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MC Online Test: Mille R, Gixxer 1K, ZX636B

2484 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Normski
Motorcycle Online has an interesting recent online comparo of their three sportbike shootout winners: 2003 ZX636B vs. RSV Mille R vs. GSX-R1000.

Generally, they conclude the ZX is “easiest to go fast on,” and “most fun on tighter tracks.” And let’s not forget, “easiest on the wallet!” Fastest lap of the day was turned on the ZX (California Speedway, Fontana CA). John Burns, MO editor, turned his slowest lap times on the ZX, however. Hmm.

Bottom line is guys with more track time favored the Beast Bike. It scared the crap out of 2/3 the testers. The Gixxer has more absolute potential for faster laps due in part to the humongous power advantage, assuming you can put it to ground. The Suzuki’s a marvelous motorcycle, though it won’t suffer amateurs without biting back, hard.

The Mille felt “underpowered” to these guys. I can relate: yes, it’s roughly 111 rwhp with significant low-end grunt, but weighs about 490 lbs full of gas. The ZX isn’t far behind in hp, with an honest 75 lb weight delta. I’ve owned both, and ridden each at the track: the weight difference cannot be understated. The Mille’s ultra-stable chassis is one thing, pushing the front through turns and being outrun on the straights by fast 600s another. Take that as you will: YMMV.

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Was this brought on by my talk of buying a new Mille???:D

I have the Superbike issue where they compare the winners of all their contests. They pitted the ZX-636R vs. GSX-R 1000 vs. Hayabusa vs. Mille R. They all loved the ZX6 but stated it felt slow and that it made you work harder than any other of the bikes. *BIG SURPRISE* the GSX-R won the contest. Over all though most everyone loved the 6R.
Interesting still, but I love that new Mille...If I had an extra 17-18G laying around, ohhh the possibilities...
Huh uh, Ken: didn’t know you wanted a Mille!

I bought the '03 ZX636B to rebuild skills I’d let slide (pun intended). Since the ZX is a trackbike-only for me, and fairly unintimidating in terms of weight and power, I personally need a 150 rwhp Gixxer like I need colon cancer.

But the Gixxer obviously works. Matt Mladin’s living proof-of-concept. The ZX works, too, in a different way.

Milles are another story. I’ll give my $.02.

Last week I sold a Y2K Mille standard with 8K miles, with some reluctance. I owned it from new, May 2000. Mods included pipe, chip, sprockets, Penske shock, Helibars, and clutch slave cylinder. Power was 111 rwhp (DynoJet), wet weight about 475 lbs, cost about $12K plus tax.

They’ve changed somewhat 2000-2003, but not radically: evolution vs. revolution. The ‘03s have radial calipers and a few other goodies. I think my Y2K is a reasonable comparison. (The U.S. Y2K bikes equal 1999 models in other countries; don’t ask. It’s titled Y2K.)

I could not ride the bike fast on the track. The Mille isn’t “slow” but suffers on the top end compared to inlines, even 600s: tracks where I’d hit 137 mph on the front straight, 600s, 750s, and 1000s hit 150-175mph. The Aprilia drove out of corners much better, however, due to excellent torque. Given sufficient room, the Mille might catch up, but twins often run out of steam at the top end (when most inlines come on the horsepower).

My real issue was bike weight distribution: Milles are top-heavy and the riding position’s such that hanging off can be a chore. I could feel the bike’s weight pushing into turns. My front brake rotors were suspect at 8K miles and might have been already warped, adding to the fun.

To be fair, there are tons of guys who can ride Milles fast. For whatever reason, I could not. (Being something of a fatass probably does not help my cause, though I can ride the ZX and my Blackbird fairly fast). Anyway, after attempting to solve the Aprilia problem by writing checks, I gave up. A complete solution (to a Mille standard) includes an Ohlins or Penske shock, OZ wheels, Traxxion Dynamics forks, and a Stage II engine job from Blackman’s Cycle (or whoever). Throw another three to ten grand at it, everything’s great. Mille R's make better starting platforms for serious performance.

Or, buy an '03 ZX636B for $7-8K, which works better on the track right out of the box. Hmm: nineteen grand (for a Mille R, out the door) vs. eight, hmm.

On the plus side, a properly-setup (mostly stock) Mille makes a great street sport or hooligan bike. In that capacity, it served me well two years (’00 and ’01). They put power to ground exceptionally well. The street generally favors liter bikes, IMO, and there are plenty of opportunities for big twins to torque around. Personally, I think the Rotax liter twin is best suited to the Tuano R, buy YMMV.

To do it again, I’d have bought a Mille R. The price delta buys Ohlins and OZ wheels, plus slick graphics. The wheels and suspension are a huge improvement and worth the money. I spent a lot on upgrades and still didn’t have an ‘R’ equivalent.

Resale on Aprilias in the U.S. currently totally sucks. Under no circumstances would I buy a new Mille or Mille R, unless I had money to burn. Cost for a new R, including tax and setup, equals a wallet-busting nineteen or twenty grand in WA State, e.g. I’ve seen ’01 and ’02 Rs in excellent condition used for ten to twelve grand, .2000.5’s for nine. In fact ApriliaForum has a couple listed right now.

There exist used Haga reps for a good price, too. That sure is a pretty bike. The Edwards rep is even nicer, and almost worth what they ask for it with the Akrapovic pipe and other bits.

If you want a pretty, somewhat exotic, definitely exclusive, reliable sportbike, by all means buy a Mille. For pure functionality, spend far less and buy a JPN sportbike (e.g. 636, Gixxer 750 or 1000, etc.).

