KAWASAKI ZX-6R (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • One of the last of the 600 class
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Top-notch trackday bike

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Power: 128 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Medium (432 lbs / 196 kg)

Prices

New £9,499
Used £7,700 - £9,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

With the Kawasaki ZX-6R, we're extremely pleased that the firm is helping to keep the 600 class going, but apart from its styling, detail touches and gearing, it's not too different to the old model.

That's no bad thing because few machines let you dance through corners so easily, or rev with such unbridled ferocity. Add in its top-notch chassis parts, electronics and a classy finish and it seems impossibly good value.

A supersport bike like this ZX6R is brilliant on the right day when you're feeling it, but it's too cramped, revvy and uncompromising when you're not, which, unfortunately, will still drive most sportsbike fans elsewhere.

There's a thriving community out there for Kawasaki owners. Check out Club Kawasaki for more.

Cornering on the Kawasaki ZX-6R

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As you’d expect, the 2019 ZX6R isn't a whole lot different to the previous model to ride, but the shorter gearing makes all the difference, taking the peakiness out of the power delivery.

A 600 with instant power may sound perfect, but for normal riding this new gearing isn't exactly relaxing. In top it does around 10mph for every 1000rpm, so 70mph on a motorway it’s yelling its head off at 7000rpm, like an insomniac baby.

It's a shame Kawasaki haven't tried to lure us back to joys of a 600 with their new race replica. The perception has always been that supersports bikes are cramped, frantic little things, which is why, as we've got older and creakier, we've left them behind.

But the new ZX6R is still a cramped, frantic, tiny little thing with a seriously low screen.

Gearing aside, the engine itself is actually smooth, as is its throttle response. Mirrors are clear, the new clocks easy to read and despite its diminutive dimensions, once you're locked in the Kawasaki isn't particularly unkind on your backside or legs.

Keeping the 636cc motor spinning to the 16,000rpm red line will test of your mechanical sympathy, but it's addictive. The new quickshifter makes for virtually seamless gearchanges on the way up, but it highlights a lack of autoblipper for the way back down again.

An over the shoulder view of the Kawasaki ZX-6R

Light, accurate steering

The Kawasaki is full of drama and gives a satisfying impression of speed, but for those coming from a 1000 it will feel flat at the top, but 600s are all about maintaining momentum and it does that beautifully with such a superb mix of friendly power and talkative chassis. 

Steering is light, accurate, but never nervous and new Showa Separate Function Big Piston Forks offer a compliant ride in all conditions, with a hint of firmness for the times you're able to bury the front on the brakes and whip into corners.

It wouldn't need too much tweaking for the track, the same goes for the rear, but at the US launch Kawasaki added an 8.5mm spacer to the shock mount to speed up the steering for the track. Strangely there was no European launch, which says a lot about how many Kawasaki expect to sell over here.

Furthermore, you can read our review of the Kawasaki ZX-6R on Bridgestone S22 tyres.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Powered by the same 636cc motor as the previous 2013 model, the 2019 machine has been tweaked to meet Euro 4 regs (and lost 1bhp), including a new exhaust, mapping tweaks and shorter gearing. The front sprocket is one tooth smaller (15/43 overall).

The exhaust on the 2019-on Kawasaki ZX-6R

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Kawasaki's engines are bombproof, whether they've been used on the road or track. There are no major issues with the previous model, so don’t expect any dramas here. Our single owners' review for the Kawasaki ZX-6R shows a positive opinion of the bike.

Riding the Kawasaki ZX-6R on track

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At the time of release the 2019 Kawasaki ZX-6R cost less than ten grand, which is a lot of supersport bike for the money and a massive £2000 less than the Yamaha R6.

Watch: Dan Sutherland goes racing on the Kawasaki ZX6R

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The ZX-6R gets a new quickshifter for 2019 (but no autoblipper), full LED lighting, revised bodywork and a lower screen, new fully adjustable Showa suspension, an adjustable span clutch lever, new clocks featuring a fuel gauge and reserve countdown and Bridgestone S22 sports tyres.

As before it also has two riding modes, traction control, ABS, assist and slipper clutch, Nissin radial calipers and petal discs.

