2024 Kawasaki ZX-6R first ride review: reborn 600 supersport screamer tested on UK roads


  • Return of the full-fat inline-four supersport bike
  • New TFT dash and sharper styling
  • Respectable low and midrange punch

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 115 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Medium (434 lbs / 197 kg)


New £10,599
Used N/A

Overall rating

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

The 600cc(ish) supersport sector used to be one of the most hotly contested segments in motorcycling, with screaming, apex-hunting machines like the Kawasaki ZX-6R fighting it out for supremacy, both on road and track. But thanks to their focussed, single-minded nature, sales dwindled as the average rider grew older. Coupled with with the enforcement of Euro5 (which makes it difficult to build high-revving engines with large valve overlap, which was historically the key to making a competitive 600) the supersport class was as good as dead – or so we thought.

Both Honda’s CBR600RR and Kawasaki’s long-running ZX-6R are returning to UK showrooms in 2024 (both have been on sale in the interim period in other markets with differing emissions standards though), with the Kawasaki being the first to arrive. It’s surprisingly unchanged, given how much stringent the latest standards are: the engine has sacrificed a single bhp at the top end by way of new cams, intake and exhaust headers, which have imbued the 636cc four with more power low down.

There are minor visual changes, with a TFT dash that allows for Bluetooth connectivity replacing the old conventional tacho/LCD info panel, alongside a smart facelift with similarities to both the current ZX-10R and the all-new ZX-4RR too. But it’s little different to the previous version (which was sidelined when EU5 was enforced in 2020), which in turn was a relatively mild evolution of the 2009 ZX-6R. Is there still a place on UK roads for a 636cc screamer?

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R tested for MCN by Carl Stevens

Tastes and opinion may differ, but in reality, it hasn’t really moved the game on, and isn’t likely to persuade former 600 buyers to come back from nakeds, adventure bikes, bigger sportsbikes or wherever they’re getting their kicks now.

Sure, it has a little bit more low-down grunt which is something that we’ve all been screaming for from a supersport machine, yet with no changes to the chassis, suspension or comfort, the 2024 ZX-6R is not measurably better on the road than before.

There is the argument it isn’t made for that; it’s built to go fast on track and everything else follows suit, which is why it it’s still has that unflinching focus that was once its key appeal, but time waits for no bike.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R action shot

It’s still great at the hardcore track bike thing, and isn’t perverted by overbearing electronic controls (it doesn’t even have ride-by-wire throttle, as the CBR600RR now does, which will make for an interesting comparison), but its strengths will only be positive attributes to a minority, while its limitations will remain a barrier to the majority.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Showa BFF-SF fork (Balance Free Fork-Separate Function) are a touch dated compared with the best non-electronic suspension, let alone the cream of semi-active suspension, and the Showa shock at the rear is nothing special either. They’re the same parts as the last UK model, and from experience we’ve no doubts they’ll do a decent enough job on a track.

But their single-minded setup is a pronounced limitation on our winter road test: warm, sunny conditions will help a little, but it’s firmly sprung and damped, and your wrists/spine will take a battering unless you start hitting big speeds and generate the load to get the suspension moving, rather than jarring.

That’s no real surprise, it’s built for aggressive cornering: lots of brakes, trailed deep while maintaining as much apex speed as possible, and getting the motor screaming again exiting the bend.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R fork adjuster

Track riding, again: you might find smooth, quiet stretches where you can really tap into that capability once in a blue moon, but you won’t get the best out of it in the UK very often, and you’d probably appreciate a bike in its performance window at lower speeds much of the time. Again, it’s designed that way so it’s hard to be critical, but it will be a limitation.

It comes on Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV – a welcome change from the obscure, cost-cutting fitments that came on many Japanese 600s. They’re a decent sporty road tyre that’ll handle cooler conditions through to moderate track use, which suits the ZX-6R perfectly.

It’s well-appointed in the braking stakes, too – Nissin radial four-pots don’t look much, but the feel, power modulation and outright stopping are as good as you’ll ever need. There’s a relatively simple ABS system, but the firm forks, decent tyre and good lever feel minimise the amount you’ll call on it.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R front wheel


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

Don’t enjoy thrashing a bike? Then keep walking. The 636cc iterations of the ZX-6R have always offered more response low down than its 599cc rivals, but it’s all relative: a simple 1mm overbore on a ‘true’ 600 doesn’t suddenly make it a torque monster.

The 599cc model is no longer sold, even for racing, with Supersport race regs tweaked with a balancing factor to make the disparate models on offer (the 599cc CBR600RR, the 765cc Triumph Street Triple RS and the 955cc Ducati Panigale V2 as well the Kawasaki).

The ZX-6R’s drive off the bottom is minimal until 4000rpm, where it perks up and gets going, rapidly building engine speed and hitting its prime at 13,000rpm, although the days of 600s head-banging their way to 15,000rpm or more are long gone: the new camshafts, headers and intake slow the top-end rush, and while it will rev out, it doesn’t do so in the same aggressive, addictive manner.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R left side

Yet, it doesn’t feel slow, and scrutinising both our dyno and speed test figures reveals why. It hits a top speed of ‘only’ 144mph (measured on a datalogger) but does so with ease, and more or less hits a brickwall. We’d expect a 600 to clear 150mph, based on the best figures from the class in its prime about 15 years ago.

Our first thought was that it’s now restricted at high rpm, but cross-referencing the dyno chart reveals it has no issue with revving out in sixth, and makes the same power (115bhp at the rear wheel) as it does in the lower gears, suggesting it’s geared unusually low for a production bike. Gearing is shorter than it might have once been: why, only Kawasaki knows (it may help with meeting noise/emissions standards at fixed speed/rpm, or it could just be to maximise enjoyment), but it’s a welcome change.

