8. Kawasaki ZX-6R, 2013-current

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It’s been such a long time since the other Japanese OEMs upgraded their 600s, MO hasn’t even done a big 600 comparison in years. But I do remember the last 600 I rode and loved: Kawasaki’s new-for-2013 636 version of the ZX-6R. (Troy’s launch report is here.) While they were giving it a tad more displacement, Kawasaki also bolted on a Showa Big Piston Fork, KTRC, ride modes, great brakes, a slipper clutch … Mostly though, I remember remembering how much fun it is to scream a four-cylinder up to 15,000 rpm – something you just don’t do much at all on a BMW S1000RR or any literbike – and I remember thinking I’d rather have a 600 than a 1000 about 98% of the time. All the ZX-6Rs from 2009 are great bikes, but if you seek out a clean 2013 or later for around $7K, you’ll be riding an absolute state-of-the-art sportbike with unparalleled handling, less engine vibration and a smoother, more supple (except maybe for an S1000RR with ESA set to Soft… —Ed.), more comfortable ride than any of the current literbikes – and better ergos – for less than half the price.

The last time we rode a 636 at MO, we didn’t bother to compare it to the other 600s it surely would trounce, but threw it in a comparo against the Suzuki GSX-R750 and Triumph Daytona 675R. Guess what? It won. A fantastic, under-appreciated sportbike that will have you remembering why 600s were the biggest-selling sportbike class in the world for many years.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    The 2010 VFRs are one of the best second-hand offers on the market today. You get tons and tons of awesome bike (sadly, literally too) for a very reasonable price. But god help you if you get to crash one. Those numerous plastic panels with impeccable paintwork from honda cost a fortune!

  • Ted

    “One consolation of living beneath where the rich and powerful do bite and snarl and snap them up, though, is snarfing up delicious morsels as lightly masticated ex-bikes settle gently toward the ocean floor.”
    I was objecting to the bottom feeders lead in, until I read the above quote. If you made that up yourself Mr. Burns you should get an MO literary award, at least a very large bonus. Pure genius. Love it. Thanks

    • john burns

      thanks, Ted, my computer has an “auto-metaphor” function. Or is that a simile? I didn’t invent bottomfeeder when it comes to vehicles, though.

      • Does it make metaphors about autos? Can you get a moto-metaphor function?

        Man, if I had something like that, I’d be as happy as a guy with um, a thing that…made him…really happy.

  • Old MOron

    Sigh, you MOrons are supposed to help me narrow down my list, not expand it.

  • Robs

    As a recent adopter of a well-cared for 2006 R1200GS, I agree with your #3! For $7K, I got a bike with 40K, all records and updates, huge Micatech panniers, crash bars, lighting upgrade, etc. I keep checking Craigs for used parts, and see that 05-10 GS run right around the $6-8K range. Total BMW convert now…will probably own these twins for the rest of what is left of my life =)

    • Emptybee

      I’ve been riding BMWs for 30 years now and have yet to buy a new one. Let someone else take the depreciation hit!

  • Doug

    I guess I’ll throw away my 98 R1………..

  • Born to Ride

    Sorry John, but I’m not gonna give you the XR1200x on this one. I looked, and looked, and looked again for a reasonably priced used XR after seeing them race at Laguna the last time. Not a single one in good shape with low miles for under 9 grand. Dealerships all wanted over 10Gs for prime examples. The absolute cheapest I saw one (a year ago) was for a salvaged “Bill of Sale only” craigslist murder-bait, and it was for the 7 grand you claim to be able to easily obtain one for.

    Otherwise, I agree with pretty much everything else. Also, resent being called a bottom feeder for my bargain seeking tendencies…

  • Archie Dux

    Not disagreeing with any of the choices, even if I might have chosen a few different ones. But none of these are “bottom feeder” bikes, even by the loosest definition.

  • Infadel Macgee

    I’ll still stick to my 97 TL1000S which by the way used to out accelerate my friend’s Triumph 1050 Speed Triple with no trouble , even after he got the arrow exhaust and PC3

  • Craig Hoffman

    Great article! The metric cruisers as a group depreciate like mad. Probably the best pounds for dollar value out there is a Kawasaki Voyager. 900 pounds of lightly masticated used bike for often less than 9 grand. That is only $10 a pound – LOL

    The Honda VFR is a helluva a bike. A friend has one, they sound fantastic with an aftermarket exhaust and respond quite well to the exhaust/Power Commander treatment, with a really nice effortless loads of power everywhere on the tach appeal. The big VFR is a poor man’s Motus. Speaking of Motus, I imagine those will drop in value. Waiting to see on that.

  • major tom

    If those are bottom feeders I guess my tastes are subterranean.Like my 00 Triumph Sprint RS, best steering, torqueiest, most comfortable 50+MPG bike around. And it’s got a centerstand

  • ADB

    “Now, brand new EBR SXs are all over the interwebs asking about $10k.”

  • Cole

    EBR…? Really? What about the Aprilia Tuono RSV4 APRC? It kills the EBR and the Super Duke… all while in rain mode for that matter… put it in track mode? no contest…