Prior to the 2011 GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 press launch, Suzuki must have paid their weather bill; that or they did some spiritual anti-rain dance just before the event. On the day of the intro, weather predictions for the area approximate Barber Motorsports Park called for severe thunder storms, warned of possible tornadoes and forecasted just torturous conditions in general. By some good fortune however, the skies were clear for the better part of the launch and it wasn’t until around three in the afternoon (by which time most everyone was too tired to ride anymore anyways) that the looming clouds opened up and all hell broke loose, leaving us almost a full day to put the new bikes through the ringer.
In all honesty though, it doesn’t take more than a few laps on a notoriously tight and technical track like Barber to immediately tell where the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 have been improved. Both models are extremely nimble and the all-new GSX-R600 is noticeably stronger than its predecessor mid-corner in terms of power and handling characteristics. And much like its lightweight sibling, the 750 is comfortable and easy to ride.
Suzuki left few stones unturned in the latest redesign of both models, and much of the improved performance and power characteristics can be accredited to the revised engine components, shorter wheelbase, Showa BPF big piston front forks and Brembo Monobloc calipers. Perhaps the most important aspect of the new Suzuki machines though is something they don’t have – excess weight. With a curb weight of 419 pounds, the all-new GSX-R750 is roughly 18 pounds lighter than the 2010 model, but not to be outdone is the GSX-R600, which has a curb weight of 412 pounds and is a staggering 20 pounds lighter than its 2010 forerunner.
So where was the weight lost? Perhaps the more fitting question would be where wasn’t the weight lost? The revised frame of the new GSX-R models is roughly three pounds lighter, the swingarm is two pounds lighter and the wheels are almost one pound lighter. The most drastic weight loss though, undoubtedly comes from the revamped body panels which are almost eight pounds lighter than the previous models.
The wheelbase of the all new...
The wheelbase of the all new GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 is 15mm shorter than the previous models. This was accomplished by tilting the engine rearward 3° over the countershaft sprocket. Swingarm length remains the same.
The 2011 GSX-R models lost...
The 2011 GSX-R models lost weight, but gained Showa BPF big piston front forks and Brembo Monobloc calipers.
The redesigned body panels...
The redesigned body panels of the 2011 GSX-R models lent to a loss of roughly 7.5 pounds. The new stacked headlight assembly was worth 1.2 pounds alone.
On the track, the only thing more noticeable than the lighter feel of both machines is the superb suspension and braking components of each bike. The Showa BPF big piston fork, which flows a larger volume of oil by means of a much larger diameter piston, is compliant, provides great feedback and allows the bike to hold its line extremely well.
The real beauty of the BPF front fork though, is the fact that it works so perfectly with the Brembo Monobloc calipers up front, which when grabbed with might, provide an unbelievably potent bite that gets things slowed down in a hurry. Even under extreme braking, the Suzuki 600 stays stable and the BPF front fork absorbs every bit of the energy with ease, almost scoffing at you, asking, “Is that all you got?” On the 750, hard breaking does lend to a slightly more “loose” feel from the bike and there is a slight squirm just before turn-in is initiated. According to Suzuki Field Service Manager Derek Schoeberle, the difference is attributed to the “different engine characteristics of the larger displacement motor.” Still, all told the new suspension and brakes work near perfectly and are a much-appreciated addition to the all-new machines.
In terms of outright horsepower, the 2011 GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 are no stronger than previous models. Engine revisions however have lent to more mid-range power on the 600 and the new close-ration transmission and new gearing offers better acceleration. Around a track like Barber, the improved mid-range characteristics make the 600 not only more fun to ride, but also more competitive against its middleweight competition, which in the past have had the Suzuki covered in terms of off-corner drive.
As with last their liter bike sibling, the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 run S-DMS (Suzuki drive mode selectors), but unlike the GSX-R1000 which offers three varying modes, the 2011 600 and 750 models offer just two – an unrestricted A mode and rather mute B mode. On the track, the B mode is something most can do without, even though Suzuki claims it will be useful for tire conservation late in a race. It is nice to note however that for 2011, Suzuki has rearranged the handle switches and conveniently placed the mode selector on the left switch, meaning you don’t have to change modes with your throttle hand. Even at racetrack speeds, the mode selector is easy to access and takes little-to-no attention away from riding.
Many more changes liter the 2011 machines, and those are ones we look forward to covering in the full 2011 GSX-R600 and 2011 GSX-750 First Ride story in the June 2011 issue of Sport Rider Magazine.
For now though we would like to leave you with this interesting point…
MSRP for the 2011 GSX-R750 (available in blue/white and black) is $11,999, just $400 more than the GSX-R600 (available in blue/white and white/black) which is priced at $11,599. And so presumably, price will no longer be a large factor in whether or not customers will choose the 600 over the 750.