2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R Review - First Ride

Major improvement for the middleweight Ninja


We’ve now had one day of testing Kawasaki’s thoroughly revised ZX-6R on one of the world’s best racetracks, Japan’s Autopolis Raceway. The verdict: a major improvement! 

We were impressed with the 2007-08 middleweight Ninja, but it was let down by a relatively flat engine that had a hard time running with the best in class. Team Green has addressed that predicament by boosting its powerband from top to bottom. Most impressive is the bump in grunt in the upper midrange.

Equally striking is the newfound agility in the 600cc Ninja. Kawasaki has pulled in the steering rake by a full degree and nipped its trail numbers as well as adding an Ohlins steering damper to quell twitchiness. Just as important to its dexterity is the remarkable loss of 20 lbs from the supersport contender.

Styling is all new, borrowing liberally from the ZX-10R. It shares the squinty eyes of its big brother, but it thankfully foregoes the mirror-mounted turnsignals. Gone is the underseat exhaust, replaced by a system that combines an under-engine section with a right-side outlet.

We have one more day of lapping the fun and flowing Autopolis tomorrow, and then we’ll report back next week with a full review of what so far seems to be a highly competitive middleweight sportbike. Stay tuned!

Related Reading:
Kawasaki Japan Tour
2008 Supersport Shootout
2009 Kawasaki Motorcycles Released
2007 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Full Report

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox