2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
If I was to define the Ninja ZX-6R in just a few words, I would say that it is one of the best examples concerning fast cornering, hard-hitting accelerations and high-speed stability in the 600cc class. I wouldn’t be able to suppress my opinions and avoid naming it the sleekest racer out there.
2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
Engine:Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Transmission:Six-speed transmission with X-Ring Chain
Top Speed:170 mph
On the race track, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R has already proven to be a winner and plans on taking its success on the streets, where riders will find it difficult to criticize and easy to fall in love with.
Kawasaki’s key of success on the track was the bike’s ability to handle easy, take corners fast and sustain that feel with even more power when opening the throttle, so this is what they implemented on the 2008 street legal model also.
Every rider wishes to enjoy two wheels excitement on the best motorcycle in the class that he considers himself ready for and back in 1995, when the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R was first introduced, everybody knew who the leader was. The 600cc Ninja was placed way up front its competition with the help of its aluminum frame (a big first for the entire category), lightweight (401.2 lb) and great engine performance.
In the ‘90s, Kawasaki’s middleweight became known as the fastest accelerating middleweight motorcycle to ever see the streets (0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds) and, of course, it was identified with the help of its green color.
In 2002, Kawasaki decided that they have to remain class-leaders and in a desperate attempt, the cylinder capacity was increased from 600cc to 636cc. The bodywork was redesigned, resulting in a sportier looking machine.
For 2003, the Japanese manufacturer continued by improving the engine’s performance with a fuel injection system which extracted more power from the four-cylinder engine. Now that the bike disposed of more horses, the rest of its features were adapted to the change. The chassis became lighter and stronger (an always benefic change) and the brakes now featured four pistons instead of six.
From now on the bike would suffer upgrades at every two years and 2004 model year was not among those years.
For 2005 the bike’s engine became a quicker-revving unit (12,250 rpm) developing 105 hp and the frame and swingarm were upgraded. 2005 model year features a completely redesigned fairing, under seat exhaust and a black-painted aluminum frame. The 2005 model gave a big clue on how the bike will look in the future while the 2006 only received some new color changes.
The 2007 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R proves that engineers and designers really did their homework as the bike was totally redesigned. The engine’s cylinder capacity was decreased back to 599cc and tuned for high-revving performance. Also, the bike is more compact and a greater sharp-handler. 2007 model year carries over to 2008 without major changes.
It is easy to name a bike’s competition, but hard to find the closest competitor for the 2008 Ninja ZX-6R as every Japanese manufacturer has entered the race with some very successful models.
Honda has definitely caught the big wave with the 2008 CBR600RR as the bike is fitted with Dual Stage Fuel Injection, Pro-Link rear suspension, and HESD electronic steering damper, all destined to properly value the 599cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder. Featuring aerodynamic fairing and windscreen, the CBR600RR defines racing looks.
The completely new Yamaha YZF-R6 is one of the greatest middleweight sport bikes out there and it makes a great impression with the help of its 599cc liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder; DOHC, 16 titanium valves, including YCC-I, Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake. This one doesn’t feature an under seat exhaust, but it does have the sleekest looking fairing in its category.
Last but not least, Suzuki GSX-R600 is characterized by the compact combination of chassis and a 599cc, four-stroke, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve engine. The bike is equipped with advanced electronics, effective suspension and radial-mount brakes to not only make great power and accelerate quickly, but to handle efficient, also.
Frankly, this bike looks like a Green arrow… or a Candy Plasma Blue, Yellow or Ebony one. Kawasaki has the talent of creating sleek looking motorcycles with ease and this makes a product truly aerodynamic and an eye catcher.
The front of the fairing is defined through a central ram air duct designed to create a smooth pass towards the windscreen. On each side, there’s a stylish headlight, each requiring space which creates better air flow towards the rider’s elbows when riding at high speed.
Each side of the fairing also features the very necessary and smooth-looking integrated signal lights with the Ninja handwriting above.
The fuel tank, seat and rear end are all designed to properly accommodate the rider and make it feel and act as an integrated part of the motorcycle. Frame, swingarm, and virtually everything that isn’t faring or rim was painted matte black for more rough apparel and beautiful contrasts.
I’ve always enjoyed riding supersport bikes and this one is a real blast so it suites with all the possible requirements. It feels more at home on the racing circuit and the street is no enemy for it as well.
