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Kawasaki ZX-6R Sports Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki ZX-6R motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 3

Kawasaki’s new-for-2000 ZX-6R got a new swingarm, a revised rear shock and engine internals and a facelift – not good enough to compete with Yamaha’s stunning R6 on the track nor Honda’s new ally-framed CBR600 on the road. In 2002 it got a beefier 636cc motor, which made it a much improved road tool.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Kawasaki ZX-6R's carb-fed, 16v four cylinder motor still sounds mega, with the gruff airbox roar that makes caning these Kawasakis so addictive. It’s fast, too, ripping to over 160mph out of the box. But the icing on the cake is its flexibility – it’s hard to believe it’s packing just 599cc. The gearbox should behave itself – if it’s less than slick and positive try another bike. In 2002 essentially the same bike was released with a 636cc motor bringing even more road-friendly performance.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Thankfully Kawasaki introduced suspension grease nipples on the J-series ZX-6Rs, so the shock has a better chance of retaining some of its performance than previous efforts. The revised geometry makes for improved cornering and the machine feels considerably lighter than before.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The fuel tap (hard to find and hard to operate on the move), screen brace, and analogue clocks date the Kawasaki ZX-6R Js. On a positive note the mirrors are excellent, the pillion seat works for about 60 miles and the lights are bright.

Kawasaki ZX-6R (2000-2002)

Detail Value
Dealer used prices
£2,010 (2000) - £2,740 (2002)
Private used prices
£1,670 (2000) - £2,460 (2002)
  View full used price info
Engine size 599 cc
Power 109 bhp
Top speed 163 mph
Insurance group 14 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 3 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 3 rating is 4.5
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Corrosion is the Kawasaki ZX-6R's biggest bugbear. If the bike you’re looking at’s been garaged and pampered it should be fine. If left to the elements the finish quickly dulls, the paint on the brake calipers can flake off and the shock’s performance suffers as it gets shotblasted by road crud without a hugger.

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

No, it’s not great value. The J-series Kawasakis cost the same as their CBR and R6 rivals and yet offer a less satisfying ride and much lower spec technology. Find a Kawasaki ZX-6R for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 14 of 17

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Model History

2000: Kawasaki ZX-6R introduced.
2000: Supercedes G-series ZX-6R with a new singarm, revised shock, engine and gearbox improvements.
2002: Model essentially re-released with a bog-bore 636cc motor. It claimed 116bhp and 52ft lb of torque.

Other Versions

None.

Specifications

Top speed 163 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.9 secs
Max power 109 bhp
Max torque 49 ft-lb
Weight 172 kg
Seat height 830 mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Average fuel consumption 39 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 14 of 17
Engine size 599 cc
Engine specification 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame Aluminium twin spar
Front suspension adjustment Preload, compression, rebound
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, compression, rebound
Front brakes Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/65 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

See all Kawasaki ZX-6R motorcycles for sale

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3005 miles

£5,694

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4250 miles

£5,895

Kawasaki
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11010 miles

£3,295

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7387 miles

£5,995

Kawasaki
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9834 miles

£4,495

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(59 reviews)

  • UNDERESTIMATED

    leighrichardson

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Had the j1 model for the second year now and what a bike it is. I have had all sorts of bikes from twins to triples and fours etc but this bike surprised me. Keep it in decent nick and maintenance and it'l reward you immensely.. Comfortable on the road, Sharp enough on the track,Long trip abroad no problem. Not done too much 2 up so cant say.. Fast group on trackdays no problem, fuel economy brilliant, not the fastest 600 out there but real world useable power and still enough poke to exite or scare you. Its how you ride the bike not what you own. Highly reccomended for anyone with or without much experience.

    28 April 2012

  • SEX-FREE-SEX (636!)

    tamlin23

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    My second bike was the B1H ninja (the one after these A1P's), that particular model put me right off sports bikes, especially as I am a rather lanky 6'1" chap. But this A1P version is a whole different prospect. It doesn't look as good as the models that proceeded it, but then that could be said for the majority of bikes, and the lower buy-in value would obviously reflect that. But as far as comfort goes, on the road, this bike is the best VALUE sports bike out there (in my humble opinion). Don't think you need a litre of engine between your legs to have fun on a bike either, quite the opposite is true I have found. Why have a bike on the road that you can hardly ever use to anywhere near its potential, when you can get near enough the same speed (on the roads), but actually get the feeling of ragging the bike to get it, really using what you have, and making it work for you. Sounds daft maybe, but there is little pleasure knowing you can't really use your bike close to its potential. This ninja shall reward you with a spine tingling roar from its induction, making you want to nail it at every opportunity. Also, newer 600's don't perform as well on the road, they just don't! The BHP figures improve every year, but seemingly at the expense of real world power through the revs. when it finally reaches the place at the top of the revs where the extra 2.3678 BHP is set up for, you will be behind the next car or at the lights! Useless! Buy one of these, it has to be the 636 (sex-free-sex) engine, and you certainly won't regret it.

