India Kawasaki just recently launched the 2019 Ninja ZX-6R which received a teary-eyed welcome by motorcycle enthusiasts in India. The ZX-6R is sitting in a segment of its own for now where it will enjoy respect from the 'real' riding enthusiasts who have the skill to use all those 125 horses on a racetrack. It isn't the only middle-weight motorcycle in the market today - the evolution of the motorcycle market in India has blessedly seen the onset of bikes above 500cc that aren't cruisers. For e-g, there's the Triumph Street Triple RS, Suzuki GSX-S750, and the ones in Kawasaki's lineup itself.
But there's something – a lot many things actually – about the Ninja ZX-6R which will lure the ones who put speed and the ability to maintain it on corners above everything else. Kawasaki also has the Ninja 650, which in a way has slightly bigger engine capacity, but the addition of the two letters Z & X give the middle-weight Ninja two more cylinders and almost twice the power.
The ZX-6R has been a revered supersport for over two decades now. The first-generation Ninja ZX-6R was introduced in 1995 with design and features similar to its elder sibling, the 1994 ZX-9R including the ram air intake. It did 0-97 km/h in 3.6 seconds. A cool-looking classic sports motorcycle, the 1995 ZX-6R has a design that automatically plays a classic song like Separate Ways - Journey in your head. Well, it does in mine.
It was the 1998 G-series of the ZX-6R which overnight became a threat to 750cc superbikes. Even by today's standards, the 1998 ZX-6R is a cracker with a top speed of over 260 km/h. At the turn of the millennium, Kawasaki updated the ZX-6R with some new parts and in 2002, it was given a beefier 636cc engine. The 2003 model was a turning point for the ZX-6R as it became the most advanced 600 of all time, featuring radial brakes, USD forks, fuel injection, a lap timer, digital clocks in a strong package of a tight chassis and plastics.
Fast forward to 2009, Kawasaki introduced MotoGP tech to the Ninja ZX-6R. The new big piston forks made a huge difference allowing the rider to brake frightening late, keeping the bike stable. With 115 bhp, it was the most powerful 600 10 years ago.
And now, it's 2019. The year which for some reason is experiencing the 2009-2019 10yearchallenge, I mean the same challenge could've been applied to any of the previous years. Sigh, kids these days. So, riding along in the challenge, the ZX-6R can have a two-picture collage of its own 10yearchallenge.
Today the Ninja ZX-6R is powered by a 636cc inline four-cylinder liquid-cooled engine that puts out 125 at 13,500 rpm (134 hp with ram-air) and 70.8 Nm at 11,000 rpm and it gets a traction control with three performance settings. Modes 1 and 2 prioritise forward acceleration and Mode 3 assists on surfaces with low traction
It features Kawasaki's Quick Shifter (KQS) for swifter upshifts, and a slip & assist clutch. Bridgestone’s latest sport tyres Battlax Hypersport S22 are standard equipment and Showa suspension has separate rebound and compression setup that optimises carving corners. What adds to the ZX-6R's flickable handling is race-developed perimeter frame. Braking is covered by dual 310mm petal discs with four-piston callipers and a 220mm petal disc at the rear.
So, the Ninja ZX-6R delivers 13 more horsepower more than the Triumph Street Triple RS's 765cc three-cylinder engine, about 24 more than Ducati Panigale's 937cc engine, and a similar number more than Yamaha MT-09's 847cc engine. At Rs 11.79 lakh (on-road, New Delhi), the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is a steal!