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2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R First Ride Review – Team Green’s attempt to revitalize the 600 class

2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Review – First Ride : Team Green’s attempt to revitalize the 600 class

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For the previous decade we’ve all been witness to the regular decline of the 600 supersport class. It’s superb to take into consideration, particularly contemplating that, earlier than the financial recession, the 4 Japanese gamers on this exact same class have been pumping out model new contenders each different yr! Since then, nevertheless, 600s have develop into greater than stagnant – the class has been teetering on life help. Suzuki and Honda have soldiered on with the similar GSX-R600 and CBR600RRfor years – the latter even halting gross sales in Europe due to growing emissions requirements and declining gross sales. In the meantime, Yamaha launched an “update” to its venerable YZF-R6 which amounted to new bodywork, electronics, and a collection of comparatively minor enhancements. Compound that with rising prices rivaling costs for liter-class machines and lots of questioned the cause to purchase a 600.

Kawasaki believes it might have discovered the reply, and it’s been hiding in plain sight since 2013: introducing the 2019 Ninja ZX-6R. Kawasaki calls the 2019 ZX-6R a brand new mannequin, and to its credit score the bike does get a couple of selection upgrades: new bodywork, a quickshifter, one tooth smaller entrance sprocket, adjustable clutch lever, and a brand new instrument panel with gasoline gauge and vary show. So, it’d be a lie if we name the 2019 mannequin a carryover, however the similar 636cc four-banger is again, as are the body, chassis, and suspension elements from the ZX-6R’s final replace in 2013.

This isn’t essentially a nasty factor, as the ZX-6R has been a reliable performer for the final 5 years in a class that hasn’t precisely seen a lot cause to redefine itself. With a base worth of $11,699, the 2018 6R was a tough promote, particularly contemplating the competitors have been all priced comparatively evenly. That is the place the 2019 model actually distinguishes itself and poses, maybe, the jolt the supersport class wants. The brand new ZX-6R provides aggressive efficiency and know-how beginning at simply $9,999. KIBS (Kawasaki lingo for ABS) provides one other $1000, whereas the KRT graphic, which mechanically consists of KIBS, goes for $11,299 – $100 lower than the subsequent closest competitor, Suzuki’s GSX-R600. With this new worth in thoughts, it’s value reevaluating what we take into consideration the new ZX-6R.

For 2019 Kawasaki’s “new” Ninja ZX-6R is the similar… however totally different.

Energy for the streets

With its 636cc inline-4, some might say Kawasaki has been on the “cheater” engine bandwagon lengthy earlier than Ducati ever thought it was cool. The distinction between the pink and inexperienced machines is that many racing organizations have allowed the Kawasaki to compete in conventional Supersport classes.

The most important visible distinction between previous and new ZX-6Rs is the new styling, highlighted by extra angular, sharper strains. This was the first undertaking for Miki Nagase as the lead designer, after she joined Kawasaki solely 5 years in the past.

Racing apart, Team Green’s reasoning for the greater engine is to give the road rider – which makes up a far higher proportion of 6R clients than racers – extra flexibility round city and in the canyons. The little additional punch from having 37 extra cubic centimeters than the competitors is welcome when driving on the road, as you possibly can carry a gear a bit of longer when slicing by way of visitors or just driving alongside. Add the change in remaining drive gearing (one much less tooth in the entrance sprocket, keep in mind) to that little bit extra torque, and the middleweight Ninja accelerates with only a tiny bit extra gusto than earlier than.

Talking of road driving, the ZX-6R’s ergos, whereas unchanged from the earlier mannequin, aren’t so dangerous on the roads. Driving sportbikes on the streets for common commuting simply appears foolish for my part, however when you’re going to do it, the Ninja isn’t a nasty place to spend your time. The bars aren’t radically low, and the 32.7-inch seat peak doesn’t appear excessively tall thanks to a comparatively slender junction between the gasoline tank and seat.

This photograph exhibits how the angle of the windscreen flows air instantly to my head. Taller or shorter riders will clearly have totally different experiences.

When it comes to sportbikes, the rider’s measurement and form have an enormous affect on wind safety. In the case of 5-foot, Eight-inch Trizzle on the freeway, the angle of the windscreen directed air straight to my helmet, inflicting extra buffeting than I used to be anticipating. Your mileage might differ relying in your dimensions, however for me, a taller display would possible be excessive on my listing of modifications.

Lengthy-time MO readers will understand how a lot we love having quickshifters on bikes, and its inclusion on the ZX-6R (for upshifts solely) is one thing we’re glad to see. Nevertheless, the unit on the new Ninja isn’t as refined as methods seen on different bikes. In the first three gears, ignition kill time is just too lengthy, inflicting an extended delay than wanted between energy slicing, gear altering, and energy reapplied. This occurred throughout the rev vary and on multiple motorbike, so it’s extremely unlikely this was an remoted incident.

The excellent news is the reality the ZX-6R has a quickshifter now. The dangerous information is the reality it wants somewhat extra positive tuning in the first three gears as there’s noticeable lag.

In its normal settings, the Showa 41mm SFF-BP fork and accompanying rear shock draw a high quality stability between firmness and composure by way of twisty bits and compliance over tough roads. It’s been a number of years since I final rode a ZX-6R on the streets, and our street journey to Mount Charleston, on the outskirts of Las Vegas, hardly gave us a lot probability to put the 6 by way of its paces, so a real evaluation of the Kawi’s road manners may have to wait till one other time. What I can say with relative confidence is the new Bridgestone Hypersport S22 tires complement the bike properly, offering sure-footedness and fast warm-up occasions even at the 8000-foot elevation of Mt. Charleston.

Driving with legends

Whereas Kawasaki may recommend the new Ninja 6 is a sportbike for the road, there’s no denying its roots demand it stretch its legs on the racetrack. That is the place the street course adjoining to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval comes into play. Right here, Kawasaki deliberately had us journos experience the base $9,999 ZX-6R, with out ABS, to absolutely perceive that, no, this isn’t some type of detuned model of the earlier ZX-6R promoting for a less expensive worth.

For the monitor portion of the check, every Ninja was shod with Bridgestone’s superior Battlax R11 DOT race tire. Additionally, fork and shock acquired elevated spring preload and compression damping in contrast to the normal road settings, and rebound was additionally slowed down a smidge. Lastly, rear journey peak was elevated 10mm by way of shims on the shock.

On monitor, the greater engine and revised gearing helped the ZX drive out of corners at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway street course. It felt more healthy in the backside and mid-range than what I keep in mind from the different 600s on the market, however as soon as the tach begins pointing due north, my butt dyno remembers the Yamaha R6 feeling quicker. In fact, with no true back-to-back comparability, it’s exhausting to actually know.

Fueling is properly metered, with good connection between the throttle and rear tire. Regardless of (or due to) the monitor floor being repaved just lately, the pavement was actually onerous on the R11 tires. Fortunately, in the occasion whiskey throttle and worn tire combine, Kawasaki’s Traction Management System (KTRC) is there to (assist) save your bacon. Whereas the system lacks the newest cutting-edge gear like an IMU, the algorithms it operates beneath, whereas monitoring wheel velocity, engine velocity, throttle place, and kit place (amongst others), nonetheless work nicely for the majority of monitor riders on the market. I had TC set to Mode 1 of three (least intervention) due to the good circumstances and didn’t discover it working. Then once more, I’m usually pretty mild with the throttle, and our tires have been swapped for freshies at lunch. So, a real evaluation of the system may have to wait. Mode three is the equal to rain mode, and the system may also be switched off.

With my butt moved way back to potential, elbows are nonetheless in touch with the knees.

From a dealing with perspective, the 6R modifications course with relative ease and feels secure on its aspect, although I appear to recall the Yamaha getting the edge when it comes to final front-end confidence. Showa’s SFF-BP entrance suspension might not get the similar recognition as, say, Öhlins bits, however the far inexpensive Japanese suspenders have been nicely composed and gave nice communication again to the rider. The Showa stuff additionally responded properly to changes; including three extra turns of preload whereas upping compression damping from Kawasaki’s settings made a noticeable enchancment with entrance finish stability underneath exhausting braking.

