. Doesn’t matter, you might think, on the race track there is only heating along the limiter anyway. However, the practice is different. The standard long gear ratio of the 600 forces a certain amount of torque and pressure from the center on the race track. Nothing in the Triumph, nothing works here. If you want to move forward, you have to switch whatever it takes. One thing that isn’t exactly a pleasure with the rather bony gear.
The chassis already has more to offer. With a tight race track set-up, the Triumph copes with the curves, hairpin bends and bumps of the Rheinring without any significant problems. This is more likely due to the hard, rough load change reactions of the injector when the engine kicks in jerkily when the gas is drawn up in tricky lean positions. The braking system on the front wheel is no less brutal. With a brutal effect, but without the sensitive controllability that you need to brake deep into the corners. In addition, the more touristy than sporty seating position doesn’t give you the feeling of an agile racer, even if there is nothing to complain about the Triumph’s handiness. Real sports motorcycles just feel different. Fuller, more direct, more grippy. Small consolation: With 1: 22.10 minutes, the Triumph at least leather off the ailing Honda CBR 600 F..

Suzuki GSX-R 600
Even the seat rehearsal clearly signals where this is going. If Honda, Kawasaki and Triumph try to strike a balancing act between sport and touring, the GSX-R 600 is unconditionally committed to its mission: racing. Deep stumps and high notches automatically bring the rider into the correct athletic position, thus creating perfect contact between man and machine and promoting the necessary feedback when chasing the limit. Only the soft seat cushion disturbs the flow of information.
The Suzuki sails around the course in an absolutely neutral and stable manner, casually ignoring all bumps in the road, but demands a strong lead. Handy is different. Whereby the tough steering damper has its finger in the game. In return, the Suzuki driver can delete the word kickback from his vocabulary without replacement.
Pit stop: A six millimeter thick spacer on the suspension fork brings the steering geometry of the GSX-R into balance, the desired lightness and the Suzuki on the desired tight line even in long turns. Trimmed in this way, the white-blue doesn’t burn anything. Because the initially dull brake works harder and harder in a heated battle, the Suzuki engine whips out of the corners with pressure from 8000 / min and squeaky revving, the transmission changes the sporty gears without any problems and the stable chassis even on the wild ride from Markus Barth cannot be upset. The tendency of the rear wheel to brake stamping and the damping on the shock absorber, which decreases slightly when heated, are the only noticeable defects in the Suzuki chassis. The reward for the impeccable performance: 1.20.8 minutes – best time.

Yamaha YZF-R6
It has been known since its appearance at the end of 1998 that the Yamaha inherently has what it takes to be a high-flyer. The R6 was slowed down by minor design errors, which were at least alleviated by careful model maintenance. For example, chapter gearshift: formerly a cracking issue, now much softer and quieter. Unfortunately, the spread of the first three gear steps is still too large and a small handicap on the narrow Rheinring slope.
Always a highlight: the engine with 110 hp and a power plateau on which you can chase tenths of a second. Not enough, because the YZF unit also impresses with its impetuous maneuverability. The biggest deficiency in the chassis, the unfavorable drawn cross-section 120/60 on the front wheel, has been blown away by using the 120/70 Pirelli and is therefore also a tip for all R6 drivers. The resulting razor-sharp steering precision goes hand in hand with fine handling and very reliable cornering stability. On nasty asphalt curbs or bumps, the front wheel sticks like Pattex, the Yamaha remains unmoved.
PMatching the sporty chassis: the aggressive seating position and the unlimited lean angle – without fear nipples, of course. If a height adjustment of the shock absorber were still available, the package would be perfect. But even so, the Yamaha stalks through the field: 1.20.9 minutes – please.

1st place Suzuki GSX-R 600

The consistently implemented, traditional supersport concept of the GSX-R 600 just got through, but deservedly. Although the Suzuki lacks playful handling, it scores in all (inclined) positions with brilliant driving stability and an agile, easy-revving engine. To real more point: the GSX-R 600 rolls on the racetrack-ready Pirelli tires as standard. That’s the way it should be.

2nd place Kawasaki ZX-6R

Displacement cannot be replaced by anything? except through even more displacement. The old saying is confirmed in the 636 Kawasaki engine. In addition to the most powerful drive, the ZX-6R shines with its playful handling and the best brakes in a quintet. It’s good that the chassis set-up with the Pirelli is also good for sporty cornering, which cannot necessarily be said of the Dunlop D 207 series tires.

3rd place Yamaha YZF-R6

With just two points behind the winner, the YZF-R6 makes it clear that it is still at the forefront of the tough racetrack competition. The combination of a powerful engine and an agile, razor-sharp chassis puts you in a good mood and burns impressive lap times on the asphalt. However, only if instead of the standard tire a 70 mm tire is fitted at the front.

4th Place

Tea Triumph TT 600 engine still suffers from an acute lack of torque, which cannot be concealed on the racetrack even by hard shifting work. With the concept of the TT 600, which is more geared towards touring sports, the rider in a hurry can still rely on the solidly tuned and curve-stable, handy chassis. Only the poisonous brakes would benefit from a finer degree of control.

5th place Honda CBR 600 F

How come Honda last? With this unusually weak specimen of the engine, nothing can be done against the up to ten hp stronger competition. The good-natured and manageable chassis of the CBR 600 F doesn’t help either, especially since it is a bit overwhelmed with relentless race track chase. Small consolation: The Michelin Pliot Sport series tires can cope with such requirements.

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