    23 April 2010

  • Disappointing

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 3

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    I owned my 2000 ZX6R J1 for 2 years. And what a frustrating 2 years it was. The engine was very good with plenty of power and a great noise, the build quality was good and it was very realiable, but unfortunately there were massive handling issues with this bike: it simply didn't want to go round corners. I adjusted the geometry and suspension and replaced the tyres with Bridgestones which definately helped with turning but made the bike too unstable to be enjoyable. Despite the higher bars/lower footpegs compared to the pure race-reps like the R6 and GSXR, I found the bike really uncomfortable when riding for more than half an hour. There were also a number of 'dated' parts to this bike (analogue speedo, fuel tap, boxey fairing stay) which i suppose helped keep the price down compared to it's rivals. That said, i think the bike looks fantastic and seems to be quicker in a straight line compared to it's rivals. However, for me that power isn't useable because in the back of your mind, you're dreading the next corner wondering if you'll be able to get around it. Maybe i had a bad one, but i would say definately try before you buy.

    22 March 2010

  • Ninja ZX6R 2002 - The Best of the bunch that year???

    Yellowninja600

    GLASGOW , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Well... Where do I start? I had been riding around on an RS125 for almost a year before passing my bike test (licence loss and an extended test due to some creative lies on behalf of the Police)... The RS was fully de-restricted with a few extras, it was light and easy to throw around and returned decent fuel economy... The Ninja feels a little heavier on the front but not drastically! The acceleration is phenomenal compared to the RS. It could really be doing with slightly longer standard gearing mind you. The front brakes on my machine are TERRIBLE. Braided lines have been fitted, fluid replaced, bled to death and new disc/pads fitted and they are STILL vague! For 6 potters they have to be the worst brakes I have ever experienced! The bike returns a very decent MPG although carb balancing every other month is required to keep things running stutter free. I find it extremely comfortable over long distances, for a sports bike. I have been to London and back on her with my only complaint being the weather (freezing, literally). No back/wrist issues and the bike is capable of carrying throw-over panniers and a tank bag without issue. Suspension wise I found the Ninja way to soft. Not to worry though as there is masses of adjustments that can be made very easily (make sure you know what you are doing first!). I have covered well over 8000miles on her in just over 8 months and have used her for the daily commute as well as fun at the weekends. The winter does take it's toll on things if proper preventative maintenance isn't administered! The only major problem I had was the front calipers requiring a strip-down and complete overhaul which wasn't bad considering they'd never been done before and the bike is over 6 years old (never improved braking though!). Whilst stripping the calipers themselves I witnessed, first hand, the extreme attention to detail and precision engineering which is evident throughout the motorcycle. The materials used are also of high quality and long lasting durability, a rarity these days! My main complaint with the bike, apart from the front brakes, is the markings on the rear swing-arm that assist wheel alignment. These are too far apart and too badly manufactured to ensure completely accurate wheel-alignment! I'm sure that this is an over-sight on Kawasaki's part and has been remedied on later models. If I could go back to before I bought this bike and start all over again I would definitely pick the same bike over all the 600cc rivals. I found the Yamaha R6s and the GSXRs far too cheaply manufactured/finished for my liking. The Honda CBR600RR would be a strong contender but I just couldn't buy a Honda... It's the one bike manufacturer that seems to have a confused image in my mind... I also wouldn't really consider any other bike manufacturer in the same league as the top 4 Japs for the type of bike I like. The Kawasaki brand is burned into my sole now...

    07 May 2008

  • Traded in a '95 Ducati 750SS (my first bike) for my 2000 ZX6-R J1

    cornbeef76

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    The major plus point is just how flexible this bike is. It's as happy at going for a Sunday morning blast as touring across Europe. My mates ride a Honda RVF400, Ducati 916 and GSXR600-K4 and the ZX6-R can still hold it's own in that company on any weekend ride out. My old Ducati used to make my shoulders ache after 200 miles or so but the ZX6R gives me no such problems, unlike my mates bikes. I took the ZX6R to Germany in Summer '06, doing about 4-500 miles per day (try that on a 916), complete with soft panniers, tank bag and a small rucksack. The bike stayed very composed and the luggage didn't upset the bikes handling anywhere near as much as I expected it to. With luggage, it will still happily cruise all day at 100mph but will easily run up to 120mph as and when you need to with handling that was stable and good enough to be fun, if not exciting. As you would expect when touring, I rode it in the rain and it stood outside overnight but I've had no problems with corroded fasteners, though judging by the muck under the hugger, they're well worth having. Without the luggage, I took it around the Nurburgring on my way back home. It was very forgiving compared to the slow steering Ducati and saved me from at least one accident. Sounds fantastic when you cane it, even without a race can and still plenty of bottom end too. Loads of comments about the ZX6R being not as good on the road as the CBR600F and not as good on the track as the R6 which is a very pessimistic way of looking at it. Personally, I see it as a better road bike than the R6 or GSXR but more of a hooligan than the CBR-F, ZZR600 or Thundercat. Overall, it's definitely a jack of all trades but that suits me fine. Bad points are; carb icing on cold mornings; brakes lack feel (braided hoses coming soon) even though they do work well; cost of the major service (valve clearances); no fuel gauge and the fuel tap is impossible to operate on the move (I use the trip meter and get about 120 miles before reserve); The clocks require a definite look down and need more than a glance to take in any info (This and the fuel tap/no gauge are my reasons for giving only 2 stars for equipment). It does lack the pose factor of the R6, GSXR, CBR-RR but you can't buy a nice one of those of the same age for what I paid for my ZX6R with less than 10k on the clock.

