In 2010, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R follows the trajectory of the previous year’s ZX-10R model and comes with the same engine and chassis refinements, the first for more power and torque and the second for sharper handling around the corners. Also, the bike is designed like its bigger sibling, leaving no clear visual difference between the two Kawasaki models.
This bike has plenty of features to start with, but probably the most interesting among them is the Showa Big Piston Front Fork. The system makes use of a large-diameter internal piston which is more effective under hard braking, especially before a corner, reducing damping pressure and improving front end feedback. Another strong point of the BPF is that it reduces the fork’s weight as it simplifies construction.
124.3-hp fuel injected inline-four engine
Having seen that it can break, we’re now more interested in ZX-6R’s engine performance. The manufacturer claims greater mid-range torque after adding new double bore velocity stacks, high-load cam profiles as well as new piston profiles, coated piston skirts and piston rings. We’re also sure that the revisions to the cam chain and the light, cool exhaust collector layout have much to do with achieving the low-and mid-range performance without affecting the top end of the powerband.
But Kawasaki didn’t just declared themselves satisfied with that, it needed to bring that power and torque to the rider’s right hand without this involving jerks, only smooth and instant throttle response and control. In order to achieve that, engineers added cylindrical guides to the top of the air cleaner box, bringing chirurgical precision to air intake systems and getting the maximum bang from every fuel load going into the cylinders. The throttle bodies were lengthened, increasing distance between oval sub-throttle and round main throttles 10mm, resulting in a much smoother transition, reducing inlet turbulence and increasing efficiency. Also, the cylinder porting and ignition coils were revised in the quest for performance.
As weight is a key factor, the making of this inline-four involved finding solutions for reducing it. And if that meant making the camshafts from SCM, revising the top injector mounting plate, narrowing the transmission gears, revising and relocating coolant reservoir and heat pads, Kawasaki engineers didn’t boggle in doing it.
There was nothing to stop them at the chassis chapter either and the recipe was pretty much the same. They aimed at lighter weight so they’ve made the subframe from a two-piece aluminum die-casting, revised the frame brackets and brought a new throttle housing material on the scene. Chassis balance and mass centralization are achieved by revising the frame stiffness around the swingarm pivot and the rear engine mounts optimizes front-rear rigidity balance. Strangely, the engine’s center of gravity is 16mm higher as it gets mount with a stepper cylinder bank angle. Like on all modern super sport motorcycles, the new ZX-6R offers a short side muffler, which lowers the weight and an exhaust pre-chamber for the same purpose.
Practically built around the rider, the chassis offers a 10mm lower seating position, making it easier for riders to flatfoot the ground, but the sport riding position is enhanced by the handlebars, which have been brought closer to the rider. Also, the design of the gas tank (flat on top, narrow on the sides) reveals more space for the rider to tuck into the fairing and keep its knees close to the tank. The rake angle is now stepper for sharper cornering.
At the front, all that braking power is applied on a pair of 220mm rear petal disc (10mm larger than on the previous generation model) while the rear brakes feature a revised brake lever mounted coaxially with the footpeg, increasing that way mid-stroke braking efficiency and feel.
If after reading the 2010 changes and additions, you still feel like checking out even more evolutionary steps, the history link I’ve further added will surely get you familiarized with the way Kawasaki ended up at this level of development.
Kawasaki is among the last of the four Japanese manufacturers to introduce the 2010 lineup, so it has who to fight against with in the middleweight super sport class.
For starters, the 2010 Honda CBR 600RR ABS is a highly evolved model, which now features the electronically controlled Combined ABS system, something that, like ZX-6R’s Big Piston Front Fork, is aimed at improving speed around the corners. The difference is that Honda does it by helping the rider brake in the very last moment before engaging in a high-speed corner while Kawasaki makes sure that the corner is being successfully negotiated.
With a revised ECU, longer exhaust and new color schemes, the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R6 can’t claim being upgraded, but definitely a strong fighter against the 2010 middleweight Ninja. So is the Suzuki GSX-R600 , which also gets new color schemes for 2010.
