Not read the first bits? Head here for Part 1.
2014 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636 vs Suzuki GSX-R600 vs Yamaha YZF-R6 vs Honda CBR600RR vs Triumph Daytona 675
As rush hour traffic closed in, baulking our runs through a chosen set of bends and making us feel guilty about every wheelie stolen off a crest, we retired to an underpass beneath the M20 to chill out, talk favourites and goad Phil the photographer into driving his beloved Hilux up a concrete bank. The contrast between the fun of quiet midday roads and the frustration of too many cars illustrated life with a 600cc supersports bike brilliantly. You’ve got to be committed to get the best out of them. Committed to riding every corner as hard as you dare, committed to hunting out the best roads, committed to getting out when there’s no traffic and committed to duffing up every litre-bike you find. These bikes are all for the corner connoisseur, they’re purists’ machines and, if you’re prepared to work for it, nothing will give you the same satisfaction. There’s nothing like having to work an engine hard to go fast and nothing like being able to use every last drop of power from a motor for more than one gear at a time. So what if 600s aren’t the popular pill of the moment, be different, value your corner speed and scrape your sliders while the beardy bunch are still programming their satnavs.
The changes – did they work?
The swanky race fuel did add an extra element of excitement to the Honda, and a shade more go, but we still wanted more. The C-ABS feels out-dated now – you can’t turn it off and there’s no track mode to let you slide the rear around. Ultimately we were left with the same feeling as last time – the Honda is a brilliant bike hiding in a sensible jumper and it’ll take a few more mods to unleash its full potential. A full exhaust system, gearing changes, tyres and a quickshifter would be our next move. I wouldn’t say that the modifications have completely flipped the results of this test upside down. The Triumph is still the best all round, but now it’s the best with a quickshifter. What the mods have done is close the gaps right up, making it a much harder call. If you like to tinker and put a bit of money into your bikes, the Honda is a blank page waiting to be turned into a masterpiece. No, changing the gearing on the R6 didn’t transform it into a perfect all-round road bike. But what it did do was give it more drive where we needed it, making it even more of a hoot to ride hard. Yep, we managed to make the wildest 600 even wilder, go us. The tyres took the guesswork out of the first ten corners on the Kawasaki and would be our number one mod to make to any of these bikes bar the Triumph. In fact, for multi-seasonal road use we’d even prefer them on that. The Suzuki was loved by all, universally praised on the road and enjoyed on track. We improved the brakes for naff-all money and the Yoshi exhaust Suzuki slipped on made us all rub our thighs making pervy noises. It’s still not the best bike, but with improved brakes it’s a tougher call. If you like blue bikes with great induction noise, the choice is obvious. In terms of pure supersports enjoyment, my winner is the Yamaha R6. The Triumph is a better all-round bike, the Kawasaki is streaks ahead as a road bike, but neither of those made my spine tingle in quite the way the Yamaha did. It’s illogical, irresponsible and idiotic, but that’s the bike I’d choose. With the lower gearing it only got madder and made me laugh louder and that’s the best judge of any success I can think of.
Pics: Phil Steinhardt