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"

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.

Insurance, running costs & value 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

37 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.

Review your KAWASAKI ZZR600 (1990-2007)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.7 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.3 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Super Sport in Sheeps Clothing

04 July 2016 by Robin Gray

The only bad feature is the lack of a gas gauge. All the rest is positive. This bike handles better than my former bike, a Yamaha R6. First gear is perfect for the street, Midrange power is outstanding, Not to mention that beautiful sound it makes.... Read more This is my first Kawi I have owned and wont be the last. I've owned Honda and Yamaha with a short experience with Suzuki. The Kawi rules all. Did I mention the super comfortable seat? I will likely investigate a ZX10R in my future.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Comfort plus and yet still a great track bike. Brakes are amazing!
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Excellent on fuel consumption, even when you are hard on the throttle.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Needs a gas guage
4 out of 5

Excellent highway cruiser with great engine

31 May 2016 by Oncle Stefan

Bought this bike for 2 reasons: first & foremost found a £650 bargain one of late production years, second it was supposed to be a good beginner bike. Clearly a beginner mile-eater, excellent engine with tons of character, sporty but very comfy on... Read more highway. For beginning the riding position is too sporty and it's also too heavy.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Lower on Ride quality for me as a beginner, and I might have made the mistake to keep the Battleax front tire too long (3 years when I bought the bike). Not a reliable tire in the wet when not new! The front limit is a little difficult to feel, but that's probably for a good part due to my lack of experience. Brakes are good, rather racer-sharpish. Addictive top-end rush of the engine is nice to experience on every straight bit, as said excellent on the highway & probably very good in experienced hands.
Engine
5 out of 5
The big + of this bike. Great character, great pull above 6.000, great sound, good fuel consumption.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
For me 4+, I would dare to compare it to BMW on fit & finish of chassis & bodywork. The Bavarians still have to design & build a 600cc with 100 HP that lasts as long. The previous owner did nothing except little bit of oil change, drove in all weather including winter & salt, yet the machine was far from wrecked once cleaned, serviced & polished.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Servicing is normal, resale value is low, but fuel consumption is good & there are plenty of spares at good price, so give it my thumbs up.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Clock, precise fuel gauge, very good mirrors. Excellent seat, just the sitting position which is sporty compact & leaned forward, so not so great at lower speeds. Good wind & weather protection.
Buying experience

Bought privately from 3d owner @ 33 000 km, sold @ 35 000 to buy a real beginner's bike, Honda Hornet.

4 out of 5

Brilliant do anything bike with loads of character

28 February 2016 by PDBD

Fantastic all-rounder. Is everything you need, is great fun to ride and would definitely recommend it to a friend. Would have kept it longer than the 7 years I had it if it wasn't involved in a prang and became a CAT D write-off. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The seat is very comfortable. Faring with double bubble after-market screen provided excellent wind protection. I installed handlebar risers for a slightly more upright seating position for touring. Updated rear shock to Hagon which improved the handling, although to be fair the cornering was never fantastic! Front brakes were okay but never felt great. Installed Nissan calipers and braided hoses to the front which helped.
Engine
5 out of 5
Bulletproof motor never missed a beat. Fantastic acceleration after £7k rpm and huge grin inspiring howl from the ram air intakes, and yet a doddle to handle on the daily commute. Can sit at motorway speeds all day.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Had the bike for 7 years and the only breakdown I had was a flat battery when the stator packed up. I also replaced the exhaust with a stainless steel one shortly after purchasing the bike due to corrosion. Had to replace the front discs which had warped at 19k but to be fair that may be more due to poor care and maintenance through a bad winter. The bike generally needed plenty of TLC through the winter and I replaced most nuts and screws with stainless steel ones.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Bike is simple enough for a novice to do basic maintenance and servicing. I spent quite a bit on the bike but these costs were generally on improvements rather than maintenance - only because it was such a pleasure to ride!
Equipment
4 out of 5
Good (old fashioned) analogue clocks, fuel gauge, trip meter and clock. Everything you need. Need storage box in fairing and the bungee hooks were fantastic for touring
Buying experience

Bought privately for £2k in 2008 - has kept its value so you can't loose. MCN described this bike as a future classic so go and get one

