2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R and ZX-6R ABS
The new 2013 Ninja® ZX™-6R marks the return of a middleweight sportbike legend, three numbers that strike fear into the heart of the competition: six…three…six.
It is a tradition born of street cred and racetrack domination, a performance boost offered at the same price as the competition’s regular six hundreds, and it’s a machine that screams Performance Counts! The new ZX-6R honors a dominating family tradition – started ten years ago with the first 636, a revolutionary machine that blew-away the competition’s 600’s on the street and won races against factory 750’s on the track.
That category shattering DNA begins with a new 16-valve, long-stroke DOHC 636cc inline-four that’s everything a top-shelf middleweight powerplant should be: torque rich, happy to rev, supremely powerful and smooth enough for everyday use. Its impressive broad-spectrum performance is ideal for everyone from stunters and street riders, to canyon carvers and racetrack junkies.
It all starts with that new 636cc long-stroke engine, that 37cc displacement increase makes a significant impact on real world riding. Increased performance throughout the rpm range is always welcome when racing or sport riding, but increased low- and mid-range torque also significantly enhances everyday usability. Thanks to this engine’s larger displacement, performance is boosted throughout the entire powerband. Low-mid range torque is significantly stronger and the engine’s total “area under the power curve” grows substantially when compared to the previous 600cc model.
New intake and exhaust port shapes were optimized to suit the extra displacement and help deliver increased performance and improved throttle response. The intake ports are wider near the throttle bodies and now split further upstream from the intake valves. The exhaust ports are wider near the valves and taper on their way to the new exhaust header. New lightweight chromoly steel intake and exhaust camshafts feature increased intake duration, plus increased intake and exhaust lift to compliment the new engine’s extra displacement. Revised piston crowns increase piston strength and accommodate the increased valve lift. A molybdenum coating on the piston skirts fights friction and helps with engine break-in. New straight piston pins are more rigid to help preserve high-rpm durability. New 1.5mm shorter connecting rods are also stronger to suit the increased kinetic energy of the longer-stroke, their stems are now 2mm thicker and the small ends feature a 1mm larger-radius to add even more strength.
A new larger airbox features 12.5% more internal volume and contributes to both increased power and a smoother power delivery. New longer single-bore intake funnels contribute to low-mid range torque and feature unique designs for the inner and outer cylinder pairs to help enhance the engine’s character. Ultra-fine atomizing injectors deliver a sub-60 micron fuel droplet size, for more effective air-fuel mixing and maximum combustion efficiency. Those new injectors are also capable of delivering a greater total volume of fuel to accommodate the demands of the larger engine. More precise digital fuel injection (DFI®) tuning also enhances throttle response and contributes to reduced emissions.
The result is that this new engine not only delivers class-leading drive out of corners, it also offers superior flexibility and precise throttle control that pays big dividends when making mid-corner power adjustments or stringing a set of curves together on a racetrack or twisting backroad.
All that power is delivered through a new high-tech F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions. It allows quick, effortless downshifts when scrubbing-off speed for a corner and helps minimize rear wheel hop caused by excess back-torque. The new F.C.C. design uses two types of cams, an assist cam and a slipper cam that were developed based on racetrack testing and rider feedback. The “assist” cam acts like a servo mechanism to pull the clutch hub and operating plate together and compress the clutch plates under load. This allows the total clutch spring count and tension to be reduced, resulting in a 20% overall reduction in effort at the clutch lever. The assist cam also increases the clutch’s maximum torque capacity, to help it cope with the extra power from the new 636cc engine, without gaining any weight. Whenever back-torque is present, the clutch’s “slipper” cam reduces clamping force on the hub and operating plate to help prevent rear wheel hop on trailing-throttle and when down-shifting. A new spring plate assembly offers smoother engagement and helps minimize vibration and clutch judder, and a new aluminum clutch hub is 600-grams lighter than the previous steel unit.
