Yes! Kawasaki have finally fulfilled our teenage dreams of being able to buy a Japanese-built, 600-cc supersport-class motorcycle with the launch of the 2019 ZX-6R. We recently spent a couple of days with this machine, and here’s what we think.
Story: Anosh Khumbatta
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
Design and Build
This flashy green and black Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) colour scheme is the only guise in which this bike is available in India. The design features sharp lines and flamboyant graphics, befitting the Ninja’s sporty nature, and the front fascia is dominated by those sharp-edged, slant-eyed LED headlights and the ram air intake just above them. A large, stylised ‘ZX’ runs across the bodywork on the left side of the motorcycle, while the ‘6R’ emblazoned across the right side completes the model designation. The rider’s seat has quite some room front to back, allowing differently-sized riders to find their sweet spot, and is at a reasonable 830 mm high.
A plastic seat cowl sits in place of the pillion seat, and Kawasaki India do not provide passenger accommodation or foot pegs with this machine, although these can be bought at extra cost. The slim tail section juts sharply upwards and terminates in an attractive LED tail lamp, while lower down on the right side sits a chrome exhaust canister. Modern exhaust systems have gotten progressively bulkier and uglier, but Kawasaki have managed to keep this unit quite compact, and the use of chrome takes me back to days gone by when shiny exhausts were the norm.
Chassis and Suspension
In true Japanese supersport fashion, the ZX-6R is built around a pressed aluminium twin spar perimeter frame, which in turn is suspended on Showa hardware at both ends. The 41-mm inverted Separate Function Fork confines preload adjustability to the left leg, while rebound and compression damping adjustments can be made on the right leg. At the rear, a linkage-mounted gas-charged monoshock with piggyback reservoir also features full adjustability, allowing you to dial in chassis response based on your riding style and road condition.
Out of the box, the suspension seems set up for comfortable street use, smoothly soaking up road undulations; however, upping my pace in the twisties had the rear squatting under hard acceleration, while the soft front end dove sharply on the brakes, and gave me a very disconnected and vague feel when tipping in to corners. A few turns of the rebound and compression adjustment screws at both ends sufficiently stiffened up the ride, unleashing the sharper chassis response I was looking for — and there is still a lot of room for fine tuning if you really want to set this bike up to be ridden hard at the track. This range of adjustability allows the ZX-6R to go from pliant road bike to taut track bike, making it usable in a variety of conditions.