Kawasaki's sporty icon was redesigned last year and equipped with advanced electronic aids and a new Separate Function -- Big Piston fork (SFF-BP). It returns for 2014 with updated colours and graphics.
30 years already
Kawasaki is now celebrating 30 years of Ninja sport bikes following the launch of the original GPZ900R Ninja in 1984. Over these three decades, and especially since 2009, the ZX-6R has evolved and matured into a fearsome weapon. The 2013 model year marked the return to a 636cc size, the introduction of friendlier ergonomics, and the addition of KTRC and KIBS
systems derived from the ZX-10R.
Engineers naturally retained the excellent frame and aluminum wheels. When it came to the engine, they didn't just increase piston stroke; they also applied antifriction coating to the cylinders, revised the camshaft profiles, fitted a larger airbox, and optimized the exhaust system.
Ergonomics for every situation
Riders should feel in a relatively familiar territory at the helm of the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS
. Ergonomics are equally suited for the road as they are for the track, while the longer rear shock and slightly lowered headstock put you in a more aggressive stance, ready to slice corners at any time. Too bad the larger airbox means an even wider fuel tank between your thighs...
On the track, the GP-style riding position is perfect for pushing limits, with ideally located handlebars that put your upper body well in front and your elbows close to your knees, yet comfort is pleasantly adequate for a sport bike.
Powerful engine in a rock-solid frame
|They also applied antifriction coating to the cylinders, revised the camshaft profiles, fitted a larger airbox, and optimized the exhaust system.. (Photo: France Ouellet)
The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS proves sharp and neutral right from the get-go. It's much more rider-friendly than Yamaha's wild R6 or MV Agusta's demanding F3. The torque curve is fat, and the inline 4-cylinder effectively puts power to the ground. You can accelerate out of a corner about 1,000 rpm lower than competitors and still make a clean exit. Moreover, the engine is flexible and strong enough to repeatedly shoot for redline, which lies just under 16,000 rpm.
The ZX-6R's chassis is designed to handle plenty of power so you can sprint early and hard. At full throttle, the Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) system operates with precision and transparency, maintaining safe rear-wheel grip while still allowing a bit of fun drifting. The result is optimum acceleration and higher top speeds at the end of straightaways.
Luckily, the brakes on the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS are just as sharp and powerful. Backed by a Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS) and Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology (K-ACT), you rapidly gain confidence so you can brake later from one lap to the next. Once the slick tires are fully warmed, and with smartly calibrated KTRC in the mix, the bike's advanced electronics keep you safe at all times, but they only step in when you make a mistake, so performance and riding excitement are not affected.
A sport bike with a soft side
|You can accelerate out of a corner about 1,000 rpm lower than competitors and still make a clean exit. (Photo: France Ouellet)
The suspension, however, is a bit too soft for the track, at least for experts (beginners and intermediate riders will be happy); as far as I'm concerned it's best geared for sporty riding on slick country roads. The front fork isn't the only culprit as the rear shock collapses under hard acceleration.
On the plus side, such flexibility makes for a sport bike that isn't twitchy or physically challenging. The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS obeys your every move and is smoother than most rivals. While a steering damper is shockingly absent (the 2009-2012 model came with a factory-installed Öhlins damper), high-speed stability is fantastic.
|The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS obeys your every move and is smoother than most rivals. (Photo: France Ouellet)
Kawasaki has a great weapon in the 2014 Ninja ZX-6R: friendly and fairly comfortable on weekdays, and formidable enough to send you from your favourite playground (the track) all the way to nirvana on weekends.
- Great looks
- Sharp, rider-friendly engine and chassis
- Decent comfort for everyday riding
- The industry's best rider-assist system now standard on a 600cc model
- Wide and cumbersome fuel tank
- Suspension is too soft for aggressive track riding