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AFTER A YEAR WITHOUT ANY NEW GSX-RS, THE 600 GETS RAMPED UP FOR BATTLE

one of the big claims that Suzuki makes with the new bike is that it has the best power-to-weight ratio in the class. Triumph made a pretty good go of it in World Supersport, and Yamaha is back, so why not Suzuki? Maybe we will see some wild-card entries down the road, but for now Suzuki isn't making much of a mention of it.

Suzuki chose the famed Barber Motorsports Park racetrack to introduce the all-new 2011 GSX-R600 and our first night featured a sit-down with Suzuki personnel and even some of their Japanese engineers at the amazing Barber Museum. It was there that Suzuki also told us that more than 360,000 GSX-Rs have been sold in the U.S. since 1986. Holy cow...

The big question: How did they accomplish the task of getting the newest GSX-R600 to have the best power-to-weight ratio of any 600cc sportbike? There are plenty of ways of getting to that point and Suzuki engineers seem to have tackled most of them in attempting to get the 600 to where they wanted it to be.

The engineers' main focus going into the project was to make the GSX-R600 lighter, faster and better handling, and Barber would provide a good test of whether or not that goal had been accomplished.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the track in the morning it was damp and there was plenty of moisture in the air. But we were there to ride - rain or shine - and

ride we did. Our first laps were to be behind former 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz so I figured I was in good hands. I took my time at first since I had no clue where I was going. I also figured this was a good opportunity to sample the B mode of Suzuki's Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS). By simply flipping a switch with a finger on your left hand, you can choose any mode you want. And all of this has been made a bit easier because the selector switch has been relocated to the front side of the left handlebar cluster, making the on-the-fly changes more simple. While on previous models there were three modes to choose from, Suzuki has eliminated one of the modes and now there are just two - A and B.

As I made my way around the track, I found the little GSX-R was quite easy to navigate. Although I was nowhere close to a proper pace, I was still thankful for the Bridgestone BT-016S -the tires that are standard issue on the new GSX-R600. And tires that worked well all day.

There were plenty of damp patches of pavement to navigate and with all the elevation changes that Barber throws at you it's

pretty easy to get caught out, but my comfort level rose quickly - a testament to how easy the bike is to ride and how well the tires performed.

As the pace increased, you could really feel how the new

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