Kawasaki ZX-6R


Make Model

Kawasaki ZX-6R 




Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder


636 cc / 38.8 cub in
Bore x Stroke 68 x 43.8 mm
Compression Ratio 12.8:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Exhaust System 4-2-1


Digital fuel injection with four 38mm throttle bodies

Lubrication Wet sump



Starting Electric
Spark Plug NGK, CR 9 E
Motor Oil Synthetic, 10W/40

Max Power

86 kW / 118 hp @ 12500 rpm

Max Torque

68.8Nm / 7.02 kgf-m / 50.7 lb-ft @ 12000 rpm

Clutch Wet, multiple discs, cable operated


6 Speed 
Final Drive Chain
Frame Aluminium, twin spar

Front Suspension

46 mm cartridge fork with 12-way rebound, 12-way compression damping and spring preload adjustability

Front Wheel Travel 119 mm / 4.7 in

Rear Suspension

Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, 18-way rebound, 20-way compression damping and spring preload adjustability

Rear Wheel Travel 132 mm / 5.2 in

Front Brakes

2 x 300mm discs, 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 220mm disc, 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/65 ZR17

Rear Tyre

180/55 ZR17

Rake 24.5°
Trail 95 mm / 3.7 in

Length 2065 mm / 81.3 in

Width     715 mm  / 28.1 in

Height  1110 mm / 43.7 in

Wheelbase 1400 mm / 54.7 in.
Ground Clearance 145 mm / 5.7 in
Seat Height 820 mm / 32.3 in

Dry Weight

174 kg / 377 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

18 Litres / 4.8 gal

Reserve 3 Litres / 0.8 US gal

Consumption  average

5.3 L/100 km / 18.9 km/l / 40 US mpg

Standing ¼ Mile  

11.0 sec / 203.0 km/h / 127 mph
Standing  0 - 1000 m 20.1 sec / 249.9 km/h / 155 mph

Top Speed

262 km/h  / 163 mph

Every sportbike rider wants a clear “advantage” — a technological edge the competition can’t touch. Well, the all-new Ninja® ZX-6R has it. More displacement equals more muscle, so we gave the ZX-6R’s compact new DOHC In-Line Four a displacement bump to 636cc. Next, we added wild 12.8:1 lightweight pistons, electronic fuel injection, a stratospheric redline for peak power, and a close-ratio gearbox to maximize performance. And the ZX-6R reflects Kawasaki’s passion for turning low mass into precise handling. We started with a new pressed-aluminum perimeter frame and extruded aluminum swingarm, then added a class-leading inverted 41mm front fork and Bottom-Link UNI-TRAK® rear suspension with piggy-back shock. Super-wide 17-inch rims, Z-rated radial rubber, and Moto-GP inspired bodywork complete this rather tantalizing picture. So let ’em cry foul. You and your advantage will be long gone by then.

"All-out sportbike performance and aggressive styling" is the best way to sum up the all-new 2003 Kawasaki NINJA® ZX-6R sportbike. Based on the limited edition NINJA® ZX-6RR, the radical new ZX-6R boasts a redesigned engine and crankcase with 37 extra cubic centimeters of displacement, an electronic fuel injection system and an all-new chassis. These new features, plus a host of additional design changes, are sure to leave the competition hung out to dry.


• All-new engine displaces 636cc due to a 2mm larger bore. Composite chrome-plated cylinders with 5mm shorter skirts reduce weight. The result is more mid-range punch than the competition.

• New cooling passages, new front cylinder head frame mount and oil routing moved to inside the engine help improve efficiency and reduce weight.

• New camshaft profiles with smaller slotted sprockets, 10mm shorter valve stems and single intake valve springs help reduce engine height and weight, and improve power.

• Bottom-Link UNI-TRAK® rear suspension features remote piggy-back style reservoir, stepless compression and rebound damping adjustment, threaded rear ride height adjustment and a special top-out spring for more precise control under heavy braking.

• Lighter, more compact radiator with new ring-style cooling fan.

• All-new Ram Air intake system routes the incoming air through a central intake. Design of the front cowling directs air into the intake for improved efficiency.

• Transmission features closer ratios for third through sixth gears. Revised shift drum cam profile for improved shifting.

• Digital instrumentation in the cockpit includes a compact central instrument for the following functions: radial tachometer, speedometer, temperature, odometer, tripmeter, clock and stopwatch. Shift indicator lamp adjustable for engine rpm and brightness.

• All-new aluminum perimeter frame is lighter, more compact. Rake is 25 degrees. Moving the swingarm pivot forward helps shift weight bias onto the front wheel.

• New front 41mm inverted Kayaba cartridge fork features stepless adjustment for compression and rebound damping. New top-out springs offer improved fork action under hard acceleration.

• Bottom-Link UNI-TRAK® rear suspension features remote piggy-back style reservoir, stepless compression and rebound damping adjustment, threaded rear ride height adjustment and a special top-out spring for more precise control under heavy braking.

• New tail section with lightweight LED taillights and aerodynamic inner rear fender.
Rear disc brake measures 220mm and improved master cylinder ratios improve both feel and performance.

• First for a production bike, radially mounted 4-piston front disc brakes position the lighter yet larger calliper further away from the axle for improved braking efficiency.

• Individual brake pads for each piston distribute heat more evenly and offer more bite under hard braking.

• All-new Moto-GP styling and aerodynamic fairing are products of the research in building the new GP four-stroke race machine.


There is no substitute for displacement . . . at least, when it comes to engine performance. The 37cc displacement advantage (6.2%) Kawasaki wields over its “competitors” in the “600 class” is put to very good use in the 2003 6R.