Immediately after getting your bottom on its seat and twisting its throttle when heating up the engine you know you’re on a Ninja. The sound betrays it and the riding position, also.
I quickly put it into first and got going because I was anxious to see the bike’s evolution as I haven’t been riding Ninjas for a while. I was amazed by the incredible acceleration and hard-hitting power all through the rpm range, especially low and mid-range. This is due to the bike’s fuel injection system which properly makes the engine potential noticeable with a single twist of throttle.
In the city, the 599cc four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, inline-four proves mastering the art of revving quickly and efficiently when necessary and still remaining easily to deal with when the given situation requires it.
The high-revving engine makes a good team with the six-speed transmission mated to it. This last unit makes shifting a kid’s play and the engaging and disengaging part is covered by a smooth shifting clutch.
You will have no problems accommodating to it and having the time of your life even off the racing circuit. It is also a relatively practical bike as it doesn’t get you tired easily so you can take it to work, pop up a wheelie and get off all the stress gathered in eight hours of work.
But if you really want to exploit it as it was meant when created, take it to a race track and have the time of your life. I did so and didn’t felt like getting off of it for a good period.
This is where the bike’s chassis makes you feel like a real racer as you lean over more than you’ve ever dream to, but when you start accelerating out of those corners in second or third gear, excitement doesn’t stop flowing. Great power a twist of throttle away and amazing riding feel all through the rev range. Quick changes of gear is everything this bike needed in order to become a winner and thank Kawasaki, it has them.
Fully adjustable 41mm fork in the front and a rear shock take the riding feel to a whole new level as they are made to suit every talented rider. You will feel the bike stable when cornering and at high speeds also. The 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R isn’t your everyday toy so it is good to have it go like a train in a straight line and gentle in those knee-dragging corners.
But what goes fast must stop fast and this Ninja is no exception. Fitted with dual 300mm petal-type rotors with four-piston, four-pad calipers at front and single 210mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper, the bike stops quickly and without surprises. You will feel the brakes very reassuring after worming up, but you won’t feel like hitting them very hard as you’ll enjoy riding it as fast as it can go.
Kawasaki has always demonstrated being an innovative manufacturer with great ideas that were implemented on the competition’s motorcycles with more than one occasion, but what the other manufacturers don’t seem to learn from Kawasaki is to keep their retail prices as low as this motorcycle manufacturer does.
Priced at $9,099, the 2008 Kawasaki Ninja is the cheapest middleweight sportbike available on the market today. Even the Ebony painted limited edition, marketed for an MSRP of $9,399, barely equals GSX-R 600’s suggested retail price.
It leaded its category more than twelve years ago and it is not far from doing the very same thing now. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is the machine to ride in 2008 and the best big step towards the awesome Ninja ZX-10R.
Featuring a reliable, high-revving engine developing incredible power, no matter where the needles are situated, and a great looking, aerodynamic fairing, Kawasaki proves it has taken everything to the extreme, except the numbers on the price tag.
Engine and Transmission
Displacement: 599 cc
Type: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x Stroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
Maximum Torque: 40 lb ft @ 11,500 rpm
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
Final Drive: X-Ring Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Rake/Trail: 25 deg / 4.3 in.
Frame type: Aluminum perimeter
Front Tire Size: 120/70-ZR17
Rear Tire Size: 180/55-ZR17
Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
Front Suspension / wheel travel: 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with top-out springs, stepless rebound damping, stepless compression 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 / 5.2 in.
Front Brake Type: Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with four-piston, four-pad calipers
Rear Brake Type: Single 210mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.5 gal.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.
Dry Weight: 368.2 lbs.
