KAWASAKI ZZR600 (1990-2007) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Overlooked by many but those who've ridden them know how good they can be"

Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding

"Overlooked by many but those who've ridden them know how good they can be"

  • At a glance
  • 599cc  -  99 bhp
  • 45 mpg  -  178 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Overlooked by many but those who’ve ridden them know how good they can be. The Kawasaki ZZ-R600 is an unlikely nutter bike but, on speed alone, it’s up there in the upper echelons of  the “bikes that can get you nicked in second gear” category. Roomy and comfortable, the Kawasaki ZZ-R600 is practical, too, and you can pick them up for a song.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZZ-R600 seat’s soft and plush but so, alas, is the suspension. Great brakes but the forks dive easily and the rear shock’s not brilliant either. It’s not dreadful but you notice it if you’re pushing hard. Otherwise, the Kawasaki ZZ-R600 is smooth and stable, even at high speeds. The gears can get clunky if you don’t tighten the chain very regularly.

Engine 4 out of 5

A surprise, to say the least. The Kawasaki ZZ-R600 looks so docile by today’s standards yet twist the throttle and a ridiculous surge of power carries you up to the 14,000rpm redline in no time. The Kawasaki ZZ-R600 engine is reliable, grunty enough low down and positively mental at anything above about 4000rpm. Bloody hilarious!

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Cush drive wear, corrosion of downpipes and sagginess of old suspension are the most common complaints from Kawasaki ZZ-R600 owners but, overall, the bike’s a tough one. The engine’s excellent and it’s common to see Kawasaki ZZ-R600s knock up some vast mileages. Generally, build quality is good but many Kawasaki ZZ-R600s get ridden throughout winter so older models can look a bit scruffy.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Suffering from a slight image problem (riders overlook them in favour of more track-orientated machinery), you can pick up both new and used Kawasaki ZZ-R600s for some excellent prices, if you shop around (and haggle: list price is slightly steep). Insurance on a Kawasaki ZZ-R600 isn’t bad and the fuel consumption’s a plus: take it (relatively) easy and you’ll see over 200 miles out of a tank. Find a Kawasaki ZZ-R600 for sale.

Insurance group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZZ-R600's vast fairing houses a good dash with analogue revs and speedo, digital clock, plus temperature and fuel gauges. There’s a little, lockable glove box too. The Kawasaki ZZ-R600's screen works well and useful bungee hooks make for easy touring. There’s a centrestand but be careful: it grounds out easily, especially two up.

Owners' Reviews

30 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZZR600 (1990-2007) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.7 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Perfect

05 November 2013 by Anonymous

Bought my ZZR in June this year, a E7 model with 15137 miles on the clock now has 26594. Really really like this bike. A great engine that goes like the proverbial at 8K revs. All day comfort, 842 miles was the longest I rode in one day, only reason... Read more I stopped was we were at our destination. Wife finds the pillion seat very comfortable. The brakes have been upgraded with braided lines and Carbon Lorraine pads, may upgrade to Nissin callipers next year, a double bubble screen, rear hugger, fender extenda Tutoro automatic oiler, 12V power socket and stainless down pipes are the only other mods. The rear shock is now goosed, Hagon replacement rear shock on order £300 other than that everything good. Things I like All day comfort Mental engine Centre stand Weather protection The looks Twin silencers, give it a nice symmetrical look Bungee hooks everywhere A decent pillion seat Comprehensive dash Fuel economy, 200 miles to a tank Cruises at 80+ 2 up all day long Overall handling Cost to buy Insurance costs, mind you I'm over 40 Things I don't like The front end is a tad soft when pushed The rear shock isn't the best The brakes need to be carefully maintained and upgraded Very dependent on good chain tensioning for smooth gear changes The servicing schedule could be a bit more in keeping with the sports tourer niche it has occupied since the ZX6R was launched, would gladly sacrifice some top end power for this. To sum up a fast and thus far very reliable sport tourer that has all day comfort with very economical running costs. As good 2 up as it is solo, with a completely bonkers engine, when you want it to be. Love the bike so much I am going to strip her down and completely restore her over the winter, never done this with a disposable Japanese bike before.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Under rated 600

08 June 2013 by Edmund1990

Great bike, restricted will easily cruise at 80, max around 110, easily enough for a new rider, main difference is how quickly you get there. Unrestricted performs as well as any modern 600, the competition is more about your skill as a rider.... Read more Handles and grips the road well, had no trouble here. Can pick one up for a great price. Starts every time, no trouble in coldest days in winter, just needs a bit of choke and check the tires aren't too cold and slippery. Bike is very fun when you get up into the power band, around 7k - 13k rpm, which i find the bike needs now and again to keep her running smooth, and it sounds and feels great too. Dash clock is a neat feature, as well as the disc lock compartment. Great for commuting as very comfortable, can also imagine being great for a long trip or tour. But don't let this fool you into thinking it's a standard touring bike, the class sports-tourer fits it perfectly. Good first bike, although I would always suggest starting on something less mental in the power band first.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great motorcycle

07 June 2013 by Anonymous

I have had my zzr600 95 model now for about three months and i like it a lot it. I have driven it about 4000km so far. No mechanical problems so far, I have just lubed the chain and brake/clutch leavers and filled the tank. What i like: I find... Read more the ergonomics of the bike really good. The knee angle is good. And all levers and buttons are well placed. Its low and not too wide so it is easy to place both feet on the ground (I am 182cm tall, think i could still do easily it if i were 160cm) The suspension is soft enough to be comfy on normal road with potholes and the like, but not so soft it becomes an issue when driving fast. The engine is totally smooth in its power delivery and above 7-8000rpm it goes mental. Its cheap, both to buy, insure and run. It does not use much fuel. I get about 5l/100km. What i do not like: The front brakes. Its a kind of spongy feel to the brake lever, even though the bakes are in top condition and are properly bleed. They do work just fine, and will stop the bike with my brain wanting to escape trough my eye sockets. But to do this re lever require a bit to much force for my liking, and the lack that crisp feeling. All in all I really love my ZZR and I plan to keep her for a while.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

zzr600 1993

03 October 2012 by brownylad1312

ive owned my zzr now for 2 months and i have to say a great bike. i had a gsxr 400 before this and i have to say i enjoy the kwak more. bin round scotland on it, kept up with the supersports no problem on it and it never missed a beat. would make a... Read more great first bike.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

brilliant even restricted

07 July 2012 by johnlad1

ive just got a 1990 zzr 600 with a 33bhp restricter and ive got to say as my first big bike i can fault it even restricted the engine has enough poke to easily get you grinning from ear to ear, the breaks all tho they may be found lacking by more... Read more expereinced riders are plenty for a novice. its a bit on the heavy side but because its so low down this isnt realy an issue most people will be able to get there feet flat on the floor and one its moving you wont realy notice. well worth a look can pick them up in ok condition for around a grand.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Superb machine

26 June 2012 by Anonymous

As some idiot trashed my beloved FZ6 Fazer I needed a new bike. I got an '06 ZZR600 E6F. Wow! Just Wow! Handles like a dream, has superb balance and the engine is magnificent. On 100 mile motorway trip it was *cruising* at speeds the Fazer was racing... Read more at. Round the lanes it stuck to the road like glue. The low end is smooth enough to commute, the top end grunty enough to fly and the mid-range is just everything in between ;). I was looking at one of these or a Thundercat and I am so glad I went with my instinct and got this. Apart from my mate's ZZR1100 this tops every bike I've ridden and as I'm doing a lot of shorter range riding on this it suits me much more than the 1100. Amazing bike, love it.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great Bike!!!

