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2008 Suzuki GSR600 Test

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2008 Suzuki GSR600: Mid Sized Muscle Heavy Weight Action
By Anthony Bradford Photograph by Kotahi-Manawa Bradford

Suzuki released this motorcycle as a mid sized 'Street Fighter'. However, the machine is a lot more versatile than just that. Through my time with the bike, I've found it good for weekend rides, commuting, sports riding, mid-range touring and it would be far from disgraced being ridden at track days. Taking it's styling cues from the newly released and acclaimed Suzuki B-King, the GSR600's look received thumbs up from the many people who made comments throughout the test. This machine does seem to attract a lot of favourable attention and pricing is sharp at a recommended retail price of $12,995.

Ride Position/Ergonomics
The ride position is fairly upright, with your hands falling naturally to the wide bars. There is plenty of leg room and ergonomically the controls are well thought out. At highway speeds the wind pressure takes the weight of the wrists and arms making for relaxed highway cruising. The seat is comfortable, while being firm enough to move around on for spirited riding sessions.

Motor/Fuelling/Transmission
Originally used in the sports orientated Suzuki GSXR600, this motor has been re-tuned to push the power further down the rev range. Though, make no mistake, this GSR will pick up it's skirts and boogie when required. The motor red lines at 14,000 revs, and once past 8000 rpm a Hollywood type Jekyll and Hyde transformation takes place. With the shrieking exhaust and growling induction roar supplying the soundtrack, the previously mild mannered bike surges forward at an impressive rate of knots making for an exciting all action, blockbusting experience! Applying the blow torch test to the fuel injection and ignition mapping systems, When I rolled the throttle on in 6th gear at only 1500 rev's, the GSR accelerated away smoothly without suffering any transmission or drive chain snatch. The under seat exhaust and muffler do an effective job of keeping the noise level in the realms of acceptability whilst maintaining a pleasing gruff business-like note, transforming to an intoxicating howl in the upper rev ranges. The gearbox is a little notchier than typical Suzuki fare. At 100 kph the bike has a buzz about it, not a vibration, just a note of slight urgency. Even though quite low in the bike's rev range, I found this trait to be beneficial in keeping to the speed limit, without the constant licence saving scrutiny of the speedometer that riding a big bore bike requires.

Handling
Putting the acid test on the GSR's handling, I rode it over the Saddle Road between Woodville and Ashhurst. This road condenses many real world conditions into a few short kilometers, from melted and slick tar to pine needles and gravel, with some corners providing more ripples than an Ab Flex Pro infomercial! The GSR overcomes such obstacles with consummate ease, being especially impressive over mid corner corrugations. Suzuki appear to have found the holy grail of motorcycle handling. That being a bike that is very agile while maintaining impressive stability. The GSR600 is very composed at all times, even chopping the throttle mid corner failed to upset it. Testifying to the stability, the bars never shook once over the entire 400 kilometer test, which featured a wide range of road and weather conditions. At times the GSR appeared as if to steer by thought alone - - - Impressive.

Suspension
The telescopic forks are adjustable for pre-load, the rear shock is adjustable for pre-load and rebound. I left the settings standard as the bike already felt just fine for my 80 kg body weight. Both front and rear suspension action were well balanced and handled everything they encountered with ease. The front forks are just a little harsh over square edged bumps, but this is just nit picking over what is a surprisingly capable suspension package.

Brakes/Tyres
The front brakes are more than up to the task of hauling the GSR up. Initial bite is impressive and their power is never in question. Standard brake pads have come a long way of late and this test pilot noticed very little difference between the stock pads over the racing compound ones. The rear brake does require firm action, though this does help with avoiding rear wheel lock up in poor weather conditions. The tyres are Bridgestones and they handled all conditions with aplomb. Wet weather performance was put to the test with constant solid rain for 200 km's featuring lots of slick tar and slippery effluent left from stock trucks. The tyres did not slip or slide at all.

Pillion
The pillion is also well provided for on this capable all rounder. My pillion passenger reported a smooth ride with a pleasingly comfortable seat and a lot more leg room than was expected. From a rider's point of view, the bike still kept it's well balanced, light handling nature while riding 'two up'.

Conclusion
Suzuki are to be congratulated on producing a genuinely talented mid range all rounder that punches well above it's weight. GSR600 riders will need to hold off ordering their big bike riding friends a coffee when arriving at a cafe stop, as no one enjoys a cold cup of cappuccino.

Pros/Cons
Thumbs up: Handling, motor, brakes, price, style and above all, versatility.

Thumbs down: Mirrors blurring, speedometer a little smaller than I'd like, and sadly, having to give the test bike back!

Thank you to Paul Booth of Dannevirke Suzuki for providing the test bike.

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Comments

  1. HornetBoy's Avatar
    hmm am thinking of getting one myself ,this was a very informative review ,thanks
  2. Jahdafario's Avatar
    hey mate, i've got one, bloody excellent bike, although i just came up from a vtr250, i've ridden a firestorm and k1 gsxr750, i couldn't imagine sitting like that riding everywhere, just not my cuppa,
    i advise anyone who wants a great bike that looks even better than the hornet to get one hehe,
  3. Jahdafario's Avatar
    the part where it screams like a gsxr is also fun too, my power band really starts to kick in at about 9000 to 10,000, not sure about 8,500, havent really noticed it, i just go by sound and feel,
    and the electronic speedo makes going past cops/cameras and sticking to limits a breeze, (new 30km/h limit on queen st now in auck )
  4. Jahdafario's Avatar
    also the bike is too easy to be cheeky in the tightest of inner city auckland traffic.
    By first glance this bike looks huge with a long wheelbase, but when you hop on and are riding, it feels like the two wheels are 1 under your nuts and 1 just in front of your knob, and so very easy to throw around,
  5. Jahdafario's Avatar
    and note, my knee goes down hanging off the thing in tight twists, but i've had it quite low and the pegs do not seem to scrape, though i have had my boot slightly over the edges of the pegs and they scrape, wouldn't try going any tighter
    great bike its a 9.5 in my books, the 0.5 is because it is now lacking power, maybe a gsr750 would be absolutely perfect.
    cheers,
    dan k7 07' gsr600