RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Sometimes is takes a while before you’ve spotted the difference when they stand next to one another. The 600cc vs 1000cc sport bikes. A fews stickers give you a hint to which category a certain bike belongs. What are the pros and cons of both categories? And what’s better? A 600cc sport bike or a 1000cc one?
On average, a 1000cc sport bike has 70% more horsepower than a 600cc sport bike, and often only weighs 6% more. So based on stats, one could quickly judge that 1000cc sport bikes are better than 1000cc sport bikes. But it’s not that black and white. And the choice is most definitely not that easy to make.
Both categories have their pros and cons. And those pros and cons are different for road riding and racing. Let’s talk about 600cc vs 1000cc sport bikes on the road first.
A pro of a 1000cc sport bike is the more low-down torque that comes with the bigger engine and more power. This requires less gear shifting, which on its turn ensures a more relaxed ride. On the other hand, most riders feel like a 600cc sport bike is already too fast for the average road riding motorcyclist. So riding a 1000cc sport bike on the streets would be a case of looking for trouble.
You might think “It can’t differ that much”, when we talk about a power difference. But think again lovely. For example; the average jump in power for the Japanese sport bikes of modern days is 70%. Think of an average of 115 hp for a 600cc sport bike and a whopping 196 hp for a 1000cc sport bike. Combine that with a weight average that just differs by 6%. So it might be clear now that it really differs that much.
Both categories were made with just one purpose; to go fast around a race track. Since the public roads aren’t really safe to race – and aren’t meant to either – you could imagine that a 600cc sport bike ridden in high revs is already way too much.
But that riding in high revs on a 600cc sport bike is also one of its cons. At least, if you prefer a relaxed ride. ‘Cause riding in high revs is often far from relaxed. But that’s where a 600cc sport bike’s power range is. At 3.500 rpm, you’ve got nothing. For most lightweight Japanese sport bikes, the torque kicks in at 7.000 rpm. Got a long ride on the roads ahead? Then that means shifting gears, a lot.
That’s why certain riders prefer 1000cc sport bikes on the road. ‘Cause you’ll get going at any amount of revs in basically any gear (exceptions exist of course). So if you are too lazy to shift gears often, the extra power and torque of a 1000cc sport bike could turn into a pro on the roads. And quickly turn into a con when you are a bit heavy fisted..
The 600cc bikes are mostly a bit more forgiving too, compared to 1000cc bikes. They allow you to make a little error without immediate huge consequences.
If you don’t care about power, you might make the choice between a 600cc vs 1000cc sport bike based on a different factor. Size. 600cc sport bikes are often just a bit shorter and narrower than a 1000cc motorcycle. So for smaller motorcyclists they are easier to get on. And ride, since everything is within reach.
On the other side of the medal, the 1000cc sport bikes are often bigger. And thus provide taller riders with more space to fold their long legs. As fas as ‘space’ goes on a sport bike. So as a tall motorcyclist, you might prefer a 1000cc sport bike simply based on comfort.
Once you set your first steps in the racing world, you will quickly hear the ‘big boys’ say; “Go get a true bike. A 1000cc one!” It’s almost like you aren’t truly racing unless you ride a heavy, powerful sport bike. Which – of course – isn’t true. But it almost seems like it
But don’t get fooled. Yes, a 1000cc sport bike demands some great handling skills. And you could argue that if you want to be the fastest on the average track or track day, you would need to ride a 1000cc bike. That is, if your skills match all that power. Does that mean you can’t be fast on a 600 cc track bike? Definitely not! It’s just different.
In terms of 600cc vs 1000cc sport bikes, the 1000cc sport bike will win when it comes to top speed. Which is obvious, since it has a bigger and more powerful engine. Does that mean you will get taken over by 1000cc sport bikes every time on the straight, on every track, when you are a 600cc rider? Nope!
Certain 600cc sport bike actually run really well. And fast. The Yamaha R6 for example. Especially the ones build from 2006 to 2009. Those little 600cc sport bikes run so well. If the track layout allows you to take your higher corner speed with you onto the straight, a 1000cc sport bike rider really has to give his all to overtake you. Especially when the straight isn’t that long. You will also be able to brake later with your 600cc bike for turn one. And again take more corner speed into that turn. So riding a 600cc sport bike also has its advantages on track.
Unless that track is similar to Mugello with its long straight or Phillip Island with its very quick overall flow. Then those 1000cc bikes do have a significant advantage over the 600cc sport bikes.