Specs

Engine size 636cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v inline four
Frame type Ali twin spar
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 196kg
Front suspension 43mm Showa forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Showa shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm wave discs with four-piston radial Nissin calipers. ABS
Rear brake 220mm rear disc with single-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 120/70x17
Rear tyre size 180/55x17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 50 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £150
New price £9,499
Used price £7,700 - £9,500
Insurance group 15 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 128 bhp
Max torque 52 ft-lb
Top speed 160 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 187 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2003: New generation ZX-6R B1H launched with radial brakes and upside down forks. It was the raciest of its supersport rivals in the golden age of the 600. A 599cc ZX-6RR version was available for racing, too.
  • 2005: New rounder bodywork, slipper clutch, calipers, master cylinder, plusher suspension and underseat exhaust are added. Again, a ZX-6RR version is available.
  • 2007: Sharper styling, capacity reduced from 636cc to 599cc and host of detail changes made.
  • 2009: New styling, side mounted exhaust, Showa Big Piston Forks, more midrange and 10kg of weight reduction.
  • 2013: Capacity is added back up to 636cc (and no 599cc ZX-6RR version), power modes, traction control, optional ABS, revised suspension and styling.

Other versions

There are no other versions of this model.

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZX-6R (2019 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-6R (2019 - on) 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 ZX-6R (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
5 out of 5 Loving my Ninja 636 ABS
07 June 2020 by DB

Version: ABS

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £160

Having ridden GSXR 600 since passing my test and then renewing my biking interest 4 yrs ago with a jixxer again I decided to upgrade Mar 19 as I needed more tech for a Daily commute of 28 miles in all weathers. Settled on the Ninja 636 as it looked stunning in black and the price and spec were perfect. I am 6 ft and despite some neg comments from some reviews the ride is, for me, perfect. So much so, we spent 2 weeks touring Germany last Summer and survived Hurricane winds (remember the Dover chaos) 2-3 inches of water during rain storms and 40 degree heat. The bike never missed a beat and kept me upright for over 4000 miles.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

For a tall guy it is surprisingly comfortable and I can travel from refill to refill with no issues as it's a riding position I am used to. The Suzuki allowed for some footpeg adjustment but the Ninja just feels right for me from the off. The brakes are good and responsive and worked extremely efficiently the only time I have needed to use them.

Engine 4 out of 5

The power band is substantial across the revs and gears so no issues there. If I had one critisism it would be the noise. She can scream a bit if I have forgotten ear plugs but thats the nature of a 600 supersport.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

As mentioned previously, rock solid reliability and 12000 miles on my rear tyre so far is amazing considering I got 8k on the suzuki. The trims are not the best and some can rattle but sticky foam pads have cured all vibrations.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Main dealers tend to charge a lot however if you, if you get to know them they will look after you. I booked a safety check before I travelled to Germany and it cost £40. They spotted an odd wear pattern in the front tyre and sorted it for me.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The quick shift is my favorite bit of kit on the ninja. With revs on, it is smooth, crisp and great to have when a 3 series pulls along side and then you disappear. But why oh why is a usb socket not standard on a modern Bike? The Ninja has a lead behind the right headlamp to wire in a kit but it difficult to get to and the OE kit is quite expensive for what it is.

Buying experience: Bought from main dealer and the experience was pretty standard. The bike was sub 10k and that is 2k less than the Y6. Got a great deal on the p/x as well.

4 out of 5 Mr
19 August 2019 by NEIL HACKER

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £145

Brilliant value for money bike with a really involving ride and big bike feel

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The brakes are exceptional especially considering it runs rubber hoses. The engine is very eager and the handling is very instinctive.

Engine 5 out of 5

It feels more powerful than 636cc. More like a GSXR 750 L2

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

A good quality feeling bike, nice finishing touches usually absent on Japanese sports bikes.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I have been told my bike requires and annual service. I don't think this is correct.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Dash is not that exciting, although rather be looking ahead anyway.

Buying experience: I got a really good deal, however, i do expect the price to fall even lower at the end of the year. All in all a great value bike.

4 out of 5 Mr
03 August 2019 by NEIL HACKER

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £145

It is quite a 'raw' feeling bike, seems to be more focused that my Daytona 675. I have just had the first service done so will be exploring the performance a little more now. I am not a huge fan of the new gearing so far, although this might change as i start to use the motorcycles full potential.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It turns and handles really well. The brakes are very strong too, especially when you take into account they are running rubber hoses. They are much stronger than the brakes on my Daytona which was running braided hoses. There is more feel too.

Engine 4 out of 5

Still yet to tap into its full potential.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Still early days (and miles), i cannot see to much going wrong with it!

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

The first service was a little steep, i was told i need an annual service or 3500 miles, not sure if this is correct.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The OE S22 tyres are really confidence inspiring and with the handling it is a very competitive package.

Buying experience: I got a really good deal from LLoyd Cooper in Watford. i did not do a huge amount of looking around although i expect the buying price to drop by the end of the year.

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