2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 vs. 2012 Triumph Daytona 675R - Video

Kawasaki is back in the oddball middleweight sportbike wars

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2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636

As the new kid on the block, the 636 understandably garners a lot of attention. In our first ride review I was impressed with its power and handling, but couldn’t wait to stack it up against the other contenders in the class and get the opinions of Chief Editor Kevin Duke and fellow editor Tom Roderick.

2013 Oddball Sportbike Shootout Kawasaki ZX-6R Action Left

Duke was a fan of the Kawi’s ergos, calling it “sporty but accommodating,” noting the ample room available “to move around and hang off.” Then again, as stated earlier, the 636 strikes a nice balance between the Suzuki and Triumph. The Trumpet’s bars are lower, but the Kawasaki’s pegs are higher than the Gixxer 750’s set in their low position.

None of us were uncomfortable at the track with this setting, focusing more on the new 636cc engine. Despite being the smallest engine of the bunch, Duke called the ZX “the fastest ‘600’ ever,” and was “shocked when the little Ninja walked away from the torquey Daytona in a freeway roll-on contest. Tom raved about the great power delivery from the well-metered fuel injection, despite featuring only one fuel injector.

Willow Springs is a track that favors horsepower, and it’s here where the Suzuki unsurprisingly walked away from the others. But look at the dyno chart again. It’s only at the peak of the graph where the 636 outguns the Triumph. This disadvantage is noticeable on track as it takes a long straight to reel in the Daytona.

2013 Oddball Sportbike Shootout Kawasaki ZX-6R Action Cornering

Half a point was the difference between the Kawi and the Triumph in the engine category when objectively scoring them on our trusty MO ScoreCard, with the British bike narrowly edging Japan. But that doesn’t mean the Kawi’s street presence is lacking. “When it comes time to pass slower-moving freeway traffic the 636’s willingness to accelerate is apparent in that it doesn’t require a downshift to quickly overtake another vehicle,” Tom says.

2013 Oddball Sportbike Shootout Action Front Right

Being the only one of the trio equipped with traction control, the 636 handily wins the technology category of this test. Perhaps the biggest compliment we can give is that we hardly noticed its intrusion.

Where the Kawi really won points was in the handling department. All three testers were impressed by the handling prowess of the new machine. So much so it took top honors in the category on our ScoreCard by a good margin. Duke felt the Kawi’s chassis was “super-cooperative,” reducing the learning curve required to ride the bike quickly, both on the street and track.

Adding Showa’s SFF-BP (Separate Function Fork - Big Piston) makes adjustment super easy, and all of us felt completely comfortable pushing the front end to the limits of our talent. “The Daytona and Gixxer are good handling machines,” Tom notes, “but neither one can match the user-friendly nature of the Kawasaki’s chassis: It simply does what you ask of it in the most pleasing way possible.”

2013 Oddball Sportbike Shootout Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

Those are big words for the new Kawi, but the Suzuki and Triumph are formidable challengers.

Next Page...2012 Suzuki GSX-R750

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