In keeping with its racing DNA, the ZX-6R also employs a cassette-type transmission to simplify gearing changes at the track, help reduce the time needed for bike setup and allow more time for riding. A new shorter first gear, stronger alloys and revised gear thicknesses boost gearbox durability and help it cope with the extra torque produced by the new 636cc engine.
The Ninja ZX-6R features the newest sportbike and racetrack technology offered by Kawasaki. Its three-mode KTRC traction control system is similar to the KTRC unit found on the flagship Ninja ZX-14R, and features even more advanced programming than the S-KTRC system used on the ZX-10R superbike! And its new selectable power modes offer increased tuning options and more flexibility compared to its middleweight competition.
“Full” or “Low” engine power modes can be selected by a switch on the left clip-on. The new power modes allow riders to adjust the engine’s power delivery to help suit road conditions or their personal preference. Full mode offers the full range of the engine’s performance potential. Low mode offers the same low-rpm power output, but begins to limit power as the rpm rises into the midrange and will only offer up to 80% of the engine’s maximum power. Low mode also delivers a softer throttle response which is handy when conditions are slippery or the rider wants to relax.
The KTRC traction control system on the new Ninja ZX-6R combines the best elements of the S-KTRC and KTRC traction control systems on Kawasaki’s two flagship sportbikes. Three different KTRC modes are selectable via a switch on the left clip-on. Mode 1 offers maximum racetrack performance, mode 2 offers sporty street performance, and mode 3 is tuned to help eliminate wheelspin and reduce rider anxiety on slippery surfaces. Riders may also elect to turn the system completely off.
KTRC Modes 1 and 2 both prioritize maximum forward acceleration –like the S-KTRC system on a ZX-10R superbike– by using complex analysis to predict when available traction is about to be compromised, and then intervening before slippage exceeds the optimum acceleration range. This minimizes how much power must be reduced to improve or restore rear wheel traction and helps to provide maximum forward drive. Operating parameters are monitored and confirmed 200 times per second, and the system only uses ignition timing to regulate the engine’s power output, allowing extremely quick response. KTRC Mode 3 features similar tuning to a Concours™14 ABS sport tourer’s traction control system. During normal operation, it uses the same logic and control method as Modes 1-and-2, but immediately switches to three-way intervention –using ignition timing, fuel delivery, and the intake tract’s sub-throttles– if excessive rear wheel spin is detected. This allows Mode 3 to reduce engine output all the way down to a level that will allow the rear wheel to regain grip, even on very slippery surfaces. The fine control provided by the sub-throttles also results in a very natural feeling and smooth on/off transitions to help maintain traction even during extended operation in unfavorable conditions. This highly effective system uses minimal hardware paired with very advanced software programming. The only additional hardware required by the KTRC system is a set of front and rear wheel-speed sensors, yet the overall effects of Modes 1, 2 and 3 are easy to distinguish from each other and effectively cover a wide range of riding conditions.
Combining the KTRC and Power Mode options, riders have a total of eight combinations from which to choose, and each system can be independently set to match rider skill/preference, riding location and surface conditions. An experienced rider on dry pavement might choose “Full Power” and “KTRC Mode 1” for a trackday or club race, but in wet and/or slippery conditions, that same rider might choose “Low Power” and “KTRC Mode 3”. The various modes are easily selectable from a convenient switch on the left clip-on.
An all-new Showa Big Piston –Separate Function Fork (BP-SFF) combines the innovative concepts of an BPF and an SFF, to produce this new next generation suspension unit. The fork features springs on both sides, with adjustable spring preload in the left tube and adjustable Big Piston compression and rebound damping in the right tube. .3mm thinner fork tube walls save 220-grams per set. Smooth initial stroke action is a one BPF strength that this new fork benefits from, excellent composure under braking is another. The large-diameter (Big) damping piston in the right fork leg is much larger than the dampers that are used in traditional “cartridge” forks with the same external dimensions. Since oil inside the fork leg acts against a much larger surface area, the damping pressure can be reduced without compromising the overall damping effectiveness. Reducing the damping pressure allows the inner fork tube to move more smoothly, which is especially noticeable during the initial part of the stroke. The result is greater composure as the fork begins to compress and a less severe change in chassis attitude as the bike’s weight shifts forward while braking. The new BP-SFF fork is tuned for use on twisty roads. This tuning still allows a high level of performance at the racetrack, with significantly better response in the city and on the highway. The BP-SFF offers much easier adjustability, with all spring preload setting and damper adjustments dedicated to separate fork legs: the spring preload adjuster is on the left fork; the compression and rebound damping adjusters are on the right fork. All adjusters are located on the upper fork caps and easily accessed from above.
