The benchmark for well-designed middleweight performance, the Kawasaki ZZR600 maintains this status by offering class-leading comfort and cutting edge style. With an excellent overall balance and dazzling performance, this modern sportbike has earned a healthy respect from the motorcycling public.
While other manufacturers improve their superbikes and aim at the highest levels of performance, Kawasaki does not only that, but retains the essential and keeps developing and improving a sporty motorcycle which proved to be efficient in day by day use to many riders worldwide.
Introducing the 2008 Kawasaki ZZR600, the machine that will get you to and back from work in rush hour and still manages to provide you with your needed dose of adrenaline on those weekend trips.
As I was saying in my introduction, the Kawasaki ZZR600 is a sport motorcycle featuring a less aggressive character than its supersport cousin, the ZX-6R. Kawasaki has always used the “ZZR” prefix to individualize the models in the series as being more representative to the Sport-Touring category, than pure sportbikes, although when the ZZR range was initially launched, ZZRs were indeed sportbikes.
Having clarified the bike’s designation, I would like to say that the ZZR600 motorcycle was as a nearly intact re-use of previous generation 600cc sportbikes with slightly ergonomic modifications and different graphics.
The first generation ZZR600, marketed from model years 2003-2005, draws its roots back to a previous generation of sportbikes called the Ninja 600 which retains the Kawasaki designation ZX600E from the original motorcycle indicating that, apart from color differences, it is mechanically identical with the early motorcycle.
What clearly sets the ZZR600 apart from your middleweight supersport bike is its remarkable 30.7 in (780 mm) seat height, making 2003-2005 ZZR600 one of the lowest of all-mass manufactured sport bikes. This means that the bike addresses to a wide range of riders.
In 2005, Kawasaki introduced a new ZZR600 which was a reissue of the ZX600J (ZX-6R of the 2000-2002) model and remains unchanged except for a new, less invasive fairing stay. Kawasaki did what it new best, and that meant retaining the 599cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline four cylinder engine. The styling of the bike remains fashionable while its larger fairings, higher clip-ons and well padded seat make it a very comfortable sportbike by today’s standards.
Having completed all the requirements necessary for it to continue its success, the ZZR600 remains virtually unchanged and still manages to retain its racy attitude but only when needed.
Yamaha also presents an incredible do-it-all sporbike implementing lightweight, big horsepower, razor-sharp handling, and a surprisingly comfortable cockpit. This incredible performance is known to be found under the name of Yamaha R6S, the Japanese manufacturer’s outstanding alternative to the much cheaper ZZR600? Why would anyone offer a $1000 more expensive alternative, again? We would have to admit that the Yamaha offers a greater level of performance, although it is not that user-friendly compared to the ZZR. The choice is yours.
If you didn’t managed to decide on one of the two bikes I previously talked about, you should probably say welcome to a bike that combines middleweight agility with V-Twin handling, and tops it all off with aggressive and sporty styling: The 2008 Suzuki SV650SF. It was the cheapest machine we could find and it is suitable for the battle against the Kawasaki and Yamaha.
Kawasaki middleweight ZZR’s have always looked good so the 2008 model year doesn’t have to make an exception. The ZX-6R features are all over the place and give it a unique design which combines sporty-looks with comfort and smoothness.
The simple, sleek lines of the ZZR600’s aerodynamic bodywork strike an elegant-but-athletic balance with the combination of its aluminum frame, angled front fairing, performance-enhancing air scoop and three-spoke wheels. Superbly matching this function to form, the ZZR600 makes long-distance rides a pleasure with a stepped flat seat, bars that are easy to reach and wide mirrors that provide an exceptional view.
Colors available for 2008 (Ebony or Candy Plasma Blue) are destined to make this road machine stand out even more.
