As you’d expect the 2019 ZX-6R 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 hasn'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.
'A screen so low even Pedrosa would struggle to tuck in behind' - MCN Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves
But the new ZX-6R is still a cramped, frantic, tiny little thing with a screen so low even Pedrosa would struggle to tuck in behind.
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.
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, we’ve also ridden the Kawasaki ZX-6R on Bridgestone S22 tyres.
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).
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.
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.
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.