Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja


Make Model

Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja




Four stroke, transverse four cylinders, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder


599 cc / 36.5 cub in

Bore x Stroke

66 x 43.8 mm

Compression Ratio


Cooling System

Liquid cooled


36mm Carburetors with Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC)





Max Power

81 kW / 111 hp  @ 12500 rpm

Max Torque

66 Nm / 48.7 lb-ft @ 10000 rpm


6 Speed

Final Drive


Frame Perimeter, pressed aluminum

Front Suspension

43 mm cartridge fork with adjustable preload

Front Wheel Travel

129.5 mm / 5.1 in

Rear Suspension

Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, adjustable preload, 20-way compression damping and rebound damping

Rear Wheel Travel

129.5 mm / 5.1 in

Front Brakes

2 x 310 semi-floating discs with dual six-piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 250 mm disc, single-piston caliper

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre


Rake` 23.5°


1399 mm / 55.1 in

Seat Height 820 mm  / 32.3 in

Dry Weight

171 kg / 377 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

18.2 Litres / 4.8 US gal


Kawasaki's entry to the 600cc supersports class first appeared in 1995, relegating the elderly ZZ-R600 to a sport-touring role. The first Fl model set a reputation for strong engine performance, fine handling and usable road manners which following models have maintained.

There is nothing remarkable about the ZX-6R's design, although its high-spec aluminium frame was ahead of its competitors when launched - Yamaha's FZR600 and Honda's CBR600 both had steel frames in 1995.

A liquid-cooled 16-valve inline-four engine is unremarkable, but the Kawasaki engine was very strong, a ram-air system helping it produce an impressive 75kW (100bhp).

By 2001, the ZX-6R had been comprehensively updated, and was more than competitive in this intensely fought class. The basic design was the same, but numerous refinements had turned the ZX-6R into an accomplished, user-friendly sportsbike. The carburettor-equipped engine is still among the most powerful available, and cunning combustion chamber design has given it a strong, torquey bottom end.

The front and rear suspension units are of unassuming appearance, but are fully adjustable and perform well on road and track. Six-piston calipers are again unique in the class, but the ZX-6R's Tokico brakes are outclassed by the competition, particularly the Sumitomo calipers on Yamaha's R6.

The ZX-6R's dry weight of 171kg (3771b) isn't the best in its class, but makes little difference to its performance except on track. However, a ZX-6R ridden by Australian Andrew Pitt won the 2001 World Supersport title, suggesting its track potential is more than sufficient.

On the road, the strong engine makes easy work of any traffic or road conditions, and the broad fairing gives impressive weather- and windblast protection.

Four-Cylinder, 16-Valve Engine

Aluminum cylinders are electroplated for quick heat transfer which allows closer tolerances for more power.

Compact combustion chamber for increased compression ratio without detonation on today’s gasolines 16-valve design boosts low-end torque and provides maximum valve area for optimum flow

Gear-Driven Engine Balancer

Smoothes engine vibration for comfort on the road

Liquid Cooling

Even-running temperatures mean no “power fade” on hot days and longer engine life
Automatic fan keeps things cool even in traffic

36mm Carburetors with Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC)

A throttle-position sensor tells the ignition-control unit how hard the engine is working so that its micro-computer can determine the best ignition timing for more power and better fuel economy

Straight-Shot Intake Ports

Ultra-short for free-flowing, less turbulent intake

More horsepower and instant throttle response

Digital Ignition

Microprocessor controlled timing, never needs adjustment

Large-Capacity Fuel Tank

5.3-gallon capacity for extended rides without refueling

Bridged Aluminum Swingarm

Rectangular design is large and stiff
Eccentric chain adjusters

43mm Cartridge-Type Front Fork

Exceptional rigidity for precise cornering
Features threaded preload adjuster and 12-way compression and rebound damping so the suspension can be tuned to your riding style and road conditions

Large Rear Wheel

Rear wheel width allows use of wide rear tire (180/55ZR17)

310mm Dual-Disc Front Brakes

Feature opposed, six-piston calipers for well-modulated, confidence-inspiring stopping power

250mm Disc Rear Brake

With opposed-piston caliper, produces quick, sure stops
Adjustable Clutch and Front Brake Levers
Enhanced rider comfort2002 KAWASAKI NINJA® SPORTBIKES

For more than a decade, the term “Ninja” has been synonymous with Kawasaki sportbikes. In fact, the association is so widespread that even non-motorcyclists are familiar with the Kawasaki NINJA® motorcycle line-up. Such familiarity should come as no surprise to anyone, considering Kawasaki’s formidable history with sportbikes.

New for 2002 is the ultimate open-class sportbike, the new ZX-12R which features more than 130 updates, enhancements and improvements to the engine, chassis, suspension and more. With a more planted feel, lighter steering and more low- to mid-range power, the new ZX-12R is the bike of choice for serious enthusiasts. Also, new for 2002 is the NINJA ZX-9R which bristles with a host of performance and styling changes sure to blast it to the pinnacle of the liter class.

