2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R Review –

26 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R Review –

Middleweight Green Machine More Extreme


Last week we provided you with a mini report on the new ZX-6R filed directly from the bike’s launch in Japan you can see here. Now it’s time for our full report, including a cool video put together by our image whiz Fonzie.

In sportbike comparison, only the finest of lines separate a winner from an also-ran. The epitome of these indistinct distinctions surely must reside in the ultra-competitive four-cylinder 600cc class. In our 2008 Supersport Shootout. the Honda CBR stood at the head of the class for its light weight and mondo-midrange motor, while the Gixxer Suzuki finished close behind for its nearly complete lack of foibles. Yamaha’s R6 excelled at the track.

Meanwhile, the ZX-6R took class-leading votes in the more humble categories of brake and slipper-clutch performance and was let down by an engine that felt strangled at its upper end (see sidebar below).

As such, it’s no surprise to see this new edition of ZX-6R with several tweaks to its modest motor. It begins with several modifications to the intake system of the injected engine. From the airbox, Kawi fitted new double-bore intake funnels that are a simpler form of the variable-length intakes on Yamaha sportbikes.

These velocity stacks have inlets at two different (but static) heights, with the taller inlet boosting midrange power while the short stack maximizes top-end production.

Combustion efficiency is aided by new cylindrical guides at the top of the air cleaner to direct more accurately sprayed fuel from the secondary injectors. The distance between the dual throttle plates of the 38mm oval-bore throttle bodies has been lengthened 10mm for a smoother transition through to the revised cylinder-head porting.

Hidden Horsepower

The 2007-8 ZX-6R was held back most in shootouts by the underwhelming boogie from its powerplant. It was dead last in the horsepower competition with a lowly 97.7 ponies at 12,600 rpm, and it beat only the peaky R6 in midrange power. To meet American noise requirements, its exhaust valve closes as the engine is reaching for its power peak.

Kawasaki ZX 130 KAZE

Sadly, it signs off by 13,000 rpm, far short of its 15,600-rpm rev limit.

However, the bike’s computer can be tricked into reverting to the less-restrictive tuning of the European market Ninjas by bridging a wire in an electrical connector. We outlined how to do the mod in our Supersport Shootout sidebar. With the jump made and now keeping its exhaust valve fully open at high rpm, horsepower jumped to nearly 103 hp at 14,000 revs, much more competitive with its rivals.

For 2009, U.S.-spec ZXs again have this exhaust-restriction ECU programming, but this time we’re told there are only 2 hp missing from the free-revving Euro model. Kawi claims an 8-hp boost in power with this new model, which should translate into about 104 rear-wheel horses at the top end, competitive with its rivals. Now, if we could again find the right wires to cross, we might find a new class leader.

Other engine upgrades include more powerful stick coils for the ignition, revised piston profiles with a molybdenum coating on their skirts and lower-friction piston rings. The titanium exhaust system begins with its four header pipes using crossover tubes for lower-end scavenging before it flows to a four-into-one collector. A catalyzer-equipped under-engine chamber eventually flows to a stylized side-mount muffler.

It adds up to a claimed 124 crankshaft horsepower (116 previous) at 13,500 rpm, and 130 hp with full ram-air effect. It’s now down just 2 hp from the Euro model, and we expect about 105 horses at the rear wheel.

Kawasaki ZX 130 KAZE
Kawasaki ZX 130 KAZE
Kawasaki ZX 130 KAZE

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