Progress is rapid in 600 sportbike territory. Each year, new and improved bikes leapfrog up the pecking order, while unchanged models sink to the bottom faster than a stool pigeon with concrete boots. Unbelievably, it was just three years since our jaws dropped with the introduction of Suzuki’s GSX-R600, and only two years ago that Kawasaki’s ZX-6R reigned supreme. Last year, the new Yamaha R6 stunned us by jumping right to the top of the heap (and coming away with Bike of the Year honors to boot, see December ’99), dragging Honda’s latest CBR right along with it. Is Kawasaki’s improved-for-2000 ZX-6R strong enough to dethrone Miwa’s baby R? Or will the brand-new Triumph TT600 debut in classic British pop-star style—at number one?

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.Kevin Wing

Nuts and Bolts
Three of our contenders for this year's 600 shootout return essentially un­­­changed from 1999. Honda's CBR600F4—introduced as a new model last year—is identical with the exception of additional color schemes. The Suzuki GSX-R600—unveiled in 1997 and tweaked and trimmed in '98 and '99—returns mostly the same except for an additional paint scheme. Yamaha's 2000 YZF-R6 incorporates a subtly changed shift lever and spring, along with modified oil rings and matching pistons.

Heavily revised for Y2K is the Kawasaki ZX-6R, with significant chassis and engine changes for more power and less weight (three horsepower and five kilograms respectively, according to the literature). Savvy readers will have the low-down on the myriad changes to the 6R, others can check out our June issue for the Kawi's first ride.

A dark horse for 600-class honors is Tri­umph's all-new TT600, the first Hinckley-built Trumpet aimed squarely at a market traditionally dom­inated by Japanese manufacturers. Our first ride (August 2000) left us impressed—even ignoring the fact that the TT is the British company's first attempt at a sporting middleweight.

For five motorcycles that have such contrasting and distinct characteristics, their specifications could be seen as remarkably similar. The Triumph’s Sagem fuel injection (the other bikes have carbs) is the biggest news to hit the class technically for a few years; otherwise, pickings are slim for major differences among the bikes.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that many years of evolution in a class where tooth-and-nail sales battles are the norm has resulted in the manufacturers converging on a single, close-to-optimum layout for a 600cc sportbike. Which makes our 600 shootout a contest not unlike the combat in the sales trenches, with victory—by a margin that gets smaller every year—never assured until the bitter end.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
The Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki (1, 2 and 3) utilize analog speedometers, with the F4’s temperature gauge an analog unit also. The ZX-6R, TT600 (4) and R6 (5) all have digital clocks—a nice touch.Kevin Wing

City Slickers
As great as these bikes are on the track and in the twisties, this is where they often see the majority of use—carting you back and forth to work in the big city. The Honda and Kawasaki are at home in this environment, blasting from light to light and threading through traffic with ease. The CBR-F4 combines relaxed, upright ergos with a linear powerband and perfect carburetion to make the daily commute a bearable trek. Wide-spaced mirrors give a good view of the action around you, and the highish bars provide lots of leverage for avoiding trouble at a moment's notice. A narrow midsection gives an impression of compactness, and the one-piece seat is a fav­orite with both riders and passengers.

It’s hard to reign your­self in when riding the ZX-6 in the city since the raspy intake and exhaust note of the potent mill tease you into treating every stoplight like a dragstrip Christmas tree—and the Kawi has the power to back up such an impulse. Top fuel antics aside, the green meanie’s CBR-like seating position (although a tad more aggressive) leaves you arriving fresh and relaxed. The seat is wider and less crowned than the F4’s, making the whole bike feel on the large and roomy side. The engine is uncan­nily smooth, leaving the mirrors vibration free and giving a clear rearward view. We did notice that when things got hot in stop-and-go traffic, the 6R’s carburetion suffers, and driveline lash becomes somewhat of a bother.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suspension Settings:
HONDA CBR600F4
FRONT: Preload: 2 lines showing; Rebound damping: 1⁄2 turn out from full stiff; Compression damping: 1 1⁄2 turns out from full stiff.
REAR: Preload: position 2; Rebound damping: 3⁄4 turn out from full stiff; Compression damping: 1 turn out from full stiff.
Kevin Wing

