Head-to-head: New and old Kawasaki ZX-6R

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I’ve just come in from riding the new 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R against the old 2008 model and I’m flabbergasted.

I won’t give too much away; you’ll have to read all about it in our full road test in the January 7 issue of MCN, but let me whet your appetite.

Its styled to ape the ZX-10R and its proportions are much better balanced than the old bike. The exhaust is moved from under the seat to a conventional side-mounting, which Kawasaki claim improves mid-range power.

Brakes, rear shock and chassis remain largely unchanged but the Big Piston Forks are the big news here. The inner workings of the forks have been simplified, which the Japanese firm claim makes them work smoothly and more accurately than conventional items.

Claimed weight is down a staggering 10kg, although now that Kawasaki are giving kerb weight figures (191kg) for the new bike and had dry weight figures (167kg) for the old one, we’ll just have to take their word. 

It’s such a big step forward from the old ZX-6R that it may as well be made by a different manufacturer. It has a heap more mid-range and lots more power too; the motor spins so fast, you’d swear it doesn’t have a flywheel. Making 115bhp at the rear wheel, it’s the most powerful 600 we’ve ever tested and it feels it too.

It’s roomier than before, has plusher suspension and lighter steering too. It feels like a green Honda CBR600RR, which is a compliment of the highest order and for the first time in years Kawasaki can look forward to battling for top supersport honours in 2009 on road and track.

We’re very excited by the new ZX-6R and with the imminent arrival of a new Honda CBR600RR and Triumph Daytona 675, 2009 is going to the year of the mad, bad 600s again. We can’t wait to pitch them all head-to-head!