car news

Will the 600cc motorcycle return?

January 5, 2024

A four-cylinder 600 cc sports engine flaunted in the price list of many a Japanese brand, until a few years ago. The draft came in. Sporting belly flops fell out of favor. In recent years, naked and adventure bikes with a tad more displacement and a somewhat more comfortable riding position took over the scepter in the mid-range motorcycle segment. Still, some brands are stepping back into 600cc segment with spirited machines that are affordable and should appeal to a “younger” audience.

Honda CBR600RR come back

The Honda CBR600RR disappeared from the price list in 2017. However, Honda is reviving this model in 2024. With more modern technology, a very sharp-lined fairing with winglets and a four-cylinder engine eager to rev higher. Actually, that block is a street version of the 600cc powerplant that Honda supplied for Moto2 road racing between 2010 and 2018.

Racer for the street

The 599 cc four-cylinder produces 89 kW (121 hp) at 14,250 rpm and 63 Nm of torque at 11,500 rpm. It has 9-way adjustable traction control, wheelie control and rear elevator control. The latter system keeps the rear wheel on the ground when braking hard, as is done on racing motorcycles. Furthermore, the Honda CBR600RR has such contemporary ingredients as a color display, three riding modes, quick shifter, shift indicator and lap timer.

‘Mini’ Fireblade

The Honda CBR600RR is actually a smaller version of the CBR1000RR Fireblade. The benjamin offers virtually the same technology developed in part for the track, but in a more manageable concept both in terms of driving and affordability. Only the price has not yet been announced, but it will reportedly be under 14,000 euros.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R also back

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R also returns to showrooms in 2024, priced from 13,799 euros. This has a 636cc four-cylinder with 91 kW (124 hp) of power at 13,000 rpm and 69 Nm of torque at 10,800 rpm. Kawasaki reports that the block with RAM air peaks even to 95.2 kW (129 hp).

Additional downforce

The Ninja ZX-6R is also full of track-worthy technology. So multi-adjustable traction control, driving modes and a quick shifter are all on board. The fairing is already as sharply cut as on the Honda and features openings that should provide additional downforce at high speed. In other words, the winglet function is integrated into the upper part of the fairing. The Kawasaki Intelligent Brake System (KIBS) suppresses rear wheel elevator during hard braking.

Yamaha R6 Race

Yamaha has its illustrious R6 four-cylinder 600cc supersport only without a license plate. This Yamaha R6 Race is intended purely for the track. You are not allowed to go out on the street with it. A race-ready bike for those who do want to ride regularly on the track or for “ambitious young racers,” according to Yamaha. The four-cylinder 599 cc engine delivers 87 kW (118 hp) at 14,500 rpm and 62 Nm of torque at 10,500 rpm. A price is not mentioned, but count on it being many thousands of euros higher than that of the Kawasaki and the Honda. If only because of exotic materials, such as a subframe made of magnesium.

Two-cylinder alternative from Aprilia

There is also a mid-range supersport bike from Aprilia, the RS660. However, this is a two-cylinder and thus does not really fit into the time-honored and once popular formula of spirited 600cc four-in-line engines. Those high in the revs really sound like a racer. However, the Aprilia RS660 does have sharp looks plus a racy riding position. In contrast, the block does not produce as much power as the four-cylinders. The two-pitter is good for 81 kW (100 hp). You can get the RS660 starting at 13,399 euros.