After starting to lose some love for my own sports bike, it was time to take another one out to try and reignite my love for them.
It all started with an impromptu test ride, a friend has seen online that there was a Kawasaki Test Ride event going on near to us.
So with nothing better to do, we made our way there to see some bikes.
Walking along towards the lineup of bikes, I shouted out that the ZX10-R was mine before anyone else had chance but as we got closer, we all realised that there wasn’t one there, leaving me with the 2019 Kawasaki ZX6-R, not what I’d planned but I was happy enough with it.
We signed in and were given wrist bands, then we found out it was a track experience not a test ride day, even better! A quick look at the bike, and out we went onto Llandow track in the scorching hot sun
The rules of the track session were;
– No wheelies
– No overtaking
– No showboating
That taken note of, we lined up, had a briefing, then headed out onto the track
It was a little nerve wracking to start, given the fact I was wearing a mesh jacket and bike jeans rather than leathers.
We came back in, filled out a feedback form and took the next bikes we fancied out, but something kept bringing me back to the ZX-6R. It was light, flickable, it felt focused and planted, the S22 tyres filled me with confidence, even if they had now mostly melted away to the sides!
A few days on, I was thinking about how the bike would compare on road to track, so got my test ride booked in for the following weekend..
On first glance, this bike was a little different to the one I had already ridden, first of all I much preferred it in black but the real advantage was it having the Akrapovič slip on, it looked and sounded great.
Walking around the bike there isn’t a particular feature that stands out, it has the typical Kawasaki styling and charm. It looks narrow compared with my 2009 GSXR 750, and definitely feels lot lighter in weight. (196KG Kerb weight)
The seat feels tall, with me struggling to touch more than one toe on the floor when sat on the bike. Although it is actually a pretty average height at 830mm it’s only 20mm taller than my own bike, but that extra 20mm really makes a difference..
The switch-gear was nice to see, nothing over complicated meaning I could get on it and go, without entering a launch sequence and mashing the buttons followed by telling it the safe word like some other new bikes.
-okay that might be a bit of an exaggerated comparison, but you get the idea..
The dash was pretty straight forward, it has enough tech to give you something to adjust and play with, but not too much that you can lose yourself within it.
The clean and clear screen includes all of your usual stuff gear position indicator, a fuel gauge and fuel range. It also displays the power mode you are currently in along side the KTRC (Kawasaki’s 3 level traction control).
It’s easy and clear to see on the go, and still keeps its analogue rev counter, it’s always nice to see the needle fly up and then bounce off the limiter as you’re shifting.
The Nissin 4 piston brakes on this bike are great, they’re sharp and focused, as with most bikes they are radial mounted.
The ZX6R comes as standard with 310mm floating discs, helping to contribute to the competent brakes and great feel at the lever.
Kawasaki have also pinched the light weight rear caliper form the ZX10R and although I didn’t give it much use, I still felt confident using it unlike some other bikes where you feel like it’s pretty much all or nothing.
The 2019 ZX6R comes from factory with Showa “big piston” separate function forks and adjustable shock. Personally, on the road I would have preferred a little softer settings, although it’s very easily done with the adjustment being on the top of the forks.
However, the suspension was perfect on track, it easily tipped in to each bend, it nailed the hairpin and felt so sharp and focused, going exactly where you wanted to, when you wanted to inspiring nothing but confidence.
The S22 tyres did a great job on road and track, with nothing but great grip no matter how hard you accelerated or how late you brake.
They also really give you that level of confidence when approaching a fast bend, never really needing to slow down and doubt whether you’ll make it or not.
My singular negative was when it came to a little rain on the track, with there being a slight loss of traction at some points, which given they they’re neither track tyres or wets, you really can’t fault it.
The Kawasaki quick shifter is delightfully smooth, you can’t help but smile as you pop the lever up and hear the exhaust note from the Akrapovič as you’re flying through the twisties up the mountains.
Although surprisingly the bike does not have an autoblipper (no clutchless downshifts) it doesn’t feel like a draw back in the slightest, I couldn’t say that I felt it needed it or that the bike was lacking anything, but I don’t think I’d have complained if it had one either.
All in all it was a really enjoyable bike to ride, and Kawasaki have really made a great mark on the previously dying 600cc market.
The ZX6R requires a bit of hard work to ride, really having to work the thing to get it to perform at it’s best, and that’s certainly no bad thing with the fun of a 600cc being the fact you have to work it hard.
From £9,499 OTR, it really is priced well, whether it’s your first sportsbike, your track bike, your weekend toy, or something to take on the latest trend for naked bikes.
You really can’t go wrong with this cleverly designed and engineered machine, but unfortunately it was time for me to return to my own trusty steed..
Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment box below..