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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Where is the ZX-6R?

We have been wondering why the 2000 Kawasaki ZX-6R has yet to be released or, as far as we know, ridden by any member of the world press corps. After all, the more significantly changed ZX-9R has had its press intro, and has been on sale in the United States for at least a month.

The ZX-6R received a significant increase in engine compression from 11.8:1 to 12.8:1. This is an extremely high compression ratio for a street legal production motorcycle, and, despite Kawasaki’s claim that “premium fuel” will allow the new 6R to run properly, this may be the source of the delay.

Fuel quality varies from country to country and from manufacturer to manufacturer even within the same country. These variances are generally insignificant for combustion engines run at lower compression ratios. To build a production engine which runs properly only on premium gasoline is unusual and risky.

We intend to discuss our thoughts with Kawasaki and report back to you. We do expect the new 6R to be the horsepower leader in the 600 class (with the possible exception of Triumph). On some dynos, the ZX-6R was already the highest horsepower/highest torque 600cc sportbike available in 1999. Kawasaki also has a well-deserved reputation for building powerful and efficient motors — often more powerful than even larger capacity engines (look at the ZX-9R engine output versus the 12% larger Yamaha R1, for example).

Kawasaki also tweaked the ZX-6R’s chassis for 2000 — looking primarily for improved feedback from the front tire. The ZX-6R was criticised in 1999 for vague feedback from the front end. If the chassis tweaks have worked, and the new motor is as powerful as we expect it to be, the 2000 ZX-6R will certainly be back in the hunt with the Honda F4 and Yamaha R6.