It’s a touch revvy at cruising speed, but it’ll hold a higher gear than you might imagine, and it’ll suit the UK’s nadgery parkland circuits really well, too. As an experiment, we tried taking off in sixth. It managed it… an astounding, if useless achievement for a 600…

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R engine

Reliability & build quality

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

The TFT screen and new fairing have a modern, quality feel, and the main chassis and running gear is a cut above bikes like the Aprilia RS660, Yamaha R7 and other more budget-friendly middleweight sportsbikes. Even Kawasaki’s own ZX-4RR is built to a lower standard, though it also £2000 cheaper.

Certain components and fittings will appear cheap next to the our favourite mid-class sports machine, the Street Triple 765 RS, which has top-notch finish as well as high-end componentry for not much more cash.

Reliability shouldn’t be an issue, as the engine is 11 years old if you trace it back to the first modern 636, with roots that trace back 15 years, with less propensity for high revs and the stresses that come with pinging a 600 off the rev limiter. We’d expect ZX-6R life to be trouble-free.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ridden on UK roads

Value vs rivals

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

Fuel economy is surprisingly poor – even a wet, cold period during our test that fully curbed our enthusiasm didn’t see mpg rise into the 40s, and any kind of brisk riding saw it plummet to the 32-33mpg mark. That’s something of a surprise, as 600s of old were reasonably efficient if ridden sensibly.

The lightweight ZX-6R with its flat torque delivery should be easier on tyres, chains and brakes than the more popular open-class sportsbikes, unless you get hooked on trackdays, which is a distinct possibly… £10,599 is thoroughly reasonable, sitting neatly between the lower-spec budget middleweights, and the premium-spec middleweight nakeds like the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, Yamaha MT-09 SP.

At the time of writing only the KTM 890 Duke R offered better value (with an identical RRP), but stocks are limited, and there’ll no doubt be a 990 Duke R on the way at a higher price point before long…

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R fairing decal

The price of the 2024 Honda CBR600RR is yet to be announced: the Honda is higher spec with ride-by-wire, IMU electronics and the like. We’re interested to see how that fits in to the disparate options for a sports middleweight in 2024.


3 out of 5 (3/5)

Mid-spec, functional if not exceptional broadly covers the ZX-6R’s spec sheet. The hardware side is a legacy from previous editions, with no change to suspension or brake components (save for brake discs switching from petal-shaped rotors to conventional type).

There’s no Öhlins or Brembo bling, nor does it have super-sophisticated electronics, heated grips or cruise control. It’s a high-performance 600 that gets on with the job of speed: fine for some, although others may feel it’s a little behind the times with little beyond new-for-2024 TFT dash with Bluetooth functionality that really says it’s a bike of 2024.

The accessories list is basic: a road-legal Akrapoviç silencer, pillion seat replacement cowl, crash protectors and an Öhlins steering damper are the most notable. We’d expect a KRT edition to be offered at some point, which will likely include the cowl and silencer as standard for a small premium, as Kawasaki have done with other sports models like the ZX-10R.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R exhaust


Engine size 636cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline-four
Frame type Aluminium beam
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 197kg
Front suspension 41mm Showa BFF-SF USD forks adjustable for, preload rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension Single Showa rear shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs with Nissin four-piston radial calipers
Rear brake 220mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £120
New price £10,599
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 115 bhp
Max torque 50.5 ft-lb
Top speed 144 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 10.98 secs
Tank range 126 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.
  • 2019: A Euro 4-compliant ZX-6R with minor styling changes and a standard quickshifter made a brief return to the UK, before Euro 5 killing it off again at the end of 2020.

Other versions


Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZX-6R (2024 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-6R (2024 - 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 (2024 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5 Its a 5 star Supersport
02 January 2024 by Brad Hollywood

Version: KRT

Year: 2024

Annual servicing cost: £120

It's not often I disagree with MCN, but to give the ZX6R 3 stars is an insult!! It's a 5 star supersport and does a lot more than other bikes at a similar price!! Yes I'm old and passed my test in 1990... then bought a brand new black, grey, purple, and turquoise ZX6R in 1996 and absolutely loved it. I've had naked bikes and adventure bikes and ventured back onto a sporsbike this year, a 60th Anniversary R7, and it was, well, ok... but missing something. Then, I saw the ZX4RR and went to get one from Orwells of Ipswich and walked out with a brand new 2024 ZX6R, and absolutely love it. It's more roomy and comfy than the R7, although that's not saying much!! But what an engine... quick enough for the roads and gearbox is super slick and precise. I may not be as quick or as flexible as I used to be, but you really need to try the ZX6R. It's a bargain.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Bit stiff, not ZXR750J stiff, but a bit. Hopefully, be able to dial it out, but it is a sportsbike, so it's not a wallowing adventure bike..

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth, revvy, gutsy for a superspory, mire power than a 1992 Fireblade and super smooth gearbox.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

4 year warranty and level of finish that puts all the other big Japanese manufacturers to shame.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

A fraction more than an Aprilia RS660, 7 grand cheaper than a thousand. This is a serious bike for not a lot of cash ( used R6 are still advertised at more than this new).

Equipment 4 out of 5

OK so it's not all singing and dancing, but it's enough, rider modes, TFT dash, up quickshifer, abs, TCS. It's enough and let's ypu get on and rude I stead of thinking about how much engine breaking or TC to have, just get on and ride it.

Buying experience: Orwells in Ipswich, best dealer around.

Back to top