A 599cc, liquid-cooled, inline, four-cylinder engine with dual throttle overhead cams and four valves per cylinder is the core of the ZZR600 its lively performance. Further enhancing the engine is Kawasaki’s Twin Ram Air Induction system, which takes in cool air via its leading-edge air scoop on the fairing front and forces it to the ZZR600’s airbox and then into its four 36mm carburetors. The carburetors also feature the Kawasaki Throttle Response Ignition Control (K-TRIC), which monitors the throttle position and adjusts the ignition timing for the engine’s four spark-plug mounted ignition coils, maximizing the power at every rpm.
The high-tech engine is mated to a close-ratio six-speed transmission, providing the ZZR600 rider with the best gear for any riding situation, from freeway droning to handling some back road twisties.
That excellent handling comes from the ZZR600’s chassis, a lightweight aluminum perimeter frame combined with a fully adjustable 46mm cartridge-type front fork and fully adjustable UNI-TRAK rear suspension.
Stopping power is provided by six-piston calipers gripping dual 300mm semi-floating front disc brakes and 220mm rear disc brake.
The ZZR600 is shod with high-performance radial tires mounted on 17-inch aluminum wheels. The 120/65ZR17 front and 180/55ZR17 rear provides maximum traction and help smooth the ride over bumpy surface streets and freeway expansion joints.
The entire electronic ZZR600 instrument cluster includes a speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, odometer, trip meter and a digital clock.
My latest riding experience took place on a brand new Kawasaki ZZR600, a bike that surprised me in the best way possible as it proved to be dealing proudly with any of the current middleweight superbike motorcycles out there. In fact, some riders will prefer it over anything else that the market has to offer.
I had the opportunity to ride the bike for a few days so I used it for everything from weekend journeys on sinuous roads to freeway commuting, and it proved very efficient, permissive and aggressive when needed.
What I first noticed in the first few hours is comfort. The ZZR600 comes with a well-padded seat, a fairly high handlebar position, and a comfortable distance between seat and footpegs. This triangle makes it feel more like a sport-tourer than a pure sportbike so it allows for long trips in complete comfort and with the performance expected from a Kawasaki ride.
You will consider the relatively upright seating position and anticipate doggy handling but I would have to contradict you by saying that riding at a sane pace on the street, the ZZR600 can easily run as well as any other 600cc motorcycles which feature newer technologies and would seem more capable.
The only difference that you will probably notice would be weight. This Kawasaki is a bit heavier than modern machines that you probably consider buying but the difference doesn’t feel at all if you are not riding very fast at the street.
The bike’s most important unit is the carbureted motor. Yes, I wrote carbureted. Kawasaki uses a Mikuni BDSR 36R carburetor to feed its 599cc inline-four engine. Although it feels like it would need a bit more power compared to the latest generation 600s, the ZZR is still very fast and manages to satisfy the riding needs of a diverse kind of riders. Throttle response is crisp but still reserves its certain dose of smoothness that makes the bike adequate for starters.
Braking system, as well as virtually everything on this bike, is taken right out the ZX-6R. Kawasaki considered that if it was good enough for the racing version, the touring-oriented ZZR would have no problem with braking performance. Although they don’t offer quite as much initial bite as the latest generations of radial-mounted braking systems, the ZZR600’s differential-bore 6-piston calipers and 300mm rotors will make sure that the rider will be confident in its braking actions and still keep that rear wheel on the pavement. Yes, they are capable of doing that!
The six-speed tranny operates smoothly and values properly the power developed by the reliable engine. In collaboration with the smooth clutch, changing gears is an absolute pleasure but I recommend you to go easy on the gears and throttle because cautious riders get on their destinations with the biggest smiles on their faces.
I would strongly advise you to buy this motorcycle if you are searching for the machine that will mark your motorcycling initiation. I bet that you want it to look awesome and make you feel like a better rider. The 2008 Kawasaki ZZR600 does just that and much more.
Kawasaki ZZR600’s biggest advantage is without a doubt its price. The package offered is more than user-friendly, reliable and presents all the advantages possible for the MSRP of only $7,299. So if you are willing to buy an attractive-looking machine developing all the power needed for those freeway incursions, this is it.