5 out of 5

Great quick all rounder

17 October 2015 by jsmithy

Being 6' 6” tall my choice of fully-faired sub-750cc bikes is limited but a few work such as the RF600 (to some extent), the VFR750 and now my ZZR. It is a very comfortable bike to ride and my knees don't bash the fairing. It also makes a... Read more surprisingly composed city bike. The party starts at 8000rpm when the engine goes into a sort of a mental mode powering you to silly speeds (I was doing 69mph officer, honest). The delivery is quite linear but incredibly powerful and stable. This thing was built to go fast and it does it well. Yes, yes modern 600s will whoop it's arse but who needs more than 100 horses on British roads really? To those people who claim a 200 mile tank range – how? Mine barely does 130 to a tank. Having said that mine s a bit lumpy below 4000rpm which indicates it needs a bit of tweaking but even so I can't see how a 200 mile tank range is achievable on this bike without riding it like my Grandad (RIP) used to drive his Austin Maestro. To summarise, I love it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The brakes perform well and it is very comfy. I've given it a 4 only because there is always room for improvement.
Engine
4 out of 5
The power delivery is very satisfying. The gearbox is a bit of a clunker though.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Compare it to a Honda and you'll notice the difference in build quality but in isolation it is a very solid and well put together machine. I replaced the exhaust myself recently and did come across some seized screws on the fairing mounts so take care with it. No reliability issues as yet.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
It is a conventional machine so I expect typical service costs for a sports 600.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Clock, bungee hooks and good storage. The fuel gauge is nice but useless. It's either full to the brim or empty and not a lot goes on in between. Best to reset the trip meter when you fill up.
Buying experience

I bought mine from a dealer and no problems to report other than a speedo drive fault which was fixed under warranty.

4 out of 5

ZZR 600 1991, still a great sport tourer!

03 October 2015 by Michele

Best bike for the best price. Comfortable, practical, and with good performances, on par with current basic 600 cc bikes like CBF and XJ6. You can pick them for €1000 and you get a great 4-cylinder commuter with sporty ambitions, albeit outdated,... Read more to travel or have some fun. Like VFR, but MUCH cheaper.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Extremely stable at high speed. Not a lightweight but not too heavy, despite the age (low gravity centre). Pleasant on tight corners too, but you have to be smooth - soft fork is a problem when braking. Suspensions are extremely soft- don't ride in grand-prix style or the bike stability will suffer. Brakes are good but they have the tendency to have stuck pistons in the winter. Upgrades on fork, shock and brakes will improve the "aggressive" ride for sure.
Engine
4 out of 5
Still surprisingly powerful for a 1990 engine. Starts promptly and runs smooth after few seconds. Extremely smooth and sweet from 1500 to 8000, but also very weak. You have sometime to downshift twice. From 8000 it suddenly kicks in and starts to be very powerful and fast. Gearshift is bad, the worst part of the bike. 1st and 2nd are clunky, they need to be treated well (don't rev too much during change, always properly lubed chain), or you will end in a faulty gearbox. Treat it well and it will last forever. Other gears are hard to operate with city traffic, decent on open roads but you need some throttle skills to make them smoother.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Build quality is surprising. Paint is still perfect and shining, fairing plastic is still flexible. Some screws and bolts are a bit rough and have a white oxydized patina, but no rust. The grey paint on rims and frame looks more fragile though. Dashboard plastic (glove box lid etc) turns to grey with the age, i have repainted them in matte black. But hey, it's 24 years old. In some cases the bike is finished better than some new bikes!
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Being a 24-years old bike, it requests some operations now and then. The only major problem was the alternator (€100). Everything else is normal maintenance (oil, carbs, spark plugs, some electrical details etc). Don't mistreat the gearbox between 1st and 2nd gear.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Comfortable windscreen and fairings, glove box, and retractable hooks on the sides, center stand. Still practical and comfortable today for long travels. It lacks a fuel indicator (just two flashing lights) and seat key lock, mounted since 1993. The seat on my version is fixed with two bolts. Not a big problem - bring an Allen key with you (keep it in the glove box) and the seat is off in 30 seconds.
Buying experience

Bought from a private.

5 out of 5

A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

11 September 2015 by Imcrazyquick

Purchased new in 2004 and runs like new @ 40K miles. This is a fast bike that doesn't compromise on comfort. It won't wear you out on long rides. It has great wind protection and it is stable at high speeds or on wet roads. I love the cockpit layout.... Read more The center stand comes in handy for regular maintenance. Bulletproof engine, smooth gearbox, and commuter friendly. I've owned and ridden many motorcycles and the 2004 Kawasaki ZZR600 has to be one of my all time favorites. . .

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
It could use a better back brake. It isn't horrible but I've seen better.
Engine
5 out of 5
For a 600cc engine the ZZR has loads of power. It is quick off the line and very responsive at high speeds. Many guys I ride with comment on how quick it is and I usually get much better fuel economy than them averaging 50 - 55 MPG.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Never an issue or problem with anything.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Only money spent has been for regular maintenance, gas, oil changes, and tires.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Love the analogue gauges and I use the retractable luggage clips all the time. The centre stand is also handy for chain adjustments and regular maintenance.
Buying experience

I bought the bike new in 2004 and the price out the door was a bit over $7500.

5 out of 5

14 May 2015 by James

Top marks! Read more

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
-
Buying experience

I brought the zzr in 2000, from a dealer for £3700 and I have never regretted buying it and it still working perfectly 15 years later.

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.

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.

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.

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 37 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1990
Year discontinued 2007
Original price -
Used price £800 to £3,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £60
Annual service cost £100
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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