By John Burns
In those days, the rate of publication wasn’t anything like it is today, and so Plummer and Roland Sands and the other three wise men were able to spend not only days at Willow Springs, but even more time at SoCal’s finest dragstrips, wearing out clutches and making passes in an apparently tireless effort to name 600 numero uno – at a time when that class was hugely important. Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki all still produce great 600 supersport bikes, but it’s not like it was 19 years ago.
1999 600cc Supersport Shootout
LOS ANGELES February 23, 1999
The hype has been intense: At the end of ’98, pervasive rumors claimed that Yamaha was developing a 600 supersport counterpart to their ground-breaking YZF-R1. Honda, it was said, was tooling up a fuel-injected replacement to the F3. Suzuki? Nothing new here, they just kicked butt on the race track, taking home the coveted AMA 600cc Supersport Championship in 1998 on their supposedly out-dated GSX-R600.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki redesigned the ZX-6R, melding both track performance with street-going comfort, offering a combination of light weight, comfort and performance that proved so popular in Great Britain that for the first time in years the ZX-6R outsold Honda’s CBR600F3.
Parity in the 600 class, it seems, had been achieved. Pete Rozelle wept from his luxury box in the sky. Some of the rhetoric proved to be true: Both Honda and Yamaha developed two all-new 600cc supersports: The still-carbureted but significantly refined CBR600F4 and the R1’s close cousin, Yamaha’s YZF-R6, respectively.
<img title="MO Editor Brent Plummer, AMA Pro Thunder and 250 Grand …read more