Less of a pleasure—but still quite satisfactory in the urban jungle is the Yamaha R6. With lower and closer clip-on positioning than the F4 and ZX-6R, the ergonomics are surprisingly comfy, but can be a bit cramped for larger-sized people. The seat is wide and easy to move around on, and the seat/tank junction and frame rails are quite narrow. The YZF suffers a bit in the boiler room around town. There's not much action below 5k or so, and above that things get a bit buzzy. Also not helping in traffic are the YZF's mirrors—which show mostly elbows and not what's behind you—and the bulges at the front of the tank, which interfere with your wrists on tight turns. Both clutch and brake levers are meant for large people (even with the brake lever adjusted all the way in) and can't be lowered much from the too-high standard position. This can make for awkward control feel in the city, and arm pump on the racetrack.

You’d expect the Suzuki, with the most racer-esque ergos of our quintet, to be a handful in the city, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Gixxer sports clip-ons the lowest and farthest from the seat, practically draping you over the wide tank; combine this with the high-set footpegs, and you’ll have some creaky bones when you get to work. Its seat is comfortable and wide though, which eases discomfort considerably because you can easily stretch while still in the saddle. The wide-spaced mirrors are the best of the bunch, providing a clear view of traffic behind. Lots of revs are required to pull away from a stop, and the small GSX-R is lackadaisical in the bottom third of its rev-band, even com­pared to the R6.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suspension Settings:
KAWASAKI ZX-6R
FRONT: Preload: 4 lines showing; Rebound damping: full stiff; Compression damping: 7 clicks out from full stiff.
REAR: Preload: standard setting; Rebound damping: full stiff; Compression damping: 6 clicks out from full stiff; Ride height: standard position.
Kevin Wing

Bringing up the rear around town is the Triumph TT600. It’s ergos are on par with the Kawa­saki, although its dished seat has a small annoying hump at the very front. In fact, the Trumpet’s riding position is almost identical to the green machine’s, but your whole body seems rotated back a few degrees, with the more forward footpegs and closer bars. The mirrors are good—in part because the angled-in clip-ons force your elbows in tight—and seem to be slightly convex to fit more of a view into their frames. Where the TT falls short—very short—is bottom end throttle response. Leaving a stop is a jerky affair, as an oscillating idle combines with a grabby clutch to make pulling away a chore. From there, a surge of power is followed abruptly by a massive flat spot at 3500 rpm, followed again by a jump in steam. Take a peek at the dyno curve, and you’ll see the torque transitions are quite abrupt; riding the Triumph anywhere below 4000 rpm is an exercise in frustration.

Having said that, once over 4000 rpm, the Trumpet comes alive, with smooth progressive power that makes dispatching cage drivers an easy affair. If you ride aggressively, using plenty of revs and clutch slip, you can avoid the injection glitches altogether. For city work, the TT sports the most compliant suspension, along with extremely light steering. If it weren’t for the rough injection response, the TT600 would be easily vying with the Honda and Kawasaki for top honors blasting around town.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suspension Settings:
SUZUKI GSX-R600
FRONT: Preload: 1 line showing; Rebound damping: 3⁄4 turn out from full stiff; Compression damping: 1 turn out from full stiff.
REAR: Preload: 12mm thread showing; Rebound damping: 1⁄2 turn out from full stiff; Compression damping: 21⁄4 turns out from full stiff.
Kevin Wing

Highway Haulers
Highway droning is another scenario these 600s will often find themselves in, journeying from point A to point B as comfortably and quickly as possible. The Kawasaki was a clear favorite among our testers for highway hauling, with its smooth motor, excellent wind protection and roomy ergos. Larger people will find the clip-ons to be rotated rearward a bit excessively. This positions them closer, but puts more weight on a rider's outer palms and can become annoying after 45 to 50 minutes. Freeway expansion joints are felt through the 6R's seat more so than on the other bikes since high-speed compression damping is on the firm side. Still, it's not a problem going through a tank of gas (and the ZX-6R has the best range of the bunch by almost 20 miles) without stopping.

