The orange low-fuel light had finally lit up following four consecutive days of “mind breath” lunch rides of about 40 miles each.
Those daily jaunts are super-spirited and help refresh my brain and body from the day’s initial six hours of work. Sportbikes are always the choice for the short sprints, and my Ducati 1198 typically ends up heading “around the mountain” during these afternoon rides when traffic is minimal.
My 1198 is downright brutal—it’s the base model with zero electronic aids, but plenty of performance upgrades. If your mind isn’t precisely connected to your extremities, especially your right hand, arrivederci.
This style of riding, on what now feels like archaic bikes, forces you to totally forget about the day’s duties and focus on only the task at hand—something vital with such a mighty, hot, and fuel-chugging Italian V-twin. If you lose focus, you can easily die.
Things have changed drastically over the past two weeks. My daily lunch rides have occurred on a much tamer machine—a Suzuki GSX-R600 K4 I acquired on a partial trade for another bike (I don’t want to tell you which bike; I’m still sad about it).
The GSX-R is bright yellow, unmolested, and not loaded with the typical squid-added features such as neons, spiked windscreens, or fluorescent wheel pinstriping.
Some different blinkers and a Yoshimura pipe are the only upgrades. The Yosh robs low- and mid-range smoothness but enhances the spirit of the 600’s harmonious tone from 8000 rpm to a redline that’s just north of 15,000 rpm.
This is the first 600 supersport and inline-four I have owned since a Yamaha YZF-R6 track bike about 10 years ago. All others are and were v-twins, except for my ‘98 Honda VFR800, the V4 restored and ready for collector status. I do have a trip planned for the VFR this July, with the Viffer set to lead some rides at a local Kawasaki ZRX Owners Association ride (yeah, right, I’m sure I’ll ride the Multistrada like I always do!).
Many of my friends, those who are part-time riders at best, asked why I would even consider a 600, believing in the false knowledge that supersports are “beginner’s bikes,” and size matters over rider ability.
The primary reason I grabbed the GSX-R600 was because of what I mentioned before—it was unmolested, and not hacked to death or crashed. I was impressed by the initial pictures the previous owner had sent. The bike had one defect—a v-shaped tear on the seat, which haunted me every time I walked towards it, almost as if the motorcycle universe was telling me I was cheating on my V-twins.
That quickly changed; I found a practically new blue seat that added to the aesthetics of the bike.
The second reason was that harmonious tone I also mentioned before, one that can only derive from a smaller cc inline-four revving over 15,000 rpm. The sound is World Supersport on the backroads of Northeastern Pennsylvania, one that can surely annoy society but helps soothe my soul.
The bike arrived home with nearly a full tank of gas. During these lunch rides, my 1198 lasts about two days before the low-fuel light shines. I completed the same ride as I do on the 1198, but I got two extra days before I saw the GSX-R’s low-fuel light.
The Suzuki takes forever to reach top speeds, but it doesn’t feel like it because of that high-pitched sound of the exhaust. Oh, and the bike doesn’t burn my thighs or ass, something the 1198 is capable of, even in 50-degree weather.
This 600 is pure fun. And I already “got into it” with an S 1000 RR. This guy saw a man in full leathers on a yellow GSX-R and, when stopped at a place where I typically turn around to run a beautiful stretch of a country road, the BMW rider assumed I was on a literbike. The tail of my K4 has no markings. I kept quiet.
Not only is this little gal providing a comfortable release from work that doesn’t require frequent gas stops, now it’s turning into a game player for locals on literbikes.
I may even start tagging photos soon with #gixxerthough. Ha! I’m so freaking kidding there—I won’t even say Gixxer because it automatically slows my ability to ride well. Actually, I haven’t posted a pic of the bike yet. I guess I will once this column goes live.
I have a renewed romance for the supersport class, although, if history proves itself worthy, I know the inline-four craving will only last for a small amount of time. This bike will not be sold, and likely “collected” as I tell my wife.
There is always room for one more, and the next just maybe a V-twin supersport—a Ducati 748 or 848 “collector,” I’m sure.
And hopefully yellow, with no badges indicating size. It’s always fun to play with the “big boys” who think size still matters.