The bottom-link Uni-Trak® rear suspension features a new 25mm longer shock spring with a lower rate, and a revised linkage with higher lever ratios for an improved ride in the city or on the highway. Rear shock adjustability includes spring preload, 25-position rebound damping and stepless compression damping.
New one-piece “monobloc” radial-mount Nissin brake calipers and new 310mm petal-type front rotors help provide superb braking power, with great feel at the lever. A new lighter rear brake caliper helps offer good fade-resistance and optimum rear brake performance and squeezes a 220mm petal-type rotor. The rear master cylinder reservoir mounts forward of the swingarm pivot, to maximize free space around the footpeg. The rear brake pedal is coaxially-mounted with the footpeg, for excellent mid-stroke braking efficiency and optimum feel.
The new 2013 Ninja ZX-6R ABS sportbike features the Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). The use of “intelligent” is appropriate, considering just how smart KIBS is. It all starts with a compact and lightweight motorcycle ABS unit, one Bosch designed specifically with sportbikes in mind. KIBS is a multi-sensing system that collects and monitors a wide range of data from wheel speed sensors (the same ones collecting info for the KTRC traction control system) and the bike’s ECU. The monitored parameters include: wheel speed, brake caliper pressure, engine rpm, throttle position, clutch actuation and what gear is currently selected. The KIBS ABS ECU communicates with the engine’s ECU and crunches the numbers, and when it senses a potential lock-up situation, it tells the ABS unit to temporarily reduce brake line pressure, helping the wheel to regain traction. Aside from an ultra-fast response time, it also offers a number of additional sport-riding benefits, including rear-end lift suppression during hard braking, reduced lever kickback during ABS intervention, and enhanced rear brake control during downshifts. A high-precision pressure control unit enables the system to avoid reduced brake performance (unlike some less advanced systems) and maintain proper lever feel.
The 2013 Ninja ZX-6R features new bodywork with a sharp design that communicates a new, more-aggressive image. New larger fairing openings provide increased airflow and enhanced heat dissipation. The new fairing lowers, rear cowl, and assorted blacked-out body panels contribute to the bike’s compact and lightweight appearance. A sleek one-piece front fender offers excellent aerodynamics. New projector beam headlights are encased in a sharp looking new housing that features integrated position lamps. New semi-flush front turn signals are built into the new bodywork, and compact rear turn signals complement the minimalist design of the tail section. A new compact LED taillight is lightweight, very bright and offers a modern high-tech appearance. A “hugger” fender above the swingarm helps to reduce aerodynamic turbulence and helps keep the undertail area clean.
The ergonomic seat-peg-bar layout places the handlebars close to the rider and at an angle that promotes a highly intuitive and comfortable riding position. The fuel tank cover is flared around its top edge to provide a large contact patch and contribute to excellent chassis feedback. A narrow lightweight aluminum rear sub-frame and seat leading edge provide a slender and effective high-performance sportbike riding position, as well as a shorter reach to the pavement.
The instrument panel gives at-a-glance information to the rider, with an analog-style tachometer that is complemented by a multi-function LCD screen. New LCD functions include KTRC and Power Mode indicators, as well as ABS and Economical Riding (ECO) indicators. Additional LCD functions include a digital speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, clock, instant and average fuel consumption, coolant temperature, as well as shift indicator, traction control activity level and low-fuel warning lights. A large gear position indicator gives instant numerical gear confirmation. A new mirror design offers increased rearward visibility without increasing the overall vehicle width.