While the mechanical and chassis features are top notch and a comparison between it and the previously mentioned 600cc bikes in its class will position the Kawasaki ZX-6R on a more than decent position, it seems that designers haven’t had the best idea when inspiring on the ZX-10R for a 2010 design of the liter bike’s smaller sibling.
The fairing is completely new and it features an aerodynamic shape that offers improved wind protection for the rider and also minimizes the effect of crosswind. Even though completely redesigned, the front end gives the impression that things could have gone much better as the headlights are practically masked into the fairing and the windscreen looks completely separated from it. The mirrors are a high point though as they offer good rear end visibility so at least the bike is practical if not beautiful. Also up front, the one-piece fender annihilates any form of attraction that this bike might still have exerted on a Kawi fan.
At the rear end, the new inner fairing is mounted above the swingarm and reduces turbulence while keeping the tail clean. The massive exhaust muffler looks perfectly integrated even though it isn’t as discrete as the one of the Honda (underseat exhaust) and Yamaha.
Wheels are 17-inch five-spoke aluminum and they are black-painted no matter the color of choice for your 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R. By the way, this can be Passion Red, Metallic Spark Black or Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black.
Kawasaki claims their Ninja ZX-10R is “the middleweight sportbike that won just about every magazine comparo,” so let’s just see what the magazines have to say regarding to it:
"...the new ZX-6R blew everyone out of the water this time. Not only did it turn the quickest lap time, but every rider who finished riding the Kawasaki at the end of a session had nothing but praise for the little green Ninja in nearly every aspect of performance." – sportrider
"This extremely capable all-around package proved to be number one in our outright Superpole Session lap times by a tenth of a second over the race-bred Yamaha." – motorcycle-usa
“Strong bottom- and mid-range, together with a screaming top end, makes the Ninja second only to the 675 Daytona in terms of engine satisfaction.” – superbike
"The 2009 ZX-6R is the most powerful standard 600 MCN has ever tested with a beasty 115bhp at the back wheel." – MCN
"...the ZX has proved it’s as good as it gets in the 600cc category. Combining class-leading power with a highly responsive and trustworthy chassis are the major elements of the formula for middleweight class success." – motorcycle
Kawasaki gets rid of the Monster Energy version for 2010 and offers only the previous year’s base model now painted in more attractive colors and at an MSRP of $10,499.
Kawasaki managed to pull it through more than decently with this one. Even though stylistically it isn’t quite the definition of success, the refinements suffered are surely expected to bring it on top of the favorites again this year as no other manufacturer has come up with anything better than the great Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
- Displacement: 599cc
- Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
- Compression ratio: 13.3:1
- Fuel injection: DFI with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles, two injectors per throttle body
- Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
- Transmission: Six speed
- Final drive: X-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Rake / trail: 24 deg / 4.1 in.
- Frame type: Aluminum perimeter
- Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
- Rear tire: 180/55 ZR17
- Wheelbase: 55.1 in.
- Front suspension / wheel travel: 41 mm inverted Showa Big Piston Front fork with top-out springs, stepless compression and rebound damping, fully-adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
- Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, top-out spring and pillow ball upper mount, dual-range (high/low-speed) stepless compression damping, 25-way adjustable rebound damping, fully-adjustable spring preload / 5.3 in.
- Front brakes: Dual 300mm petal rotors with dual radial-mounted, four-piston, four-pad calipers
- Rear brake: Single 220mm petal rotor with single-piston caliper
- Overall length: 82.3 in.
- Overall width: 28.0 in.
- Overall height: 43.9 in.
- Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
- Seat height: 32.1 in.
- Curb weight: 421.2 lbs.
