The GSX-R600 handles as nimbly as a bicycle and dips into corners with little prompting. If I could build an ideal sportbike for a woman riders needs, the “Gixxer” (the nickname fans have given the GSX-R models) would nearly fit the bill. This sportbike embodies most, if not all, of the qualities that a woman rider wants.
Weighing in at 412 pounds, the bike is a bit on the heavy side for a 600cc motorcycle, but it carries its heft remarkably well and has a low center of gravity. The front end feels light and eager for input from the rider, with user-friendly turn-in capability nearly as flickable as a bicycle. The Bridgestone BT016 tires provide plenty of grip and make handling a dream on both smooth highways and rough city street pavement.
The overall seating position was comfortable compared to other sportbikes I’ve ridden. The reach to the bars was fine—I didn’t have to overextend myself to reach them—and though the footpegs are positioned upward and slightly aft, I didn’t feel cramped like I do on some other sportbikes. Another thing I love about the Gixxer 600 is how the rider sits into the chassis as opposed to on top of it, as the seat is positioned lower than gas tank level. Because of this, I feel more a part of the machine and therefore able to maneuver it without that forced feeling I’ve experienced with motorcycles that feel top-heavy to me.
Make no mistake, the 599cc engine is no slouch. Though the throttle felt tame and gradual during early rpm, the punch from the engine was obvious from 6,000 rpm on and had plenty of get up and go while negotiating congested city streets and freeways. In the canyons, the smooth powerband made exiting curves easy, and I found the absence of a twitchy throttle refreshing. Riders looking for a fun bike to take to the canyons on weekends will love the GSX-R600. With a claimed 44.6 mpg, the motorcycle makes a decent commuter bike as well.
Shifting was almost effortless on the butter-smooth, 6-speed, constant mesh transmission. Even without pulling in the clutch, the transmission slipped into upper and lower gears with a mere nudge of the boot on the shifter peg.
For riders who desire hot looks in a motorcycle as well as performance, the maroon red on black with matte black carbon fiber flair made the Gixxer as salaciously desirable as a little black dress in the window—at least for me.
The 600 made such an impression on me that I tried to go buy one. Unfortunately, this motorcycle is so hugely popular that its hard to find one being sold at its MSRP. At the time of my test ride (in spring 2012), there were only five available in California. I was unable to locate one to purchase, unless I was willing to pay $1,000 more than the MSRP of $11,599. Guess I’ll have to wait until the next model year.