Talking of stopping energy, the radial-mount Nissin calipers and 310mm petal-type discs sluggish the ZX-6R nicely sufficient, however its rubber strains really feel like a weak level in the system. Fade crept in after steady onerous lapping, however it leveled off and remained constant after the preliminary onset. These binders pale as compared to costlier Italian elements, however once more, for the worth, it’s onerous to complain. The slip-assist clutch does a good job maintaining the rear in line when braking onerous and banging off downshifts, although I’d favor barely extra slip, as the rear would hop a tiny bit as soon as the tempo actually hotted up. Your mileage might range, relying in your tempo, in fact, and such issues are massively subjective to private style, anyway.

Coming again to the matter of ergonomics, this was one space I used to be barely stunned with. On the road, the center Ninja is pretty snug. On the monitor, the cockpit is somewhat cramped when making an attempt to go right into a full tuck. Even when sliding my butt all the method again on the seat, my elbows find yourself hitting knees – and I’m not very tall.

Is that this the reply?

In the grand scheme of issues, the gripes I had with the ZX-6R are very minor and are comparatively straightforward to repair and/or reside with. Finally, two issues stand out about the new Ninja. First is how straightforward it’s to journey quick. Working example is the reality we had two very particular friends out driving with us – Supercross star and Kawasaki ambassador Jeremy McGrath, and superbike legend Miguel Duhamel. Seems McGrath is a fan of sportbikes, too, and as quickly as he donned his leathers, he was immediately quick. Extra shocking is how snug The King was opening the throttle early and sometimes – one thing you possibly can solely do when you’re snug with the bike. As for Duhamel, it’d been some time since he threw on his leathers, however it took him no time to rise up to velocity and depart me for lifeless.

It’s superb how a lot motorbike you will get for ten thousand dollars.

Lastly, let’s not overlook about the unimaginable worth the new Ninja ZX-6R represents. Positive there are higher sportbikes on the market, however for its sub-$10,000 price ticket, Kawasaki has packed an unimaginable punch in a very reasonably priced package deal. Whereas considering what we simply skilled at the finish of our monitor session, one among the Japanese Kawasaki employees approached me to impart some knowledge. His English was damaged, nevertheless it was nonetheless ok to get his level throughout. “Think about it,” he stated. “This is the fastest [new] vehicle you can buy for less than $10,000.”

I’ve been fascinated with his assertion ever since, and I can solely provide you with one conclusion: He’s proper. Right here’s hoping that is the spark the supersport class wants.

2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R + Highs

  • Nonetheless a reliable supersport, with 37cc extra engine than its rivals
  • The brand new aesthetics are higher in individual than in photographs, for my part
  • An unimaginable worth beginning at $9,999
– Sighs

  • Quickshifter wants extra refinement
  • Monitor ergos are cramped, even for my 5-foot, Eight-inch body
  • Rubber brake strains let it down
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Specs Engine Sort Four-stroke, Four-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled Displacement 636cc Bore x Stroke 67.zero x 45.1mm Compression Ratio 12.9:1 Most Torque 52.1 lb-ft @ 11,500 rpm Gasoline System DFI with 38mm Keihin throttle our bodies (Four) and oval sub-throttles Ignition TCBI with digital advance Transmission 6-speed, return shift Remaining Drive Sealed chain Digital Rider Aids Kawasaki Traction Management (KTRC), Energy Mode, Kawasaki Clever anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Fast Shifter (KQS) (upshift solely) Entrance Suspension 41mm inverted Showa SFF-BP fork with top-out springs, stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload; Four.7 inches journey Rear Suspension Backside-link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, stepless compression damping adjustment, 25-way adjustable rebound damping, absolutely adjustable spring preload; 5.9 inches journey Entrance Tire 120/70 ZR17 Rear Tire 180/55 ZR17 Entrance Brakes Twin 310mm petal discs with twin radial-mounted, Nissin Four-piston, monobloc calipers and KIBS ABS Rear Brakes Single 210mm petal discs with single-piston caliper and KIBS ABS Body Sort Tubular, diamond body Rake/Path 24.5°/Four.zero in General Size 79.7 in General Width 28.zero in General Peak 43.three in Floor Clearance 5.1 in Seat Peak 32.7 in Curb Weight 430.zero lb (claimed) Gasoline Capability Four.5 gal Wheelbase 55.1 in Shade Decisions Pearl Storm Grey/Metallic Spark Black, Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black Guarantee 12 Month Restricted Guarantee
Kawasaki Safety Plus (elective) for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months

(motorbike.com, http://bit.ly/2CPKsuv)

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