Somewhat less favored, but nonetheless quite capable of racking up miles, are the Honda and Triumph. The soft, crowned seat on the F4 is quite comfortable for long periods of time, and the fairing offers excellent wind protection, albeit with somewhat more buffeting present than the Kawasaki. At freeway speeds, however, the Honda vibrates substantially more than the ZX-6R, with both its pegs and clip-ons numbing hands and feet at about midtank distance.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
All the 600s incorporate a ram-air induction system of some form. The Honda (1) and Triumph (4) have similarly placed ducts, but the F4’s are much bigger and blend in a bit nicer. The Kawasaki (2) shares its nose with the ZX-9R, and has an enormous scoop compared to the others. The Suzuki (3) utilizes twin ducts, wide-spaced apart, whereas the Yamaha (5) has only a single small duct in the center of the fairing.Kevin Wing

The Triumph is smoother, especially in its pegs and up to higher speeds, and offers wind protection equivalent to the Honda; ergonomically, however, the British bike could be improved for long hauls. The seating position—which is great around town—leaves you locked in one place, as the seat is quite dished and has that annoying hump right at its front. This makes it difficult to move around and relax on an extended journey, leaving you fairly stiff after a long haul. And the clip-ons are severely rotated back, which—while like the Kawasaki places them nice and close—leaves your outer palms sore after 35 to 40 minutes.

Yamaha’s R6 is not the pretzel-maker you’d expect it to be, but is still noticeably more cramped than the aforementioned trio. The tiny windscreen offers practically zero protection from the elements, and there’s a buzz in the pegs and bars—more so than the F4—at elevated cruising speeds.

While by no means uncomfortable on a long highway trip, the GSX-R is less favored due to its racer ergonomics. Wind protection from the big fairing is excellent and the engine is very smooth at highway speeds. With the longest reach to the lowest bars in the class however, you'll be stopping soon on the Gixxer to give your hands a break.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suspension Settings:
TRIUMPH TT600
FRONT: Preload: 4 lines showing; Rebound damping: 4 clicks out from full stiff; Compression damping: 3 clicks out from full stiff.
REAR: Preload: 29mm thread showing; Rebound damping: 6 clicks out from full stiff; Compression damping: 2 clicks out from full stiff.
Kevin Wing

Canyon Carvers
After all the city work and highway flogging, these little gems are in their element once you get them to the twisties. Here the Yamaha R6 emerges as a clear favorite among most of our testers, with comments such as, "What's not to like about this bike?" and "It just does everything right," being bandied about after a stint on the Yamaha. Essentially, the R6's combination of a nimble, diminutive chassis with scalpel-­sharp handling and a flexible, powerful engine allows riders to concentrate on riding this bike to their own ability, rather than to any limit of the machine. With midrange power easily on-par with the ZX-6R, and crisp throttle response in the top half of the rev range, the R6 launches from turns with authority. Its speed is easily scrubbed off for the next bend by Yamaha's superb one-piece caliper brakes.

Although the R6 has the shortest trail of the five bikes (equal to the TT600), steering is not as light as say, the Kawasaki or Tri­umph. But once in a bend, the R6 carves an arc easier and tighter than any other sportbike, and midcorner line changes are executed effortlessly, making the R6 more confidence inspiring on an unknown road. Our only complaints center on the still somewhat notchy shifting in its lower gears, and a front fork that gets a bit jumpy over ripply pavement.