For the sporting adventurer, the new-for-2002 Kawasaki NINJA® ZZ-R1200 sport-touring motorcycle is the ideal vehicle. Designed specifically for motorcyclists interested in a performance-oriented ride, but who also seek the comfort and style of a bona fide grand-touring bike, the ZZ-R1200 can’t help but please.

And for all those sportbike riders who seek a more adventurous and winding route, Kawasaki features the ALL-NEW ZZ-R1200. A sportbike with a touring heart. Check out the features and styling of this new model.

On the professional racing level, Kawasaki has won an impressive nine AMA Superbike Road Racing Championships–more than any other manufacturer. Currently, modified NINJA motorcycles are raced by the Kawasaki Road Race team in its quest for championships. This includes the much lauded ZX-7R, upon which Kawasaki Road Racing’s Eric Bostrom and Doug Chandler battled for AMA Superbike victory in the 2001 season. Likewise, the ZX-6R provided the base for Bostrom’s 600 SuperSport mount in ’01 where he won multiple races.

Furthermore, Kawasaki has dominated the AMA/Prostar Motorcycle Drag Racing Series over the last several years. Team rider Rickey Gadson won three consecutive AMA/Prostar 750 Superbike National Championships, and teammate Chip Ellis was named Rookie of the Year in 2000.

In addition to these particular racer replicas, Kawasaki also offers other sporting options. These include the sporty-yet-affordable ZX-6 and some of the best entry-level bikes available in the form of the popular NINJA 500R and 250R models. Whether the goal is track time, canyon carving or NINJA performance at an economical price, all of these Kawasaki motorcycles deliver experience you crave.


Kawasaki's ZX-6R Ninja has always been one of the most popular bikes in this 600cc middleweight class and has always been rated a great all-rounder. With the introduction of the 2001 model not too much has changed in that regard.

The SuperSport Ninja handles quite well but the bike does get better with a little fettling to your tastes. My first move would be to raise the rear ride height a little which the Kawasaki easily accommodates as it comes with adjustable ride height. The next spanner would add a little more compression damping at the rear. I do prefer the Ninja's confident handling over Yamaha's R6 but feel that it does fall a bit behind Suzuki's GSX-R 600 and Honda's new perfectly balanced (but needing a little more clearance) CBR 600 F4i. Some of you will be surprised at my rating the Ninja ahead of the R6 in the handling department but I honestly feel that 95% of riders would be a lot more comfortable with the balance of the Ninja over the Yamaha. Racers of course completely modify suspension so race results should not be the measuring stick to rate these road bikes.

However you do feel the extra few kilograms that the Kawasaki carries over the opposition, wet weights with full tanks are as follows. I think the more upright riding position that the ZX-6R possesses maybe amplifies this difference more than it would if the seating position was more aggressive.

Kawasaki ZX-6R 198 kilograms
Suzuki GSX-R 600 192 kilograms
Honda CBR 600 F4i 193 kilograms
Yamaha R6 195 kilograms

The 600cc engine could be a little more refined and the unit we tested did need a little sorting in the carburation department. Performance is good though and the bike can crack 11-second quarter miles with ease. The ZX-6R still uses carbs and a reserve switch rather than the warning light and automatic reserve that most new bikes are equipped with. A drawback of the carb' system is that the Kawasaki is a bit hard to get up to operating temperature on those cold mornings. However I must say that as the ZX-6R got more miles under its belt this did improve somewhat. Kawasaki recommends the use of premium unleaded only.

Braking is one of the Kawasaki's strong suits with excellent power from 6-piston calipers and 300mm discs. A little fade could be felt on repeated hard stops but switching to a different compound pad would probably fix that.

Changing gears through the 6-speed box is a pleasant enough experience and the transmission is mated to a progressive clutch that has plenty of feel through the lever to help with those fast getaways. The bike does have a slight tendency to drop out of gear which means you do have to be deliberate with your shifts.

A superior tank range, I saw 350 kilometres between fill-ups at one stage, and the ease with which the Kawasaki can be loaded up with gear via the excellent under seat luggage hooks put it ahead of the competition in the touring arena.

Ergonomics are also very user friendly with a comfortable and well padded seat and reasonable reach to the bars. A little more legroom would not go astray on long trips but it is no worse in this regard than the competition. I covered well over 2,000 kilometres on the ZX-6R during our short time together and never found myself feeling too uncomfortable.

Pillion accommodation is the best in the class with excellent grab handles and reasonable legroom for your passenger.

It is a bit unusual these days to be on a bike that uses a conventional needle/dial style speedo' rather than a digital LCD display. Which style you prefer is a personal decision but the LCD displays do give you a more accurate reading than a graduated dial, which helps to stick to those suburban speed limits.

Fuel Injection, a more modern dash layout and the loss of a few kilos would be all it would take to put the kWaka' very near the front of this class and in my book it does need those updates. However the ZX-6R costs a little less than the opposition and the comfort may win your heart over it's rivals.