Features & Benefits
- Lean physique, low-mass, awesome power delivery and precise control
- Camshafts are made of chrome-moly steel
- Lightweight magnesium engine covers are standard
- Lightweight top injector mounting plate
- Lightweight transmission gears and gear dogs
- Lightweight oil pump and starter gears
- Inlet pressure pulse monitor does away with cam angle sensor, further contributing to lightness
- Cassette-type transmission makes it easy to quickly swap gear ratios, reducing set-up time at the track
Massive Mid-Range Performance
- Double bore velocity stacks feature inlets at two different heights, for increased performance in both the mid and high-rpm ranges
- Cam and tappets nitriding enables high-load cam profiles, for maximum performance
- Crown-finished pistons
- Molybdenum-coated piston skirts for reduced friction and engine break-in
- Low-tension piston rings reduce mechanical loss
- Advanced cam chain guides stabilize chain motion and further reduce mechanical loss
- Exhaust collector layout contributes to superb low and mid-range performance while maintaining high-rpm performance
More Precise Throttle Control
- Cylindrical guides in the top of the air cleaner box ensure accurately sprayed fuel mist from the secondary injectors into the intake funnels, improving combustion efficiency
- Long throttle bodies between oval sub-throttles and round main throttles yield a smooth intake transition, for reduced inlet turbulence and increased efficiency
- Advanced cylinder porting delivers excellent cylinder-filling and scavenging
- High-current secondary coil circuitry for optimum combustion efficiency
- The sub-frame is a 2-piece aluminum die-casting consisting of a front and rear section
- The lightweight sub-frame is very narrow, for a compact and slim rear end
- Intake resonator box and supports for the instrument panel and mirrors are unitized with the Ram Air duct, contributing to weight savings and increased rigidity
Tuned Chassis Balance and Mass Centralization
- Frame stiffness around the swingarm pivot and the rear engine mounts optimizes front-rear rigidity balance
- Engine is rotated forward around the output shaft for steeper intake angle and excellent CG
- Exhaust layout with a short side muffler keeps the weight low
- Exhaust pre-chamber further contributes to mass centralization
Ergonomics and Chassis Feedback
- Seat-pegs-bar relationship places handlebars close to the rider and turned in slightly for a highly intuitive riding position
- Fuel tank profile is flared around its top, similar to the ZX-10R, providing a large contact patch for excellent rider feedback
- Slim-waisted fuel tank makes it easy for the rider to grip the tank with his knees or to hang off in turns
- Sculpted seat allows the rider to shift his body far back on the rear seat step, helping to reduce rider fatigue
- Steep rake angle for quick steering response and enhanced communication from the front tire
- Rear brake master cylinder reservoir forward of the swingarm mount frees up space around the footpeg, for simplicity and weight savings
Low Seat Height
- Narrow rear sub-frame makes it easy to reach the ground
- Front of seat is narrow and low, for a slim riding position and a short reach to the pavement
- ZX-6R features Showaâ€™s Big Piston Front fork (BPF) design, for fantastic braking and initial corner turn-in
- The BPF eliminates many of the internal components used in a cartridge-type fork, simplifying construction and resulting in lighter overall fork weight
- The large-diameter of the BPFâ€™s internal piston allows a reduction in damping pressure, for better feedback and smoother action
- The ZX-6R swingarm uses many of the same parts as the ZX-10R; both left and right inner plates, the left outer plate, rear stand bosses, brake caliper stopper, chain guard and swingarm pivot shaft
- 220mm rear petal disc
- Rear brake lever is mounted coaxially with the footpeg for excellent mid-stroke braking efficiency and optimum feel
Race-Quality Steering Damper
- A race-quality adjustable Ã–hlins steering damper with relief valve and twin-tube design is fitted as standard equipment
- Highly evolved fairing for great wind protection, minimal cross-wind effects
- Position lamps are integral with the projector beam headlights; the Ninja ZX-6R features dual position lamps like the ZX-10R
- One-piece fender offers excellent aerodynamics
- Inner fender above the swingarm helps to reduce turbulence and keeps the undertail clean
- Front brake hose routing with a three-way joint at the lower triple-clamp facilitates bleeding air from the brake lines
- Similar in design to that of the ZX-10R, the instrument panel gives at-a-glance information to the rider