While the R6 stands above the competition by a clear margin for canyon carving, selecting an order among the remaining four bikes is a difficult task. All make short work of a meandering road with an ease that leaves you shaking your head, but the Kawasaki stood out among our testers as being slightly superior to the rest of the best.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suspension Settings:
YAMAHA YZF-R6
FRONT: Preload: 7 lines showing; Rebound damping: 2 clicks out from full stiff; Compression damping: 6 clicks out from full stiff.
REAR: Preload: position 4 from full soft; Rebound damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; Compression damping: 7 clicks out from full stiff.
Kevin Wing

The standout feature of the ZX-6R in the twisty bits is its killer motor, which has you leaping from turn to turn with an alacrity that makes you think Kawi engineers may have stuffed a ZX-7R motor in there. A smooth gearbox and clutch, great brakes (far better than last year, with a pad mat­erial change and stag­gered piston sizes), and light steering complement the strong engine. The relaxed seating position and smoothness let you ride hard all day. Where the 6R suffers and falls behind the R6 is in the suspension area. The 6R feels as if its damping rates are mis-matched for fast street use, with too much high-speed compression damping and too little rebound damping. Rolling bumps unsettle the chassis some­what and cause a slight wallow, while sharp-edged bumps will cause the front tire to lose contact with the pavement. Even with the adjusters cranked right in, we still wanted more damping.

The CBR600F4 sports maybe the best-damped suspension of the 600s, which, combined with its super-linear powerband and agile chassis, makes it the mount of choice for less experienced riders. Upper mid­range power is on par with the Kawasaki and Yamaha, even though power delivery is quite deceiving—you don’t think the F4 has much steam but in reality you’re hauling ass. More adept riders will find the Honda’s feedback to be muted compared to the R6 or ZX-6R; the bike feels less stable and secure when the pace gets hot, and experienced riders will have less confidence and feel more pressed to keep pace with the Kawa­saki and Yamaha.

It’s common knowledge that the GSX-R600 has one of the best chassis in its class, and our mountain testing served to reinforce that fact. The low clip-ons re­quire a high degree of turn-in effort but once laid in, steering is neutral, the bike is extraordinarily stable, and the suspension soaks up large and small pavement irregularities with ease. The brakes are excellent, too. It’s also common knowledge that the GSX-R is down on steam compared to its 600 class rivals, and the Suzuki suffers when the road straightens out for the tiniest bit. The engine really needs to be spun hard to produce power akin to the Honda, Kawasaki or Yamaha; a capable rider can do it, but it’s hard work.

Triumph’s TT600 also has superb handling characteristics, and is un­cannily similar to the Kawasaki (but with noticeably better suspension action) in feel. Steering is extremely light, due to a combination of high bars and little trail, but not at the expense of stability. The Trumpet has a big advantage in its original equipment, Bridgestone BT-010 tires, which provide excellent grip and compliance. Like the Suzuki, however, the TT is let down somewhat by its engine. While the low-speed throttle response was not so much of an issue in the canyons, the mill needs to be spun even harder than the GSX-R to keep pace with the other bikes. Add in a notchy, long-throw transmission and on tight roads the Trumpet can be a big handful.

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
The Drack data acquisition (Aimsports, 800/718–9090; www.aimsports.com) output from our track testing shows which bikes go fast and where. The graph is segmented, matching each corner and straight according to the map.Sport Rider

Racetrack Rippers
We headed off to our high desert labor­­­atory (otherwise known as Willow Springs) with our quintet of 600s, each wired with Drack data acquisition equipment. With editor Kunitsugu indisposed, associate editor Trevitt was on the hot seat for timed laps on a blisteringly hot day, leading to slightly slower times.

The hands-down king of the racetrack is the Yamaha R6. Its diminutive size pays dividends everywhere, allowing it to brake harder, turn quicker and accelerate faster. Note the speed advantage the YZF has going into Turns One, Three and Seven; the data line simply towers above the other bikes and goes past the others at the peaks, indicating later braking—even with the additional speed. The R6, as we’ve noted before, isn’t the most stable of bikes in the faster corners, especially with sticky rubber fitted. However, even a nasty bobble in Turn Eight—check out the drop in speed at 10,000 feet—and the accompanying hesitation of our man entering Turn Nine couldn’t stop the R6 from posting the quickest time at 1:30.480.

