The Suzuki GSX-R600’s performance on the track during our initial baseline testing should have been expected given our solid first impression on the street.
Rolling onto the track on a 100% stock (down to the reflectors, mirrors and license plate bracket) bike with only a few hundred miles on the clock is always a refreshing feeling. The only component on the bike that did not come from the factory on our 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600 was the set of Pirelli SuperCorsa track tires (an absolute must for extended track testing). The GSX-R ripped through the crisp wine country morning air of Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA smoothly, quietly and effortlessly. As the day progressed, we were able to dial the bike in pushing it deeper into each corner and harder out of each exit exposing more and more of the bikes full potential.
The powerband delivered from the middleweight engine when the throttle is rolled open is pronounced yet linear throughout the majority of the RPM range. The GSX-R does not have any obvious dips and spikes in power nor does it force the rider to remain in top revs in order to have any juice on tap. This is an aspect of the powertrain department that sets the Suzuki apart from its competition despite our desire for a bit more peak horsepower. Though the stock gearing is a bit on the tall side even for the relatively-open Sonoma Raceway circuit, the torque curve provides plenty of low to midrange grunt to pull the bike out of the 4-digit RPM zone exiting tighter corners. When the next gear is needed, shifting is positive and smooth especially clicking down through the gearbox when entering a corner especially hot. A minor shift rod adjustment was needed to improve upshifts but this was accomplished track-side in seconds with a simple open-end 10mm wrench. Monitoring both the RPM and current gear position is effortlessly accomplished with quick glances to the very legible tachometer and gear selection indicator. Additionally, lap times can be logged and referenced through the simple system and thumb controls as well.
Baseline suspension settings weren’t far off our ideal setup with the stock components. The rear shock worked surprisingly well for a stock piece of equipment. The rear end was planted and stable in the majority of corners getting only slightly rough in middle of higher-speed turns. With only 155lbs in the saddle, minor compression dampening adjustments smoothed this out. Up front, the Showa Big Piston Forks also performed extremely well once a little bit of compression was added to increase front end feel. Under hard braking induced by the massive Brembo monoblock calipers, the front end tended to load up causing the rear to get a bit squirrelly. Adding a couple clicks of front end preload settled this dance. However, the increased front end performance allowed for more confident brake pressure to be applied, exposing a brake fade issue. The initial bite of the braking components is strong and increased lever pressure results in linear braking power up until the very end of an extended and hard application. Finally, the backbone of this package, holding everything together, is Suzuki’s extremely well-developed chassis. The GSX-R frame allows the front and rear ends to operate in symphony without any wallow or instability to be felt in the midsection through sweeping corners or quick transitions with the minor imperfections ironed out by the electronic steering damper.
The components comprising the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600 package allow for a bike that is extremely solid yet nimble. Very little bar and peg pressure are required to flick the bike into a turn, make adjustments mid-corner or lift it up on exit. The low end torque enables the rider to utilize a wider range of the powerband further eliciting a quick corner exit. When coming up on the next tight turn, the trusted Brembo braking system sheds speed quickly and controllably. The GSX-R seems to be an excellent bike for the track right out of the box but with a few goodies in the horsepower, gearing and braking departments, we might have a real middleweight beast on our hands.
Test Rider: Bruce Speedman (5’ 10”, 155lbs)
Location: Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA
Weather Conditions (observed from 6AM – 6PM): Dry surfaces, clear skies, 65 – 94 degrees F
Tires: Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsa SP DOT race tire (180/55 rear size, medium compound, 32/28 hot pressures)
[Photos by: Dito Milian / gotbluemilk.com]