10 June 2012 by Skinbeatersam

This is my second bike, and ever since knowing about these, I coveted one. So pleased with my 2002 ZZR600!! It really does have a mental engine, although I find you have to rev it past 5-6k for it's manic side to come out. It is comfortable and... Read more at 6ft2in I was surprised that I don't feel at all cramped on the comfortable seat. Faring gives good protection from the elements. The bike is also well equipped with a fuel gauge, center stand, little glove compartment as well as alright underseat storage. There are also things that show that Kawasaki have the rider in mind, such as the little windows in the bike that let you check rear brake fluid and coolant without having to take the seat off or remove the fuel tank, making maintenance easier. The double exhaust gives you good road presence too ensuring that dozy drivers will at least 'feel' you if they don't bother to try to see you. Great engine noise too!! It has plenty of poke too, although it doesn't feel like it as it is very very smooth to ride, so you don't often realise how quick it is. No problem though cos the handling is confidence inspiring. Feels like a CBR600F!! Great bike!! Get one!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

WOW!!! WHAT A BIKE

05 November 2011 by djduracell

Where do i start? passed DAS a few months ago, bought a 1993 zzr600, cant compare it to any other 600cc bikes due to being 1st big bike but for the money you get alot of bike, done a 500 mile tour to skye and what a great bike it was, handling and... Read more power was fantastic, after 500 miles i wasnt to sore with the ride position, i would defo buy another one..

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

What a little animal!

16 October 2011 by oba54

I bought my 04 ZZR 600 2 years ago. Having been away from biking for 10 years I wanted nothing bigger than a 600 (lack of confidence), but wow what a great bike. The first time a took it for a run on the motorway I expected an average preformance but... Read more to my surprise it preformed like a it was bulit for the race track. Smooth and powerful overtaking with ease and instilling a huge amount of confidence. I've had no mechanical issues despite riding it through 2 winters. Some say its a good first bike but I think even an experienced biker wouldn't get bored of this little gem.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

1998/1999 Cat C rebuild

03 July 2011 by Foxyrobin

Having owned a Kawasaki GT550 1992 for many years, i decided to buy another bike which was more modern and watercooled.I tok my freind's ZZr600 ( m reg) for an Mot and found it quite comfortable to ride( im 5ft7). So i looked into buying a ZZr600.... Read more Orginally i bought a 1998 Cat C ZZr600 off Ebay. The bike had very little damage to it only needing the clutch cable and silencer replacing to pass an mot. BUT i found owning a CAT C was a problem to insure. You cant uses any online qoutes, some places wont insure them and others will charge at least double the premium and there is no guarentee youll get paid in the event of a claim....Anyway so i decided to buy another one and use the CAT C for parts.The CAT C cost me £700,1999 Frame and logbook cost me £220 and then my time dismantling and rebuilding. The diffrence in insurance cost was halfed.. my premium is £74 3rd party F+T... cheaper than the GT550 i had!!. Another thing i did was to replace the front calipers with RVF400/CBR900 ones, which dramatically improoved the dodgy braking i had. Now i can lock the front wheel if i apply too hard!. Ive recently done a 274 mile trip and the bike ran fine. Handling is a bit naff, part due to suspension, but mainly the tyres Soft bridgestone on the rear(previous owner), which when powering out of the apex slides and Mitchellin Madcam?? on the front which runs noisey when cold an handles like your on black ice in the wet(sh#t tyre- but mot/road legal). I will save up and replace the tyres, most lightly Pirelli's

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 30 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1990
Year discontinued 2007
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £58
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 99 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Top speed 154 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Tank range 178 miles
Specification
Engine size 599cc
Engine type 16v inline four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 182kg
Front suspension 46mm Cartridge fully adjustable
Rear suspension Preload and rebound
Front brake Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 200mm disc
Front tyre size 120/60 x 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1990: Kawasaki ZZ-R600 first launched and marketed in the “supersports” category (which was very apt at the time).
1993: Kawasaki ZZ-R600 got a major overhaul. New chassis and fairing, some engine modifications, a redesigned dash and new silencers.
1995: Kawasaki ZZ-R600's suspension was uprated with rebound and preload adjustment.
1996: Kawasaki ZZ-R600 got a digital clock.
1998: An alarm and immobiliser were fitted to the Kawasaki ZZ-R600 as standard. No changes since.

Other versions

None

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R600 motorcycle review - Riding
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