The improvements Kawasaki engineers subjected the new ZX-6R to have paid big dividends at the racetrack, allowing it to post a 1:31.310 lap time. The six-piston brakes are now awesome, offering good feel and progressivity. Combine that with better feedback from the front end, and the Kawi rails into corners. The suspension still needs some work, however; rebound damping rates are definitely on the soft side for track use, and the 6R was moving around a lot over the bumpier sections of the course. With some suspension work, the ZX would easily give the R6 more of a battle for fast lap time.

Suzuki’s GSX-R600 continues to amaze us on the track with its stellar handling and remarkable performance. The Gixxer makes up for its lackadaisical engine with superb brakes and high midcorner speeds. The data traces show the Suzook—with heavier steering and just plain more mass than the R6 and Kawi—enters turns slower than the other bikes, but makes up that gap (and more) in midturn. The GSX-R posts some of the highest speeds exiting corners, but is soon overtaken down the next straight. Still, the Suzuki was a tick behind the Kawasaki at 1:31.600.

Trailing by a smidgen, note on the data traces that the CBR accelerates off turns keeping pace with the R6 (both lines have the same slope), but starts out with too much of a disadvantage right at the apex of the turns. Why? The F4’s muted feedback (and like the R6, some instability caused by the use of grippy race tires) leaves the rider less confident than on the other bikes, and its low footpegs drag easily, exacerbating the situation. Push too hard in right handers, and the exhaust pipe grounds out, levering the rear wheel in the air. More ground clearance would go a long way to allowing the CBR to better its 1:31.780 lap time.

The TT600, like the GSX-R, is hindered by its lack of steam at the racetrack. The chassis is stellar, with good stability, quick steering and excellent brakes providing lots of confidence and keeping corner speeds high. While the Triumph is geared shorter than the other bikes, there is a substantial gap between second and third gears, which has the engine screaming in second or lugging in third through the slower turns of the track. It seems Triumph engineers need to rethink their thermodynamics also; our TT ran super hot on the track, touching 225 degrees after only a handful of laps. While the TT posted the slowest lap time—a 1:31.820—it was just a half-second behind the second fastest ZX-6R.

And Finally…
We love the 600s around here. Generally, during testing, there's the ugly duckling of the class, and when it's time for musical bikes at a stop, someone is left muttering, "Aaww, do I have to ride that thing again?" Not so in this test, all the bikes are that good. Sure, the injection on the Triumph needs some work, and the Suzuki is a bit uncomfortable. But in a group ride on twisty roads or around a racetrack, skill levels will be far more disparate than any difference machinery-wise.

However, in a class where differences are measured in tenths of a mile per hour or hundredths of a second, it’s amazing that Yamaha’s R6 can eke out the advantage that it does. It’s a humbling experience riding the YZF, as it leaves you doubting your ability when you come to the end of a ride. It’s more a question of how fast you want to go, rather than how fast you can go; for most riders, the bike will not be the limiting factor.

While the F4 or ZX-6R are better mounts for everyday use, we’re more than willing to sacrifice comfort and civility for the performance advantage the Yamaha has, and as such the R6 will keep its middleweight crown for another year. But know this: Whereas the previous common choices were the F4 for all-around use or the R6 for all-out canyon strafing, Kawasaki has provided a glimpse into the future, where there will not be compromises necessary. The ZX-6R is a few tweaks away from matching both the Honda and Yamaha at their respective fortes. Get ready for some fireworks.