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I work at an Aprilia/Moto Guzzi/Ducati dealership here and had the Aprilia rep here with the new for '04 Mille and was very impressed. After riding the Owner's Tuono Racing I was instantly hooked. The only reason I would consider buying this bike (which I too believe is REALLY expensive) is because of the unique opportunity I have working here. I can get it at cost. That makes one hell of a difference in my eyes. Otherwise, I'd be riding my 6R off into the sunset for the next 76 years. I'm still going to keep the 6R because it's a downright screamer in every way. I also like the look of her over just about every bike out there. I must say though that the new Mille is like sex on wheels in person. And after working here I see that they are relatively sound mechanicly (spelling??) and the Mechanics here seem to really like them. So, as said before, what do you think if I can get it at cost??
Just in case you haven't seen it, here's a pic of the new Mille:

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I don't know who did the road test, but I'd hedge bet if some real road racers did the testing, either the Thou or the Mille would come out on top. That's why I refuse to buy into road tests from the magazines anymore - with a distinct exception to Roadracing World - since most of the guys aren't winning racers!

Most people on this forum, and most street riders and some licensed road racers, would probably get faster lap times at the track on an SV-650 over their own ZX-6R, let alone a beast like a Gixxer Thou or Mille. Pretty simple really, the thing doesn't try to kill you when you open the throttle!

When there's a road test done by Mladin (as much of a prick he is) Valentino, Shakey, and Nicky or Colin, I'll be oblidged to actually read into what they say. For now, I'll stick to Roadracing World's comments - damn I miss the old Fast Bikes mag.
Originally posted by Strong Bad

damn I miss the old Fast Bikes mag.
Amen to that. Fast Bikes was one of the best.
Shakey, Hammer, Frosty Bollox, Jezza McWill and the rest of the gang just cracked me up. They rated the ZX-6R top all-round for the 2000 600's shoot out and what the fuck do you know - the bike goes #1 in WSS. Not the easiest magazine to read since you had to look hard for some of the text but that was just part of what gave it character. I still pull out an old issue or three and read since it's such good info.
I don't take Burns and those guys at Motorcycle Online too seriously, either, though they make a good go of it. I found the test interesting because the guys without much experience on liter inlines rode the Mille and ZX faster, whereas Burns rode the Gixxer faster. Indeed, bottom line appears to be an experience issue.

Roadracing World is, well, all about track riding. Most guys on this forum don't ride on the track, a shame in my mind. I too have the recent issue comparing the current 600s, and understand clearly why the ZX "won" and the others did not. During the test, those boys defined each bikes strengths and weaknesses quite clearly. I respect that. For track tests, pick up RW. Road tests, read Burns & Co. on M.O., or Motorcyclist, Cycle, Brit mags, etc.

End of July I attended a track day with the local Kawasaki dealer. One of the crue I met is an old hand at racing, in his late 40's or early 50's. He had an '03 silver Gixxer 1K. He turned astounding lap times without really trying, horsepowering into turns with a lot more speed than I could (or would) carry on the ZX, and I like to think I’m turning decent lap times for a non-racing situation.

The gentleman in question is a seasoned veteran of amateur roadracing. As I understand, he's got more than ten seasons under the belt, probably a thousand laps at this particular track. By any measurement, he's an expert. I'm sure the Gixxer is a piece of cake to ride for those with sufficient discipline, mostly because guys like that know the meaning of the word “respect.” There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots.

The rest of us can't or won't spend enough time at the racetrack to develop that iron discipline. I'll be glad to get five track days in this year, and that'll be a stretch. Five track days, maybe 350 laps: that's my year, weekend-warrior type I am. Liter inline sportbikes scare the shit out of me, as they would any sane & experienced rider. I know my limits, and currently seek to find them on the ZX636B. I understand and accept the ZX's limits, namely horsepower (compared to certain other bikes, at least). As in Ju-Jitsu, weakness can sometimes be strength, however.

The ZX is the right bike for me, at this particular time. When, and if, that changes I'll trade it in without a moment's hesitation. I greatly respect and admire those who can ride a modern liter inline to anything close to potential at the track. I can't, and won't, so don’t wish to waste my time and kick my own ass trying (at this time).

Strong Bad’s comments about the SV650 illustrate the point quite well. Here’s an example: at the local track, Pacific Raceways, lap times below 1’50” are “fast” by most standards. Top guys in the 600 Superbike class turn 1’31” or so on R6s, Gixxers, and ZX6RRs; 650 Twins, about 1’35” (SV650s).

Point being, the SV guys ain’t a helluva lot behind the 600 inline riders, despite a substantial horsepower deficit. Every top guy in 650 Twins rides the damn wheels off the SV: it’s a great design and offers a lot, for what it is (a middleweight standard with great handling and decent horsepower). I maintain middleweights, be they twins or inline fours, demand conscientious riding to maximize corner speed and late braking. There’s plenty to be learned right there.

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DRB, just a small point to make about the Mille.

Dont forget that the Mille speedometer is very accurate and the sensor is run off the back wheel. (meaning that any gearing changes will not make a difference to the reading).

Where you hit 137 at the track, this will be a true figure (or near as dammit). The 600/750/1000's admittedly may have a higher figure but dont forget their speedos may be as much as 15-20mph out. (even on standard gearing...let alone when the gearing has been altered).

So, lets say you hit 137 true....they may only be hitting 140-145 true, but with a speedo showing say, 155-160.

(I previously had a (UK) 2000 RSV-R prior to my 03 B1).

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