The day began with a brisk jaunt up the A46 from Lincoln to Newark, Nottinghamshire, and back again (roughly 40 miles). Though primarily done to charge the battery, this gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the bike’s ability to cover long distances at motorway speeds.
Suzuki GSX-R600 SRAD
Having altered the gearing for acceleration, the bike’s 599cc inline-four motor sits at over 7,000rpm at 70mph in sixth gear, making it a real pain on these sorts of roads. With two more teeth added to the back sprocket and one less on the front than as standard, the engine produces a constant high-pitch hum which, even with earplugs, can become extremely irritating over long distances. This is amplified by the after-market Blueflame slip-on exhaust can that came fitted with the bike when I bought it.
Arriving back in the city, I was reminded just how badly sportsbikes can perform in built up areas. Designed to be at home on a racetrack, the Suzuki’s large turning circle and clunky gearbox make it impractical at lower speeds.
Sometimes hitting false neutrals in second gear, the bike’s saving-grace comes from its ability to filter through traffic. With this being a particular pet peeve of mine, carving up rows of stationary cars never fails to put a smile on my face.
Though it sounds like I am being extremely negative, it is important to remember that the GSX-R was never designed with commuting and town riding in mind. Produced as a thoroughbred race replica, the bike only comes alive once you let it off its leash on twisty roads or take it to a race circuit.
Leaving the city centre, I headed to Willingham Woods in Market Rasen to let the bike stretch its legs. Offering a ribbon of tarmac stretching across Lincolnshire’s countryside for over 20 miles, it reminded me exactly why I love riding this bike.
Banging through the gearbox with a huge smile on your face, the Suzuki’s superb handling and peachy engine note make it an absolute joy to ride when the going gets technical.
Having replaced the standard front suspension with the upside-down forks from a Suzuki TL1000S and the rear shock absorber with one from a more powerful Suzuki GSX-R750, the bike wills you to press on in the corners.
This is heightened by the quality of the sticky rubber in contact with the road. With Metzler Roadtec Z8 tyres on the front and rear, their all-weather capabilities mean they heat up quickly, giving a rider confidence where it counts in all conditions.
Though the bike’s sound is a drone against your ear drums at a constant speed, as you climb through the rev range in each gear, the exhaust note really adds character to this bike. Easing to 60mph in sub four seconds, the bike produces a low burble at the bottom of the rev-range which climbs to an intoxicating high-pitched scream at the redline. Interestingly, the fun-factor remains when you are forced to slow down too. Coming back down the gearbox, the bike produces antisocial crackles and spits flames upon downshifts, making you feel like a complete hero as you brake for corner entry.
This is a brilliant entry-level sportsbike. Offering enough power to make your hairs stand on end and handling to match, every time I get to ride this bike I am reminded of exactly why I could never get rid of it. Though it will never be the best at commuting over distance or slow riding through towns, the GSX-R was never designed to do so. Whilst technology has moved on and this bike is now a relative ‘old-timer’, it is all I really need to get my buzz. With good tyres and better suspension, it is still more than enough to worry any weekend warrior on the latest machinery – and a damn sight more exciting than anything on four wheels you could own at this young age.