Color: Lime Green, Candy Plasma Blue, Vivid Yellow, Special Edition: Ebony
Warranty: 12 months
Good Times™ Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 Months
- Incredible power-to-weight ratio
- Race-oriented performance
- Track-tuned handling
- Aggressive aerodynamic styling
High-Revving 599cc Four-Cylinder, DOHC Engine:
- Compact, narrow and lightweight design
- Tri-axis crankshaft and transmission shaft layout optimizes the engine’s center of gravity, reduces pitch changes during heavy braking and gives the rider more-accurate feedback from the chassis
- Light and strong forged pistons
- Narrow engine design gives excellent ground clearance
Four-Valve Cylinder Head:
- Low cylinder head height with compact valve train
- Intake ports and coolant passages developed using flow analysis for efficient cylinder filling, more power, and maximum cooling efficiency
- Forged sintered aluminum spring retainers are half the weight of steel retainers and allow higher rpm
Ram Air Induction:
- Central ram air duct offers a straighter path to the airbox for maximum intake efficiency and provides the mounting surface for the instrument panel, eliminating brackets and weight
- Flow analysis used to design efficient ducts to the airbox that also prevent water from reaching the air filter
- Compact airbox and air cleaner are highly efficient and contribute to the minimal riding position
Digital Fuel Injection:
- 38mm throttle bore helps produce more torque in the mid-range, while short throttle body length delivers good over-rev characteristics
- Ultra-fine atomizing injectors aid combustion efficiency, for better power output and lower fuel consumption
TCBI Ignition with Digital Advance:
- High-speed 32-bit ECU processor provides precise engine management
- Spark plug-mounted ignition coils are compact and help reduce weight
Pre-chamber Equipped Under-seat Muffler:
- Exhaust header design contributes to improved exhaust efficiency
- Exhaust pre-chamber located below the engine contributes to better mass centralization
- Under-seat silencer is small and light to help mass centralization and allow for a more aerodynamic tailsection
- Cassette-type transmission with a racing-style gear stack allows easier trackside ratio changes
- Close ratio transmission increases circuit performance
Racing-Style Slipper Clutch:
- Racing-type slipper clutch reduces chassis disturbance when making rapid downshifts
- Optional springs, spring retainers and shims are available to fine-tune the clutch for specific track conditions
Gear Position Sensor:
- Gear position sensor gives instant information to the rider, this is especially useful for improving consistency when testing settings on the racetrack
- System is compatible with the semi-automatic shifters (legal in AMA Supersport racing), which temporarily cut ignition to facilitate clutchless shifts at full-throttle
Lightweight Twin-Spar Aluminum Perimeter Frame:
- Twin-spar perimeter-type frame is a mix of pressed and cast aluminum components welded together. This combination minimizes frame weight while still providing high strength and stability for responsive handling
- Chassis’s optimum center of gravity makes for easy roll response - particularly important negotiating a series of s-turns or returning to vertical after exiting a corner
Uni-Trak® Rear Suspension:
- Uni-Trak® rear suspension system features pillow ball upper mount for a more direct feel and improved feedback
- Compact frame and engine allow a longer swingarm, which makes it easier to control rear wheel powerslides
- Rear shock is fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping. Ride height can be adjusted by adding/removing optional 1mm shims at the upper shock mount
- Equipped with a top-out spring which improves the rear wheel’s ability to follow the road surface when the rear end is light under hard braking
- Small piggyback shock reservoir is designed to save weight
41mm Inverted Cartridge Front Fork:
- Fully-adjustable 41mm inverted cartridge fork provides exceptional rigidity
- Equipped with top-out springs so the front wheel better follows the road surface when the front end is light during hard acceleration
- Bottom mounted main fork spring completely submerged in oil, minimizing cavitation and delivering stable suspension performance even under demanding racetrack conditions
- Stiff settings are suitable for track use
Radial Mounted Front Disc Brakes:
- Radial mounted four-piston, four-pad front brake calipers improve brake feel over a wider range of operation
- A separate brake pad is used for each piston. Individual pads provide increased cooling efficiency and can absorb more heat without deforming or losing brake feel at the lever than a large single pad, so they maintain consistent brake feel lap after lap
- Petal design brake discs offer excellent cooling and warp resistance
- Design is the most aerodynamically efficient of any Ninja sportbike available
- Three-piece front fender with light and compact projector beam headlights and integrated front and rear turn signals add up to high aero efficiency
- Small but highly efficient ram air duct
- Exhaust system’s under-engine resonator allows the use of a smaller under-seat muffler, which allows a cleaner tail section further minimizing drag
- Different color panels create a sporty, aggressive image
- Ultra-compact chassis permits a ideal man-machine interface
- Slim fuel tank design makes it easier to grip the tank and seat when hanging off in a turn
Advanced Electronic Instrumentation:
- Multifunction odometer, tripmeter, clock and lap timer/stopwatch