2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Review | Shrugging Convention

Is Kawi’s New “Cheater” the Ultimate Middleweight Streetbike?

By Ari Henning, Photography by Kevin Wing

Marc Cook
Editor In Chief
Age: 49
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 195 Lbs.
Inseam: 32 In.
I really thought I’d outgrown the 600 class thanks to the evergreen Suzuki GSX-R750. I’ve always loved that model, and owned one for quite awhile, so just call me biased. But I’ve long felt it bridged the gap between brutish literbikes and high-revving, torque-challenged 600s most effectively—the 750 combines the lightness of the traditional middleweight without the need to nanny the powerband every second. For me, that made the 750 a perfect real-world sportbike.

So much for that. The 636 feels every bit as strong in the midrange as the current GSX-R—in part because the Suzuki is geared quite tall—and is just as easy to use as a result. With modern electronics and the latest suspension, the 636 is the real sporting deal, beating the current GSX-R with pure competence. That you don’t have to ride it like you’re mad at it is all the difference in the world.

Aaron Frank
Editor At Large
Age: 38
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 155 Lbs.
Inseam: 32 In.
There are plenty of arbitrary reasons to build bikes to a specific displacement limit, like racing regulations or insurance cost tables. But there’s no categorical rule that says 599cc is the optimum displacement for a middleweight sportbike. The Ninja ZX-6R shows how much benefit a bit of added displacement brings in terms of improved performance. And with the addition of traction control, power modes and optional ABS, the Kawasaki is an undeniably modern motorcycle. It’s got a compact-yet-comfortable layout, ultra-neutral handling and impressive features that make it the complete sportbike package for 2013. Like Cook, I’m a former GSX-R750 owner but my decade-long love affair with that bike might be over.

Zack Courts
Associate Editor
Age: 29
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 185 Lbs.
Inseam: 34 In.
Make no mistake, this new ZX-6R is more than 37 additional cubic centimeters. If you think Ari is sipping the Kawasaki Kool-Aid and fawning too much over this new 636, think again. It really is an awesome package. Yes, the extra displacement helps, but it’s the way it delivers power that is so impressive. The motor is endlessly willing, making power everywhere without a hint of a rattle in the fairing or a buzz in the pegs. It’s docile around town, but exceptionally potent by the time the revs hit five digits. As if that weren’t enough, the rest of the bike is an equal match. The brakes are superb, the ergos are comfy, and the electronics package is both tidy and useful.

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