The Kawasaki ZZR600 sets the standard for practical middleweight performance while offering class-leading comfort and cutting-edge style. Well on its way to legend status, this modern sportbike has earned a healthy respect from motorcycling public and motojournalists alike, thanks to its excellent overall balance and scintillating performance.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Four-stroke DOHC inline four, 16 valves
Bore x Stroke: 66.0 x 43.8mm
Compression Ratio: 12.8:1
Carburetion: (4) Mikuni BDSR 36R
Transmission: Six speed
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Aluminum perimeter design
Rake/trail: 23.5 degrees/3.7 in.
Front suspension/ wheel travel: 46mm Cartridge Front Fork, fully adjustable/ 4.7 in.
Rear suspension/ wheel travel: UNI-TRANK rear linkage, 20-way compression and rebound damping, ride height adjustment/ 5.3 in.
Front tire: 120/65ZR17
Rear tire: 180/55ZR17
Front brakes: 300mm dual hydraulic disc with six-piston calipers
Rear brake: Single 220mm disc with single-piston caliper
Overall length: 79.9 in.
Overall width: 28.7 in.
Overall height: 46.3 in.
Seat height: 32.3 in.
Ground clearance: 5.7 in.
Dry weight: 377 lbs.
Wheelbase: 55.1 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gal.
Color choices: Ebony or Candy Plasma Blue
Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Warranty: 12 months
599cc Four-Cylinder DOHC Engine
Cylinders have liner-lines, electroplated aluminum bores for decreased engine weight and improved heat transfer.
Pentroof/semi-hemi design of combustion chamber produces a higher compression ratio for more low-end torque and power throughout the rev range.
Magnesium alternator, sump, cylinder head, clutch, and cam chain covers cut weight.
The automatic fan is on the left side of the curved aluminum radiator to save space.
Includes a LCD temperature gauge.
A liquid-cooled oil cooler helps keep the oil cool.
Twin Ram Air Induction
Large ducts for more air pressure, which increases high speed power.
The extended opening increase pressure in the system for excellent volumetric efficiency.
Kawasaki Throttle Response Ignition Control (K-TRIC)
K-TRIC monitors throttle position and engine rpm, and controls ignition advance for the best power, fuel economy and detonation resistance.
Transistor Controlled Ignition with Digital Advance
A 16-bit central processing unit responds more quickly to engine needs.
Never needs adjustment.
The rotor has 12 projections to update the processor often.
Spark Plug-Mounted Ignition Coils
Ignition coils in the four spark plug caps weight less, consume less space, and provide strong, consistent spark.
To meet emissions requirements and make even more power at the same time, all models have a pre-catalyzer in the mid-pipe.
California models also have a catalyzer in the muffler.
Fully Adjustable Cartridge Front-Fork
Large, rigid 46mm fork delivers first-rate handling performance on the street.
Bottom-Link UNI-TRAK Rear Suspension
Extruded aluminum swingarm is lightweight and rigid.
Linkage ratios offer smooth and linear suspension response.
Upper shock mount is threaded for ride height adjustment.
Dual Semi-Floating Front Disc Brakes
Six-piston opposed front brake calipers with differential size piston and aggressive pad material offer excellent feel and bite.
300mm discs are 5mm thick to stand up to extreme use.
220mm Rear Disc Brake
Small overall diameter saves weight.
Lightweight, single-piston caliper produces quick, sure stops.
Lightweight Aluminum Perimeter Frame
Short wheelbase and steep head angle produce quick, responsive handling.
Rigid design provides good handling and durability.
Speedometer includes a coolant temperature gauge, odometer, trip meter, and a clock.
Coolant warning light incorporated on tachometer.
Handlebars are easily reached, flat seat supplies long ride comfort and wide mirrors reveal more than just the rider’s elbows.
Fairing and windscreen cut wind and provide great protection from the elements.
Authentic Kawasaki Accessories
Available accessories include tank bra, locks, alarm and bike cover.