The biggest pro of riding a 600cc sport bike on track is that is is easier to handle. Or better said, it is way more agile than a 1000cc motorcycle. It carries more corner speed due to its slightly shorter chassis and wheel base. And an overall weight that is just that bit lighter. It is slightly easier to ride a 600cc to its limits and get the most out of it. And still, it will take you quite some time to actually do so. For most of us, the 600cc sport bikes are already a handful to handle.
This agile handling allows for riding different lines on a 600cc sport bike than you would do on a 1000cc bike. The lines on track for a 600cc rider are rounder in turns, which allows you to carry your faster corner speed.
Since the 1000cc bikes are not about corner speed, but about using all that extra power (which you can’t in a turn), you ride more V-shaped lines in turns. Which basically means; be quick for your corner entry. Ride it into the V, get on the brakes to get it stopped for the turn and flick it into the direction you need to go. Then get on the throttle as soon as possible, whenever you get the bike upright.
You win the most with a 1000cc sport bike when you are quick at corner entry, know how to brake properly and most of all, use all its power at corner exit. And this is where most riders struggle when they move from a 600cc to a 1000cc sport bike on track. You need to adjust your riding and the lines you are used to. Your braking markers will change too, so basically you need to figure it all out all over again. And that takes times.
We could go on for hours about the technological differences between 600cc and 1000cc sport bikes. Or about the difference in riding experience. But there is one other factor that can be the one to let you make the choice between a 600cc or 1000cc sport bike; looks.
On your day off, you walk through town. You stroll along the terraces and suddenly, you stop. And stare. There is stands, in all its glory. It is marvelous. You immediately fall in love, head over heels. You have found your dream bike. With its sharp design, its glorious looks and enchanting charm. You Google it and find out it is a 2012 Yamaha R1. Or maybe it is an Aprilia RSV4 RF from 2017.. Or a Triumph Daytona 675R.
The first two bikes are rapid 1000cc sport bikes. “Dang.. that’s a lot of power. Let’s find a 600cc version.” you think. The search begins. And will leave you sad and alone. Because their 600cc equivalents don’t look the same. The 2012 Yamaha R6 just doesn’t have the same aggressive look as the R1 has and made you fall in love with it. The 2017 Aprilia RSV4 didn’t even have a 600cc equivalent for years. The Aprilia RS 660 was introduced on the EICMA motorcycle fair in 2019. And doesn’t look like the 2017 RSV4 at all. So getting a smaller version of those bikes is just a no go. Did you truly fall in love with one of those two superbikes? And determined to get one? Then you end up with a 1000cc, whether you like it or not.
The same thing goes for the Triumph Daytona 675R, but the other way around. Love the looks and the design of that very stylish little sport bike? But you want a bit more power? Or do you prefer 1000cc sport bikes ‘just because’? And want a 1000cc version of it? Then you also end up sad and alone. Or with the 675cc and be happy with it. Because honestly, you don’t have anything to complain when you are a Daytona 675R owner. They are bloody brilliant.
So technology and riding experience aren’t always the determining factor. Should you favor looks about riding pleasure? That is a discussion for another time. But I would be the last to judge you for buying a bike based on its looks. I did too. And luckily, that bike handles like a dream and fully suits my riding style. But I full-heartedly confess it were the looks that made me do it.
The 600cc vs 1000cc sport bike discussion is as old as time. Most 600cc sport bikes are already too fast for public roads. Due to their nimble and agile character, they are playful to ride. But that also means shifting gears quite frequently. If you are a fan of ‘engaged riding’ then that’s no problem at all. Are you more of a lazy rider? (Yes, we’ve said it..)
Then you might lean towards a 1000cc sport bike, since you have to shift gears less often. But they are also bigger, the seat height is often a bit higher and they are slightly heavier. In the end, it all comes down to preferences.
On an average track day, most riders will be faster on a 600cc sport bike. They are just slightly more forgiving and easier to handle. Are you a really, really skilled rider? And does the track allow you to use all that power of that 1000cc of yours? Then you will be the quickest man or woman on track. But that’s a level most of us won’t reach that quickly.
If riding experience and technology doesn’t give you enough input to make the choice between a 600cc or 1000cc sport bike, then the design and looks might. Some 1000cc sport bikes just don’t have a 600cc equivalent that looks similar. Or the 600cc bike doesn’t come in a 1000cc look-a-like.
All in all, the 600cc vs 1000cc sport bike dilemma is very personal. And both categories have their strengths and challenges. Try both and find out what suits you. It’s the only and the best advice we can give you. And no, you are no pussy for choosing a 600cc bike. Neither are you a hero when you go with the 1000cc rocket. You are awesome, no matter what you choose. ‘Cause you ride a sport bike. And we love them. Hence our little ode to the sport bike segment.