Test Notes
Honda CBR600F4 Kawasaki ZX-6R Suzuki GSX-R600 Triumph TT600 Yamaha YZF-R6
+ A top pick for less experienced riders + Awesome engine + Chassis and handling from which others are judged + Excellent handling + Scalpel-sharp chassis, awesome motor
+ Most refined chassis/engine combination + Performance and comfort + Fantastic brakes and suspension + Great suspension and OEM tires + We could go on, but you've heard it all before
- Track results hampered by ground clearance - Damping rates could do with some tweaking - More motor, please - Low speed throttle response - A bit small for larger pilots
- Can be a bit humdrum - Um... er... - Hard-core ergos - More power, Mr. Scott! - Twitchy in some situations
x Refinement doesn't have to come at the expense of performance (see ZX-6R) x ZX-6R + suspension work = watch out R6 x "What 2001 GSX-600?" x An excellent first attempt, but needs work x You can't blame the bike if you're slow

SR Opinions
At first, a 600 shootout seemed like such a simple thing. "There's no way a new British bike will challenge the R6, and the ZX-6R is really no different from last year," I thought, "Writing the test should be a piece of cake." Man, was I wrong—I can't believe I actually wanted to write the story. While the R6 is still hands down the best 600 when the road is not straight, it's tough to pick an overall favorite. With the exception of the TT and its unruliness around town, I'd be more than happy to own any one of these bikes.

However, I’ve found myself riding the F4 and ZX-6 most of the time, while the rest gathered dust in a corner of the SR shop. That is, until the next track day or Sunday ride, when I’ll be quick to grab the R6 key. Someone would probably beat me to it though, in which case I’d feign disappointment and take the GSX-R. Stock for stock, I’d still buy the Yamaha and put up with the lethargic bottom end power and being a bit cramped. The YZF is that much better than the others.

But I'm a tinkerer, and it wouldn't take much to put the ZX-6 on par with the R6. The Kawi is way more comfortable, and that motor…wow! With just some suspension bits I could have my cake and eat it too.
—Andrew Trevitt

Now I understand why the 600 class is so ultra-competitive—these bikes are all that good. The new TT600 is a great first-entry for Triumph, but I’d prefer a little more grunt in the midrange, a more aggressive stance, and a 1⁄4-turn throttle, however. The Honda F4 impressed me as usual with its overall refinement, but that refinement makes it almost seem bland.

So it comes down to the ZX6R or the R6. The Kawasaki is definitely better than last year with an improved fork, better brakes and less weight. The traditionally potent Kawasaki engine is still there. Yet it has all the necessary streetbike attributes to create a great all-around sportbike for any level of rider. The Yamaha, however, just flat out kicks ass! Yes, it may not be as comfortable on a cross-country ride, but it does everything I want a pure sport bike to do. The handling is sharp and precise, and the motor just rips! The suspension is perfect for canyon riding or commuting and the brakes are phenomenal. For everyone, but for my money and the type of riding I do on a regular basis, the Yamaha gets my vote.
—Garrett Kai

I was kind of disappointed to see that the Triumph TT600’s carburetion didn’t quite make the transition from world-intro-spec to Stateside intact, and the fact that it wasn’t perfect over there only made it worse when the final product arrived here. It’s unfortunate, because the low-rpm flat spot tends to overshadow what is still a very competent all-around package, especially in the handling department.

It pretty much boiled down to another contest between the R6 and the ZX-6R. The engine and chassis mods have made the new Kaw even better, and for the guy who’s looking for the absolute best 600 streetbike, the ZX-6R is it. Smooth, comfy, with a snappy engine and good handling in a package that can go from track day shredder to long-haul sport-tourer in a hearbeat.

But if you're interested in a 600 that takes no prisoners and demands no compromises when it comes to performance (like I am), then head for the sign of the crossed tuning forks. The R6 just flat rips. End of story.
—Kent Kunitsugu

Not bad for a first date, but I can’t overlook the obvious: the newcomer from the U.K. is under age, and should be avoided. This new entry is in for a lot of dues-paying before it can join in at the competition’s level. To Triumph: Keep up the good work from across the pond, and I’ll check up on the TT600 when it’s reached puberty.

