2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 Revealed

Gixxers get a major overhaul, and a faired version of the Bandit 1250 debuts


American Suzuki surprised the industry last year by deciding not to import 2010 streetbikes while it tried to clear inventory in a depressed market. But for 2011, it’s rebounding in a big way with the introduction of a comprehensively reworked GSX-R600 and its identical-twin brother, the GSX-R750.

The GSX-R series is integral to Suzuki, so the Gixxer 600 and 750 received a major investment in technology and updates.

“We built our brand from the GSX-Rs,” said Steve Bartolamedi, American Suzuki’s senior communications manager. More than 300,000 Gixxers have been sold over the years, and the GSX-R600 has long been America’s best-selling sportbike.

The 2011 GSX-R600 has been overhauled from top to bottom, losing around 20 lbs in the process.

An all-new frame underpins the GSX-R revisions, trimmed by nearly 3 lbs on its own. This, plus a plethora of other weight-saving items, has resulted in a Gixxer some 20 lbs lighter than previous. An anticipated 410-lb curb weight (full of 4.5 gallons of fuel) would tie the Gix Six with the class lightweight, Honda CBR600RR.

Yep, that’s Italian Brembo calipers on a Japanese bike. The Showa Big Piston Fork is also new for 2011.New front-end components are more than 2 lbs lighter and promise improved performance. A 41mm Showa Big Piston Fork weighs less and offers better damping performance than a conventional fork, as we’ve learned from a similar fork on Kawasaki’s ZX-6R. And, in a surprise move, the Gixxer receives radially mounted Brembo monoblock brake calipers, the only Japanese bike we can think of with the respected Italian binders.  

Smaller front and rear axles and wheel hubs are claimed to reduce weight by a significant 1.3 lbs, and the fully adjustable Showa shock now uses aluminum seats instead of steel for a 90-gram reduction in weight.

Although final specifications aren’t yet available, it appears as if the previous bike’s steering geometry numbers are retained. However, the new frame (with sections as thin as 3mm) tightens up the wheelbase by 15mm. A new swingarm is the same length as previous, but it’s now constructed from three melted/gravity-cast sections instead of five high-pressure plate castings.

Powertrain

The GSX-R’s 599cc mill is architecturally unchanged, retaining the same bore and stroke (67.0 x 42.5mm) as the existing bike and every other 600 supersport. But everything inside has been updated, and the motor has been rotated 3 degrees more upright. It’s also a massive 4.4 lbs lighter.

Shorter-skirt pistons have 14% less mass, and the connecting rods are 12% lighter. New cams with reduced overlap are purported to boost low- to mid-range power, and they continue to actuate 16 titanium valves. New vent holes between cylinders reduce mechanical pumping losses.

Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) technology carries over, now better directing fuel into the combustion chamber via a steeper angle of the throttle bodies to improve responsiveness. A smaller ECU shaves 330 grams of weight and allowed it to be relocated in front of the airbox. Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) now has just two settings instead of three, and the softer setting now defaults to full power when the throttle is pinned.

A considerable 3.75 lbs was pared from the exhaust system’s weight, thanks to thinner-wall header tubing and a smaller under-engine pre-chamber and titanium muffler. Fuel economy is said to be improved by 10%, somewhat offset by the new requirement for premium gas.

Seen here is the GSX-R750’s new titanium muffler, not quite as light as the exhaust system on the 600.

We’re told to expect 123 crankshaft horsepower delivered at 13,500 rpm, which should translate into about 108 horses at the rear wheel. This should put it at or near the top of the herd. Torque peaks at 11,500 rpm with 51.3 ft-lb measured at the crankshaft.

The transmission has its internal gearing juggled, now with a slightly taller first gear and closer spacing throughout its six speeds. Suzuki reps allege smoother shifting along with the gearbox being 185 grams lighter.

Ergonomics

The GSX-R600 retains the lowest-in-class seat height of 31.8 inches, and its narrower shape allows short legs a direct path to the ground. The clip-on handlebars are now spread out 1 degree extra for better leverage, and a lower tank top allows easier tucking in. Footpegs retain their class-exclusive three-position adjustability and are lighter by 53 grams.

A compact instrument panel is borrowed from the GSX-R1000, now including a lap timer and a four-step adjustable shift light. A large analog tach is augmented by an LCD panel with speed, gear position, clock and dual tripmeters.

The 2011 GSX-R600/750’s new instrument panel.

