Ringleader: Ari Henning
MSRP (2009): $9799
Average Fuel Mileage: 34 mpg
Accessories & Modifications: Tech Spec Gripster pads
Standards and naked bikes have been my preference for a couple of years now. I'm drawn to their simple aesthetics, comfortable ergonomics and typically linear power delivery. But that sounds like an, ahem, older gentleman talking, and I'm supposed to be the young gun on staff, so I figure it's time to start acting the part. What could be more rambunctious and in-your-face than a bright-green Kawasaki Ninja?
Bolstering my image isn't the only reason I requested the new ZX-6R. I was very impressed with the bike's performance when I rode it at Autopolis in Japan late last year, and figure it will be a great tool for developing my riding skills. I intend to take it to as many riding schools and track days as my schedule allows, and maybe even enter it in a few club races.
So far I haven't had time to do much more than ride it to work, and despite its purposeful riding position, the Ninja isn't such a bad commuter. Wrist pain was problematic, but a set of Tech Spec's Gripster pads ($49.95 from www.techspec-usa.com) provided the traction I needed to take some weight off my hands. The redesigned-for-'09 engine is a gem. It doesn't suffer from the low-end anemia that plagues most 600s, and pulls right from idle with plenty of pep to step ahead of traffic.
Peel-and-stick grip pads from Tech Spec give your knees something to hold onto.
The Ninja's ultra-lean physique is especially helpful when splitting lanes (legal in California), but the mirrors are wide, forward-set and don't fold easily. I'd like to find something similar to the super-functional pivoting units on the Honda CBR1000RR, but so far my catalog and Internet searches have yielded nothing.
The stock Ninja looks pretty edgy, but could use a little help. For the sake of appearance and its anticipated track use, that Mega Man exhaust will have to go, and something needs to be done about that dangling tail of a rear fender. Now, if I can just don something other than my faded Aerostich suit, maybe people will believe there's a 24-year-old riding this thing...