As far as the usual combatants, there seems to be two defined groups—the conservatives vs. the left-wing extremists. The conservatives—led by Team Green and Big Red—follow the theory that balance is essential. But my tastes side with the camp that continues to develop the narrow-focus machine. But although I choose the R6 over the GSX-R, it may be a short-lived victory. The spotlight will soon turn to Suzuki, who I hear plans a middleweight follow-up to its highly touted 750.

The burden lies with Yamaha to not reflect too long on its accomplishments. Either way the enthusiast stands to win.
—Steven Mikolas

2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Honda CBR600F4Kevin Wing
2000 Honda CBR600F4
Suggested retail price: $7899
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line, 4-stroke four
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim under bucket adjustment
Displacement: 599cc
Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 42.5
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Carburetion: 4, 36.5mm Keihin CV
Transmission: 6-speed
Chassis
Front suspension: 43mm cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, 4.9 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: 2, four-piston calipers, 296mm discs
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in. cast-alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast-alloy
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Michelin Hi-Sport
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Michelin Hi-Sport
Rake/trail: 24.0 deg./ 3.8 in. (97mm)
Wheelbase: 54.7 in. (1389mm)
Seat height: 31.9 in. (810mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal. (17L)
Fuel consumption: 36 to 48 mpg, 40 mpg avg.
Weight: 436 lb. (198 kg) wet; 407 lb. (185 kg) dry
Instruments: Speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/dual tripmeters, temperature gauge; lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low fuel, low oil pressure
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Honda CBR600F4 DynoSport Rider
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Kawasaki ZX-6RKevin Wing
2000 Kawasaki ZX-6R
Suggested retail price: $8099
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line, 4-stroke four
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim under bucket adjustment
Displacement: 599cc
Bore x stroke: 66.0 x 43.8
Compression ratio: 12.8:1
Carburetion: 4, 36mm Mikuni CV
Transmission: 6-speed
Chassis
Front suspension: 46mm cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, 5.3 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping, ride height
Front brake: 2, six-piston calipers, 300mm discs
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in. cast-alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast-alloy
Front tire: 120/65-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rake/trail: 23.5 deg./ 3.7 in. (95mm)
Wheelbase: 55.1 in. (1400mm)
Seat height: 32.3 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal. (18L)
Fuel consumption: 35 to 52 mpg, 39 mpg avg.
Weight: 434 lb. (197 kg) wet; 405 lb. (184 kg) dry
Instruments: Speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/tripmeter, LCD coolant temperature gauge/clock; lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low oil pressure, high engine temperature
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Kawasaki ZX-6R DynoSport Rider
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suzuki GSX-R600Kevin Wing
2000 Suzuki GSX-R600
Suggested retail price: $7849
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line, 4-stroke four
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim under bucket adjustment
Displacement: 599cc
Bore x stroke: 65.5 x 44.5
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Carburetion: 4, 36mm Mikuni CV
Transmission: 6-speed
Chassis
Front suspension: 45mm cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, 5.2 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: 2, four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in. cast-alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast-alloy
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rake/trail: 24.0 deg./ 3.8 in. (97mm)
Wheelbase: 54.7 in. (1389mm)
Seat height: 32.7 in. (831mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal. (18L)
Fuel consumption: 36 to 43 mpg, 39 mpg avg.
Weight: 447 lb. (203 kg) wet; 418 lb. (190 kg) dry
Instruments: Speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/dual tripmeters, LCD coolant temperature gauge; lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low fuel, low oil pressure
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
Suzuki GSX-R600 DynoSport Rider
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Triumph TT600Kevin Wing
2000 Triumph TT600
Suggested retail price: $8299
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line, 4-stroke four
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim under bucket adjustment
Displacement: 599cc
Bore x stroke: 68.0 x 41.3
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Carburetion: Sagem fuel injection, 36mm throttle bodies
Transmission: 6-speed
Chassis
Front suspension: 43mm cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: 2, four-piston calipers, 310mm discs
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in. cast-alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast-alloy
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Bridgestone Battlax BT-010
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Bridgestone Battlax BT-010
Rake/trail: 24.0 deg./ 3.2 in. (82mm)
Wheelbase: 54.9 in. (1395mm)
Seat height: 31.9 in. (810mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal. (18L)
Fuel consumption: 34 to 36 mpg, 35 mpg avg.
Weight: 456 lb. (207 kg) wet; 427 lb. (194 kg) dry
Instruments: LCD speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/dual tripmeters/clock, LCD temperature gauge; lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low fuel, low oil pressure/high engine temperature, engine warning
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Triumph TT600 DynoSport Rider
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Yamaha YZF-R6Kevin Wing
2000 Yamaha YZF-R6
Suggested retail price: $7999
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line, 4-stroke four
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim under bucket adjustment
Displacement: 599cc
Bore x stroke: 65.5 x 44.5
Compression ratio: 12.4:1
Carburetion: 4, 37mm Keihin CV
Transmission: 6-speed
Chassis
Front suspension: 43mm cartridge fork, 5.2 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, 5.1 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: 2, four-piston calipers, 298mm discs
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in. cast-alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast-alloy
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Dunlop D207 Sportmax
Rake/trail: 24.0 deg./ 3.2 in. (81mm)
Wheelbase: 54.3 in. (1379mm)
Seat height: 32.3 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal. (17L)
Fuel consumption: 35 to 40 mpg, 38 mpg avg.
Weight: 425 lb. (193 kg) wet; 398 lb. (181 kg) dry
Instruments: Digital speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/dual tripmeters/fuel trip, clock, LCD temperature gauge; lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low fuel, low oil pressure/high engine temperature
2000 Middleweight Shootout: Honda CBR600F4 vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Triumph TT600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6.
2000 Yamaha YZF-R6 DynoSport Rider