Style and Bodywork

Although there is nothing revolutionary about the Gixxer’s new styling, the bodywork has special appeal beyond its sporty appearance and shorter overhangs. Suzuki has somehow clipped off 7.5 lbs from the plastic, partially by reducing the piece count from 40 to 32. As previous, props go to Suzuki for having cleanly integrated turn signals. The fronts are in the mirrors; the rears are sculpted into the tailsection.

The Gixxers get a fresh face for 2011.The vertically stacked headlight design ties in to the Gixxer Thou’s look and is a substantial 1.2 lbs lighter. It’s flanked by a quartet of angular intake slots that funnel cool, pressurized air into the airbox and is a nice departure from the now-ubiquitous centrally located ducts. The windscreen is lightly smoked instead of plain clear.

The 2011 GSX-R600 seems to have all the ingredients to vault it to the top end of the 600cc sportbike class, and we’re excited to sample it to find out how well its lighter weight and Brembo brakes work early in the New Year.

“It’s hard for me to explain the leap we made with this model,” said Derek Schoeberle, American Suzuki’s field service manager and one of the few people outside Japan to have ridden the new Gixxer.

This exciting new GSX-R is scheduled to arrive in dealers in February or March for a list price of $11,599. You’ll have your choice of the familiar Suzuki blue and white or a black-and-silver combo.

The GSX-R600 looks more finely finished than ever.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R750

The 749cc version of the Gixxer 600 makes an appreciated companion, sharing virtually all the updates its little brother inherited this year. It, too, has lost about 20 lbs, now with a stated curb weight of 416 lbs – that’s just 6 lbs more than the 600.

But the best news is that Suzuki has juggled the 750’s MSRP in relation to the 600. Instead of the $1300 difference in 2009, the added cost for the 750cc version is now just $400!

The 2011 GSX-R750 profile shows its blunter nose and redesigned exhaust. MSRP is $11,999, only 400 clams more than the 600 but with 20% extra power!

The GSX-R750’s engine is a bored and stroked (70.0 x 48.7mm) 600 motor, and it’s reputed to produce 148 crankshaft hp at 13,200 rpm, which should translate into 130-plus ponies at the rear wheel.

This amount of power in a 400-lb chassis will undoubtedly translate into serious fun on the racetrack, especially when considering the shorter and lighter chassis and Brembo equipment.

2011 Suzuki GSX1250FA

The other new bike we saw the Suzuki dealer meeting – with 600 dealers and 1400 attendees – is an update on the venerable Bandit 1250, now in a fully faired sporty-touring iteration.

The Bandit was last seen in Suzuki’s 2008 lineup, and this new version, called the GSX1250FA, takes it up a level. It’s a bike that was introduced in world markets in 2010, but it’s a new addition to American Suzuki’s lineup.

And it looks like a bike right for these times, as it offers real-world usability, long-distance comfort , a midrange-heavy big-bore motor and anti-lock-braking safety, all at a very reasonable list price of $11,599.

The 2011 GSX1250FA takes the Bandit to a sleeker, sport-touring angle with its full fairing and standard ABS brakes.

The FA uses a 1255cc four-cylinder for power, fuel-injected for quick response and counterbalanced for smoothness. The Bandit ST (my words)’s chassis is a basic steel-tube frame, with its rake and trail a moderately sporty 25.2 degrees and 104mm, respectively, scaling in at 567 lbs full of fuel.

Utility is promised by the standard-equipment centerstand and availability of hard luggage, including a tail trunk. The protective bodywork and windscreen will send air around its rider while draining its 5.0-gallon fuel capacity. The FA’s broad seat is comfortably low at 31.7 inches, and, if more legroom is needed, it can be raised nearly an inch by flipping its platform.

This is a lot of bike for less than 12K, even if the old Bandit retailed for less than $9000, as prices for Japanese motorcycles keep on climbing due to an unfavorable exchange rate. It’s easy to see how the GSX will appeal to aging sportbike pilots.

And with the introduction of the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 that rings in at $12K, we’ll have to schedule a shootout when we first see the GSX1250FA in December.

Related Reading
2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 Unveiled
2009 Supersport Shootout
2009 Supersport Racetrack Shootout
2008 Suzuki GSX-R600 Review
2009 GSX-R1000 Review
2009 Suzuki Dealer Show Report
2001 Suzuki Bandit 1200S
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