What a difference a year can make, especially if you’re Suzuki. After all, it was little more than a year ago that the Japanese manufacturer’s U.S. subsidiary announced it wouldn’t import any 2010 streetbike models into America—the iconic GSX-R models included. The marketing ploy seemed risky, but was deemed necessary by American Suzuki, which noted that U.S. dealerships were practically up to their necks in unsold ’09 units. Now, just a little over a year later, Suzuki is back strong as ever in the American market with two completely redesigned machines—the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750, two models that prove Suzuki engineers weren’t just twiddling their thumbs over the last year or so.
At first glance, the new models are strikingly similar to their predecessors. In fact, aside from the glaring new Showa fork and Brembo front brake calipers, one would assume that little has been done to the GSX-R600 and its slightly-larger-displacement sibling. The opposite is true however, and a quick look over each model’s spec sheet will prove just that. The biggest change you ask? Well, it’s something that both models actually lost in their latest overhaul—excess weight.
No Stone Left Unturned
Instead of going to America...
Instead of going to America in 2010, these GSX-R models went to Jenny Craig.
As was the case in 2006, when the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 last received a true redesign, Suzuki made a number of modifications to the engine and chassis of each 2011 model. However, because the 750 has no direct competition, it received slightly less attention than the 600, which for 2011 has a number of engine revisions and, quite frankly, could take the middleweight category by storm this year.
With a claimed curb weight of 419 pounds, the 2011 GSX-R750 is roughly 18 pounds lighter than its forerunner. Not to be outdone however is the GSX-R600, which with a claimed curb weight of 412 pounds, is almost 20 pounds lighter than its 2010 predecessor. The majority of the weight loss is spread throughout the bike, but a large chunk of it comes from the revised body panels. And outward appearance may look the same, but by using fewer, thinner panels and less hardware, Suzuki was able to cut a staggering eight pounds. Additionally, to match the shorter wheelbase (more on that later), the front cowl is 55mm shorter and the tail section is 35mm shorter. Fitted up front is a new vertically stacked headlight that in itself is one pound lighter.
And while weight loss was an extremely important factor, Suzuki engineers had more goals in mind during this latest redesign; they also looked to improve handling characteristics, and enhance low-end and midrange power by lowering reciprocating mass and reducing frictional losses.
That in mind, the engineers redesigned the pistons of the 599cc oversquare engine, which now feature shorter and narrower skirts and are a claimed 14-percent lighter than those of the previous model. Matched to the newly designed pistons are connecting rods that Suzuki claims to be 12 percent lighter.
Also new for the 2011 GSX-R600 is the six-and-a-half-ounce-lighter, vertically staggered close-ratio six-speed transmission that features a taller first gear ratio and shorter ratios for second, third, fourth and sixth gear. The intent behind this was to not only improve straight-line acceleration from a stop (a benefit on the street), but also acceleration out of corners (a benefit on both the street and on the track).
As far as numbers are concerned, the GSX-R600 retains the same bore and stroke, but compression has been bumped from 12.8:1 to 12.9:1. And while the aforementioned engine revisions were limited to just the 600, a handful of additional alterations were made to both it and its larger-displacement kin.
The primary change to both engines is the pentagonal-shaped cutouts in the side of each cylinder bore that replace the conventional round ventilation holes and are said to permit easier and quicker airflow between cylinders.