Performance Numbers:
Quarter-Mile:
Honda CBR600F4 11.00 @ 124.65
Kawasaki ZX-6R 11.07 @ 123.30
Suzuki GSX-R600 11.13 @ 122.79
Triumph TT600 11.28 @ 125.00
Yamaha YZF-R6 10.99 @ 125.24

Top Speed
Honda CBR600F4 156 mph
Kawasaki ZX-6R 149 mph
Suzuki GSX-R600 148 mph
Triumph TT600 151 mph
Yamaha YZF-R6 153 mph

Roll-on, 60-80 mph
Honda CBR600F4 5.95 sec.
Kawasaki ZX-6R 4.66 sec.
Suzuki GSX-R600 5.27 sec.
Triumph TT600 5.47 sec.
Yamaha YZF-R6 5.06 sec.

Roll-on, 80-100 mph
Honda CBR600F4 5.75 sec.
Kawasaki ZX-6R 5.59 sec.
Suzuki GSX-R600 5.77 sec.
Triumph TT600 5.00 sec.
Yamaha YZF-R6 5.49 sec.

SR Ratings:
Honda CBR600F4 Kawasaki ZX-6R Suzuki GSX-R600 Triumph TT600 Yamaha YZF-R6
Engine power delivery 9.0 10.0 8.0 6.0 10.0
Engine smoothness 9.0 10.0 8.0 8.5 9.0
Transmission 9.0 10.0 9.0 7.0 9.0
Brakes 9.0 9.0 10.0 8.5 10.0
Suspension 9.0 8.5 10.0 9.0 10.0
Chassis and handling 9.0 9.0 10.0 9.0 9.5
Ergonomics 10.0 10.0 7.0 9.5 9.0
Instruments and controls 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0
Quality 9.0 8.5 9.0 7.5 9.0
Fun to ride 9.0 8.5 9.0 7.5 9.0
Rating total 91.0 94.0 88.0 81.0 94.5

This article was originally published in the October 2000 issue of Sport Rider.