The Kawasaki ZX-6R has been the Japanese manufacturers main supersport offering since it was introduced in 1995. Unlike Honda and Suzuki who have both pulled out of the sector in Europe, Kawasaki have announced an updated version of the ZX-6R for 2019.
The original bike was launched in 1995 and was a serious rival to the Honda CBR600F of the time, but the Kawasaki really hit its stride with the 1998 version. A weight of 176kg and 106bhp added up to a genuine 163mph top speed, rendering the 750cc sector essentially obsolete overnight.
Here’s MCN’s pick of five Kawasaki ZX-6Rs currently available at MCN Bikes for Sale:
2003 Kawasaki ZX-6R
- Weight – 161kg
- Power – 112bhp
- This one - £2,795, 12,500 miles
This version of the ZX-6R uses its capacity advantage (it’s actually 636cc) over the rest of the 600cc pack to generate a beefier mid-range, but it’s still happiest with the engine singing at the top of its range.
The 2003 ZX-6R is still quite track-focused; the suspension is harsh, the front-end is frisky and the turning circle is oil tanker-esque. But if you’re in the market for a supersport you will likely make these comprimises.
2005 Kawasaki ZX-6R
- Weight – 164kg
- Power – 114bhp
- This one - £3,595, 12,488 miles
The 2005 Kawasaki ZX-6R was slightly softer than previous versions. It was still a weapon on the track, but more sophisticated Showa suspension coupled with a stiffer chassis meant a much more accommodating ride.
And it’s a good job, because this was easily the most powerful middleweight of its time, with a genuine 114bhp at the back wheel and a top speed approaching 170mph.
2007 Kawasaki ZX-6R
- Weight – 167kg
- Power – 110bhp
- This one - £4,350, 23,230 miles
If you entered a road-legal 2007 ZX-6R into a club race at the time it wouldn’t have looked out of place. With an engine that screams all the way to a spine-tingling 14,000rpm and the ability to carve around a turn faster than many would dare, it was a real track monster.
The ZX-6R loves to be ridden hard, and most of the fun happens above 9,000rpm. This version dropped its capacity to 599cc, which cost some of the mid-range of the previous model (not that there was much anyway).
2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R
- Weight – 191kg (kerb)
- Power – 115bhp
- This one - £4,799, 13,349 miles
The 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R managed to earn itself 5 stars right across the board in the MCN review at the time. MotoGP derived fork pistons keep the bike stable however late you brake, not that you need to do too much slowing down as the corner speed the ZX-6R can carry is incredible.
The 115bhp engine retains the top-end rush of previous models, but manages an improved mid-range over the previous version. You even get an integrated lap timer in the clocks.
2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R
- Weight – 192kg (kerb)
- Power – 135bhp
- This one - £5,995, 1,700 miles
Kawasaki bumped the capacity of the ZX-6R back up to 636cc in 2013 and this meant a big step up in power and a more useable mid-range over the outgoing model. Power starts to be accessible from as low down in the rev range as 4,000rpm but the fireworks are still reserved from around 10,000rpm onwards.
The standard issue three stage traction control is very good and unobtrusive, even allowing you to hold small power wheelies under acceleration.
Gone are the days of a harsh, compromised ride on the ZX-6R, by 2013 it is a comfortable place to sit thanks to adjustable suspension. A noticeably softer road setting absorbs bumps on the road, but the track setting is just as precise as ever.