    10 December 2007

  • First bike great bike

    Alan Wooldridge

    READING , UK

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I went from a Honda nsr125 to a kawasaki ninja 600 and i actually find it nicer and easier to ride. The bike is smooth through all the gears and you do not need to be redlining every gear to enjoy the bike. This bike is lovely to look at and a great first bike.

    25 June 2007

  • My first bike ever ZX 6R (J2) and I love it, brought it a month before I learned to ride

    diva4midwifery

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Passed my test Friday, took my bike out in the evening, scared myself, but the bike was so nimble, so easy to handle and so forgiving. I can't really talk all techno as thats more of a boy/male thing, but I seriously have no regrets. The standard exhaust sounds fantastic gong through the gears and revs, its responsive and commands respect on the road. It is highly fashionable, and although it has been replaced by the 636 and different colour schemes it still looks fantastic. Its seriously a unisexual bike, and will do what you tell it, if you have to go slow it will and it can keep up with my mates TL1000. Its a true mean fighting machine. Don't be put off if you are a first timer like me, riding it is truly better than sex. Strengths: Its looks, handling, braking, ride quality, comfy seat and ease of riding. Weaknesses: It really hates the damp and cold to get started but hey who doesn't, but once started its fine.

    10 June 2006

  • Get one

    billyninja

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Having owned a Bandit 250 for 2 years (and a CZ before that), I felt it was time for an upgrade. I'd ridden other larger bikes but there was something about the Ninja that appealed. Now I own it and I have to say it really is perfect for me. Almost. The handling is solid as a rock. The bike is so easy to control - if you want to ride slowly, it's easy. If you want to go fast... it's even easier. Bottom end and mid range power is surprisingly strong, but the bike is an absolute blast 7k upwards. The power, coupled with the induction roar makes me smile everytime. Weight is barely more than my old 250, and the handling seems even quicker in the turn in. And it looks the nuts too. Strengths: Performance, looks, parts availability, fuel economy Weaknesses: Some corrosion in annoying places, yellow Ninja decals on blue paintscheme.

    29 March 2006

  • My first proper bike a 2002 A1P 636cc bought in July, after being on a bandit 6 for a while before.

    Paul636limey

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Good solid yet fast bike. Great fun to ride, loves the corners, especially since I have got rid of the standard michelin tyres and gone for the bridgestones which give a far better feel. Rapid enough for a real blast and still sedate enough at low speed for commuting, town riding, or riding in the wet. Strengths: Loves to be revved - let it breath, grippy now its shod with the bridgestones, reliable and not too costly on servicing. Weaknesses: Paint finish isn't the best, the standard tyres are crap, fairly hard ride, and the colour as my bright green bike is clearly not bright enough as tw#ts still pull out in front of me....

    18 December 2005

  • The best 600!!!

    deanozx

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Bought as a replacement for a GSXR600. Found my J1 twice as good in every department. As standard it is good but spend a few pounds and it becomes a monster. The handling is excellent especially with ohlins all round and bt014`s. Power is weak in the low rev range but a dynojet sorts this out. once past 7000 it really shifts. a lot of work was done to the engine before I bought it. but it is still reliable even with the kawasaki starts. Not met another 600 that can keep up with it. The only drama is the brakes. The rear may well not be there and the front as standard is dire. replace with brembos and braided hoses is a must especially for track days. Strengths: Handling, power, looks. Weaknesses: Standard brakes, have to be very positive with gear changes, servicing costs.

    27 July 2005

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lynxer

lynxersays

2002 ZX636R

Had mine for a year now and have done lots of miles because I ride every day. Weaknesses: carb icing makes it well dodgy when below +5C (Silkolene Pro FST fuel additive sorts it), front brakes mediocre, no fuel gauge and plugs a pig to get at. Strengths: a sweet little bike with great mid range that'll really hustle round the corners and is comfortable enough for very long journeys unlike its successors. Great headlights too. Overall - if you're new to sportsbikes and want something credible but without scary insurance premiums, pick one up with 6000 miles or less for £2500 private. Insure it TPFF and you'll have serious performance for silly money.

03 June 2007 22:26

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