The 600cc class for sport bikes is super exciting. These middleweight, sporty machines are often more accessible than their bigger flagship siblings, yet they can provide just as much fun, if not more.
Often, the old adage “the bigger the better” applies to motorcycles, but that isn’t always the case.
Unless you’re a professional racer or have equivalent skills that you utilize on a track regularly, then you will never be able to truly make the most of a 1000cc supersport like the Yamaha R1.
However, if you choose a 600cc, the chances are you can actually make the most of the engine. You have masses of usable power for both the road and track that you can tap into when you want to push to the limit.
For the thrifty among us, the biggest benefit of a 600cc is how affordable they are compared to bigger bikes. Plus, you still get the sporty styling and race DNA from the bigger leading racers, so it’s a win-win.
Here are some of our favorite 600cc sport bikes.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
- Engine: 636cc, inline-four cylinder, DOHC
- Max power: 127 horsepower
- Max torque: 70 Nm
- Top speed: 164 mph
- Weight: Non-ABS 430 lbs, ABS 434.4 lbs
- MSRP: Non-ABS $11,299, ABS $12,299
What isn’t there to love about the ZX-6R? It’s a 600cc sport bike with incredible performance derived from the Kawasaki Race Department and full of supersport DNA, plus it bears the legendary Ninja name.
It has a sleek design and aggressive styling. This is a motorcycle that commands attention on the road and sets a new standard in its class.
The Ninja ZX-6R boasts a powerful 636cc inline-four engine, which delivers impressive acceleration and responsive performance. The engine’s smooth power delivery and abundant torque make it a joy to ride whether you’re cruising on the highway or pushing the limits on the track.
Kawasaki has utilized a lightweight chassis paired with top shelf suspension components resulting in commanding straight-line performance and precise, agile handling. This allows riders to confidently carve through corners with ease.
Safety and performance features include multiple riding modes, traction control, and a quick-shifter. You can tailor the bike to your needs for the best riding experience at all times.
Ergonomically, the ZX-6R is designed for a comfortable riding position to reduce fatigue on longer rides. The latest generations are slightly more forgiving than others in the sporty riding positions — you can definitely ride for longer on the newer bikes.
The ZX-6R combines power, agility, quality, and the latest technology into one melting pot. The result is a standout motorcycle that appeals to both experienced riders and those new to sports bikes.
Kawasaki Ninja 650
- Engine: 649cc, parallel-twin, DOHC
- Max power: 68 horsepower
- Max torque: 63 Nm
- Top speed: 131 mph
- Weight: Non-ABS 421.2 lbs, ABS 423.4 lbs
- MSRP: Non-ABS $8,299, ABS $8,899
If the ZX-6R doesn’t quite meet your requirements, you might want to look at the Ninja 650, which is my personal favorite of the two.
The Ninja 650 is built to be comfortable, an everyday motorcycle. It still boasts impressive performance, though, and has the Ninja sports styling, but ergonomically, this is the more comfortable option. The riding position is upright, with neutral foot placement and raised handlebars. You don’t need to hunch over the tank unless, of course, you want to.
The Ninja 650’s parallel-twin engine results in a significant decrease in power compared to the ZX-6R. This may appeal to those who aren’t really interested in emulating their favorite racers anymore and have little interest in track days. The 650 produces just enough power and torque for it to be exciting and practical on the road.
You get a choice between ABS and non-ABS models, and Kawasaki Traction Control is standard on both. In terms of tech, though, that’s about it for the Ninja 650.
Think of the ZX-6R as the race-bred Ninja ready to test your limits and the Ninja 650 as the tamer, more sensible older brother that has nothing left to prove.
- Engine: 599cc, four-cylinder
- Max power: 124 horsepower
- Max torque: 69.5 Nm
- Top speed: 155 mph
- Weight: 412 lbs
- MSRP: $11,699
The GSX-R600 has long been revered as one of Suzuki’s flagship sportbikes, and the 2023 model continues to uphold that reputation with its outstanding performance and track-ready capabilities.
At the heart of the GSX-R600 lies a 599cc inline-four engine that delivers exhilarating power and a linear torque curve. The engine’s impressive performance is complemented by a well-tuned exhaust note, adding to the overall excitement of the ride and providing an awesome soundtrack to your adventures.
Handling is where the GSX-R600 truly shines. Riders can confidently navigate tight corners and maintain stability at high speeds. The bike’s aerodynamic design further enhances its stability and contributes to its overall sporty appearance.