On paper, you would expect the thoroughly modern engine design offered by Kawasaki (including fuel injection and an extremely high, stock compression ratio of 12.8 to 1) in such a light package (a claimed 355 pounds dry — and it feels this light!) to be a ripper. It is.

After one session through a particularly tight, twisty road that Willy and I are familiar with, Willy commented that the 6R (exiting a corner at 10,000 rpm in second gear) smoothly power-wheelied from corner exit to the next corner entry, where it dropped its nose and smoothly turned into the next corner without even a hint of head shake. Sweet!

Indeed, although the Kawasaki ZX-6R does many things very well, it is the engine performance that stands out after our first ride. The dual butterfly fuel injection design (with one butterfly mimicking the effects of a CV carb) works flawlessly. Throttle transitions (completely closed throttle to open throttle, even while leaned over) are without any surging, whatsoever. It is the amount and spread of power that just about knocks you out, however, not its smooth delivery.

Some of the journalists in attendance at the Malaysian race track intro last month commented that the 6R lacks mid-range. We suspected this was not, in fact, the case, instead being a misperception brought on by the huge top-end rush the 6R provides. We were right . . . the 6R has pretty darn good mid-range.

To test mid-range roll-on, we brought along a very healthy 2002 Honda CBR600F4i. This F4i is the beneficiary of a Yoshimura slip-on system, as well as the sophisticated EMS on-board computer system (not to mention several hours of dyno time at the Yosh headquarters) we wrote about. We are pretty confident that this particular F4i would walk away from virtually any stock 600 in the mid-range. If you drop the revs low enough, it will also walk away from the 2003 ZX-6R, but at about 7,000 rpm (which is rightly labeled “mid-range” on a bike that redlines at 15,500 rpm, as the ZX-6R does) the 6R easily pulls away from the F4i. On top, the 6R engine performance is simply phenomenal.

The 6R pulls hard from 8,000 rpm, very hard from 9,500 rpm, and extremely hard from 11,000 rpm all the way to 15,000 rpm. Despite feeling like it has a fair amount of weight over the front wheel (and the inherent stability discussed earlier), the 6R will power wheelie in first gear if you wack the throttle at 11,000 rpm — even if you have your weight right over the tank and bars. Most 600s require a tug on the bars, and a weight shift to boot. The 6R will wheelie whether you want it to or not, so be ready!

The front wheel will also catch some air in second gear in this same rpm range (11,000 – 15,000 rpm) without touching the clutch. Knowing that our Yoshified F4i is nudging 100 horsepower at the wheel (now that it is broken in), we would estimate the new 6R has a firm grasp on at least 105 wheel horsepower stock. Not a bad peak horsepower output for the displacement, and pretty remarkable, really, given the 7,000 rpm spread of thrust between 8,000 and 15,000 rpm.

Okay, so this is probably enough talk about the engine performance of the 2003 ZX-6R, but there is one other item worth mentioning. Kawasaki has significantly increased tuning potential of the 6R by providing slotted cam sprockets on the stock machine (yes, that means adjustable cam timing). This is unique on a stock supersport machine (in addition to the other unique features discussed in our preview article dated September 16, 2002).

The chassis of the ZX-6R is impressive, as well. The bike has a very solid, stable feel to it. At the same time, steering feels light (due, at least in part, to the small, 280mm brake discs, which reduce gyroscopic effect on the front end). The bike is never twitchy, changing directions confidently, but with poise.

Although we experienced good feedback from the chassis and the tires, this will undoubtedly be improved further by suspension adjustment. Our limited time on the bike didn’t allow detailed tuning adjustments. The fully-adjustable fork and shock (including rear ride-height adjustment) on our own unit came with settings presumably from the intro at Sepang, and worked quite well out-of-the-box.

Although we might have expected a harsh feeling from the upside-down fork, it was really quite plush. Kawasaki seems to have mated this rigid fork design with chassis rigidity quite well.

Engine vibration is quite low and vibration through the pegs is virtually non-existent. You know the engine is working underneath you, but those sensations (as well as feedback from the road) never disturb your comfort. The ergonomics of the new 6R are clearly more aggressive than last year’s bike. This is by design, of course, and reflects an increasingly more aggressive “race-replica” approach to the middleweight sportbike class by other manufacturers. The riding triangle (seat/bar/peg relationship) works reasonably well, however, and really compliments the aggressive performance potential the bike offers. More weight over the front end, with the rider position closer to the steering head, increases confidence during aggressive cornering. The trade-off is reduced comfort, and increased weight on the wrists at sub-60 mph speeds, while cruising in a straight line.

Wind protection from the fairing was surprisingly good, despite its small frontal area. There is something about the shape of the 6R’s front end that throws the wind fairly high onto the rider’s chest and shoulders, but keeps buffeting at helmet level to a minimum.

Those radial brakes everyone is talking about are quite good. Initial bite was noticeably stronger than our companion 600, although overall power appeared to fall somewhat short of our exalted expectations. This could relate to the fact that our test unit was flown in from the Malaysian race track intro — where the front brake pads could have received a glazing. A ride on a new, production unit at a later date should clear this up.

The new instrument panel (pictured in our preview article) works well, with one exception. Riding in bright sunlight, it is somewhat difficult to read the tachometer, which is an LED bar graph that sweeps around the outside of the instrument cluster. The black bar simply doesn’t contrast enough with the grey background.

So, our first impression of the 2003 Kawasaki ZX-6R is certainly a favorable one. The new engine, in particular, is stellar. Despite the extra engine displacement, and the performance that comes with it, Kawasaki has priced the ZX-6R at $7,999, just $100 more than last year’s 599cc model.

Source Motorcycle Daily