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Motorcycle Buyer's Guide: 600cc supersports


by Pascal Bastien ,

Lightweight and nimble like a ballerina, yet sharp and precise like a scalpel, supersports that come directly from international racing series are a treat for hardcore riders who look for a compact and affordable machine that's easily tamed.

There are three types of engine in this segment including the 600cc 4-cylinders from the Japanese manufacturers, the 675cc inline triples from Triumph and MV Agusta, as well Ducati's 850cc twin-cylinder.

Motorcycle Buyer's Guide: 600cc superbikes

Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE
With a larger displacement, improved power, and a razor-sharp frame, the Ducati 848 EVO sets things straight among middleweight supersports and can even put some superbikes to shame. Aggressive lines, impressive engine performance, an hydraulic clutch, premium suspensions, and braided Brembo brake lines now combine with the famous Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system and the segment-exclusive Ducati Data Acquisition (DDA) system.

Unsurprisingly, this bike offers a radical riding position, with the upper body leaning heavily forward, and the pelvis squeezed between the tail and narrow tank.

2012 Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE left side view
Photo: Filip Bertrand

Honda CBR600RRA
The Honda CBR600RRA boasts the agility of a 250cc sport bike mainly as a result of its perfect weight distribution. On the road or on the track, it immediately makes the rider feel safe and confident by obeying his or her every command, even in the tightest corners. Enhancing the whole experience is the segment's one and only combined antilock braking system (C-ABS).

Overall performance is not quite as strong as the competition, but the friendlier riding position will definitely add comfort to your daily rides.

2012 Honda CBR600RRA right side view
Photo: Honda

Kawasaki ZX-6R
The latest evolution of the smaller ZX is new and improved on every front. Lighter and more powerful, it benefits from a more effective suspension system, optimized mass centralization, and a successfully revised design.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R's inline 4-cylinder engine now sits higher in the frame and cranks out 132 horsepower for an incredible 220 hp/L ratio. Riding dynamics are pretty relaxed for a supersport, and the racy styling hides a docile beast that aims for nothing less than the podium.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-6R front 3/4 view
Photo: Kawasaki

MV Agusta F3 675
The MV Agusta F3 675 will soon arrive in Canada as a 2013 model. Expect a plethora of electronics including 8-level traction control, variable injection mapping, computer controlled throttle, launch control, anti-wheeling, shifting assist, and more.

The sweet-sounding triple-cylinder engine uses a revolutionary counter-rotating crankshaft, a MotoGP-derived technology that improves full-throttle acceleration. The F3 675 is a super weapon for track days and hot lap sessions.

2012 MV Agusta F3 675 front 3/4 view
Photo: MV Agusta

Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750
Lighter, more powerful, and equipped with more capable brakes and suspension, the Suzuki GSX-R600 is ready to take on the feistiest competitors. Styling could be a bit flashier, although the new model is reminiscent of the excellent 2004-2005 generation.

The latest Gixxer is astonishingly precise, stable in corners, easy to pinpoint, and unflappable during hard braking. In fact, there has never been a supersport that was easier to ride than this one, so the bar is pretty high for rivals.

Those after a more road-oriented supersport will prefer the Suzuki GSX-R750, which stands well above the competition in terms of comfort, user-friendliness, versatility, and linear power delivery.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 front 3/4 view
Photo: Sébastien D'Amour

Triumph Daytona 675R
The no-compromise Triumph Daytona 675R uses the same recipe as the Street Triple R, starting with an incredibly lightweight, super-sharp chassis that wastes no effort. The riding position puts a lot of weight on the wrists, so you have to ride above the posted speed limits to create a wind force that will lift your chest and relieve your arms.

This Triumph offers arguably the best value in its class, and proves to be one of the raciest, best-handling two-wheelers in the world.

2012 Triumph Daytona 675R right side view
Photo: Triumph

Yamaha YZF-R6
Compact (maybe too much), stylish, capable, and radical, the Yamaha YZF-R6 makes brilliant use of an exhilarating powerplant that keeps pushing all the way to 16,500 rpm. As the revs climb for what seems like forever, a high-pitched sound comes out of the tailpipes. Just beware of the nimble and extremely sharp chassis that can turn the R6 into a bit of a wild steed at times. On the plus side, you'll be attacking corners at bullet speeds thanks to the superb feedback from the front wheel and a suspension that can handle quite a workload.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R6 front 3/4 view
Photo: Yamaha

Obviously, it's not the most comfortable supersport on the road, but for the track, wow! The R6 always gives opponents a run for their money, even four years removed from its last major revision.

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