Suzuki has also evolved with the times, and the later generation GSX-Rs feature details like a quick-shifter, traction control, and different riding modes. When it comes to comfort, Suzuki has tried to find a balance between necessary sports ergonomics and those that are as comfortable as possible for longer rides. (Read more about the most comfortable sport bike)
Whether the latest model or the oldest, the GSX-R600 is a sport-bike legend that will put a smile on your face.
Aprilia RS 660
- Engine: 659cc, parallel-twin
- Max power: 99 horsepower
- Max torque: 67 Nm
- Top speed: 158 mph
- Weight: 403 lbs
- MSRP: $11,499
Sleek, agile, lightweight, and serious are the best words to describe the RS 660. It is a racer for the road and pretends to be nothing else.
Striking aesthetics are the first thing you notice, which are then backed up by the performance the minute you sit astride the bike. The 659cc, parallel-twin is a rev-happy motor that smoothly delivers all of its power from the bottom to the top without faltering.
Exhilarating acceleration is backed by loads of torque throughout the rev range, so whether you’re in traffic and need to overtake or in a bend and need to shoot out of a corner, the bike has you covered.
In a straight line, the bike feels planted, but in the bends and maneuvering around town, it is agile, precise, and light enough for you to do whatever you need to, whenever you need to.
Like other manufacturers, Aprilia has equipped the RS 660 with the latest technology to enhance safety and performance. Fit and finish are of a high standard, which adds to the fact that the Aprilia is a real head turner, and once turned, you just want to keep looking.
- Engine: 599cc, inline-four cylinder
- Max power: 120 horsepower
- Max torque: 66 Nm
- Top speed: 155 mph
- Weight: 410 lbs
- MSRP: $12,099
Much like the Suzuki GSX-R600, the CBR600RR is a longstanding institution in the world of 600cc sport bikes. It’s a widely respected motorcycle that Honda has developed to be one of the best performing 600cc sport bikes in its class.
The 599cc inline-four delivers exhilarating performance with respectable outputs of 120 horsepower and 66 Nm of torque. The engine is super responsive, with a smooth power delivery so the rider feels in control at all times. The top-end power, where the CBR comes to life, is explosive. This is when it most feels like the race-derived supersport it is.
Built with an aluminum frame and quality suspension, the chassis is light, rigid, and agile, which is the perfect combination for a serious sport bike. You can effortlessly lean the CBR over in corners, and the power will pull you out. On top of that, the braking system is excellent.
It could be argued that the CBR is the more reserved option in terms of styling. It’s perhaps not as aggressive as something like the Ninja ZX-6R. However, it oozes class and charm. Maybe this 600cc sport bike is for the more mature rider who doesn’t want to be super flashy.
- Engine: 649cc, inline-four cylinder
- Max power: 94 horsepower
- Max torque: 63 Nm
- Top speed: 149 mph
- Weight: 445 lbs
- MSRP: $9,899
If the Ninja 650 is the tamer ZX-6R for Kawasaki, then the CBR650R is the same for Honda’s CBR600RR. The CBR650R is a more relaxed model. It has an upright riding position for all day riding comfort and optimum control.
The model is still very much equipped in the power department, with 94 horsepower and 63 Nm of torque, which is nothing to scoff at. If the rider wants to engage in sporty riding, then they’ve got plenty of power from the motor to play with.
Honda has managed to mix power, weight, and maneuverability with excellent results.
The CBR650R is suitable for commuting as well as weekend fun but can also be taken to the track and pushed to the limit with the best of them.
- Engine: 689cc, inline-twin cylinder
- Max power: 72 horsepower
- Max torque: 67.7 Nm
- Top speed: 143 mph
- Weight: 414 lbs
- MSRP: $9,199
Admittedly, the R7 is technically not a 600cc, but given that Yamaha no longer has a 600cc sport bike for the road and the 700cc class is pretty slim pickings, I thought it fair to include it.
The new Yamaha YZF-R7 is a thrilling addition to Yamaha’s legendary R-series lineup, offering a perfect blend of performance, agility, and style. This middleweight sportbike pays homage to the iconic R7 of the past while incorporating modern engineering and advanced features.
The return of the R7 was the demise of the R6. It was a sure sign that Yamaha agreed with the public that the original R7 was one of the best sport bikes to ever exist.
At the core of the R7 is the twin-cylinder, 689cc engine that generates explosive acceleration and more than enough power to fulfill thrill-seekers’ needs. The chassis is ultra thin and lightweight for a super responsive handling experience that may be the best in the middleweight class.
A full TFT display brings the new generation R7 into modern times, along with tech features like adjustable riding modes that do the same. Twin LED headlights, sharp lines, and sleek bodywork all create a fantastic looking bike with bags of attitude that make it stand out from the crowd.