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Kawasaki Introduces 22-Pound Lighter ZX-6R

Lighter and more powerful . . . that is what Kawasaki says about the new 2009 ZX-6R. With a new chassis and substantially revised motor, Kawasaki hopes to take another step forward in the supersport category. Highlights include a new fork Kawasaki describes as “revolutionary”, and substantial efforts to centralize mass (including raising the center of gravity of the engine 16mm). Here is the full press release from Kawasaki.

To truly push the envelope, a rider needs a calm yet responsive sportbike with precision control feel and confidence-inspiring manners. That machine is perfectly embodied by the new 2009 Ninja® ZX™-6R. Thanks to an extensive overhaul by the Kawasaki engineers; weight shaving, improving mass centralization, refining engine and chassis behavior, adding a revolutionary front fork design; the new leaner, more precise Ninja ZX-6R delivers the elusive calm and confident handling that top racers need.

Fine-tuning the chassis and tightening its mass centralization resulted in lighter handling to make it even easier to tip this ZX-6R into a corner. To optimize front-rear rigidity balance, the engineers revised frame stiffness around the swingarm pivot and the rear engine mounts. The engine was rotated around the output shaft to offer a steeper cylinder bank angle and raise its CG by 16mm. A new exhaust layout with a short side muffler lowers the weight previously located under the seat and an exhaust pre-chamber further contributes to the new ZX-6R’s mass centralization.

The new Ninja ZX-6R’s leaner physique is fundamental to its lighter handling. Both the engine and chassis were evaluated to reduce weight. The intake resonator box and supports for the instrument panel and mirrors are now unitized with the enlarged -to optimize intake volume – Ram Air duct, contributing to weight savings and improving rigidity. New camshafts are now made of lighter SCM, and lightweight magnesium replaces aluminum for the engine covers. Revised internal gears – transmission, oil pump and starter – are lighter without compromising strength. Adjusting several mounting plates and the coolant reservoir locations helped shave additional weight.

Handling wasn’t the only area of improvement on the new Ninja ZX-6R; its lighter engine received a host of changes focused on delivering precise throttle control and increased performance, particularly in the mid-range. A smoother power delivery was achieved through better combustion efficiency. The changes include; adding cylindrical guides to the top of the airbox to better guide the fuel charge into the intake funnels, increasing the distance between the main and sub-throttles by 10mm to reduce inlet turbulence, revised cylinder porting to improve cylinder filling and increasing secondary coil current in the ignition coils.

In addition to healthier bottom-end torque and smoother throttle response, the engine’s mid-range performance was increased via a similar number of refinements, including; new double-bore velocity stacks with inlets at two different heights, pistons with new profiles and improved crown finishing, and reduced mechanical loss by decreasing piston ring tension and revising the cam chain guides to better stabilize the motion of the chain. A new exhaust collector layout rounds out the major changes.

The stronger mid-range torque provides greater drive out of corners and is harmonized with the engine’s silky smooth high-rpm performance. This linear throttle torque delivery results in improved controllability and offers the rider more precise throttle control at all rpm. This predictability pays dividends when making mid-corner power adjustments. When combined with the reduced need to downshift provided by its healthy mid-range performance, the predictable throttle response makes it easier for riders to maintain their rhythm when stringing corners together.

In keeping with its racing heritage, the ZX-6R employs a cassette-type transmission that simplifies gearing changes at the track, reducing set-up time and allowing more time for riding. A slipper clutch allows quick downshifts without upsetting the rest of the chassis when reducing speed on corner entry.

Corner-entry controllability receives a major performance boost, thanks to the first production-use of Showa’s revolutionary new BPF (Big Piston Front fork). The BPF utilizes a large-diameter internal piston, which permits a reduction in damping pressure, for smoother action and better front end feedback – especially under braking and initial corner turn-in. Additionally, the BPF eliminates many of the internal components used in a cartridge-type fork, simplifying construction and resulting in a lighter overall fork weight.

Having already designed a lighter and more rigid swingarm for the Ninja ZX-10R sportbike, the Kawasaki engineers utilized many of the same design components for the new ZX-6R’s swingarm. Shared swingarm parts include both left and right inner plates, the left outer plate, rear stand bosses, brake caliper stopper, chain guard and swingarm pivot shaft.

The response from Kawasaki’s acclaimed triple petal disc brake package with radial calipers was improved as well. The 220mm rear petal disc is now 10mm larger and features a revised brake lever that’s now coaxially mounted with the footpeg for increased mid-stroke braking efficiency and improved feeling. Its master cylinder reservoir was relocated forward of the swingarm – freeing up space around the footpeg, reducing parts and contributing to weight savings. Trackside maintenance is easier too, thanks to the revised front brake hose routing with a three-way joint at the lower triple-clamp to simplify bleeding the brake lines.

All of these revisions give the Ninja ZX-6R unflappable composure under braking and help provide the precise control and feel that allows Supersport racers to enter corners harder. To better capitalize on this lighter machine and its precise control response, the rider interface was appropriately fine-tuned to enhance feedback from the bike to the rider.

The relationship of the seat-to-pegs-to-bar “rider triangle” was adjusted slightly, with the handlebars moved closer to the rider and turned in slightly for a more intuitive riding position. The fuel tank cover is more flared around its top edge, providing a larger contact patch and contributing to improved rider feedback – similar to the ZX-10R. A new narrower rear sub-frame and seat leading edge, plus a 10mm lower seat height provide a slimmer riding position and a shorter reach to the pavement.

A new fairing and a less-complex one-piece front fender – previously a three-piece unit – offer improved aerodynamics and airflow to the radiator, better wind protection and help minimize the effect of crosswinds. The new inner rear fender, mounted above the swingarm, reduces turbulence and helps keep the tail clean. Like its bigger ZX-10R sibling, the ZX-6R received a new instrument panel that provides information at-a-glance and a race-quality adjustable Öhlins steering damper with relief valve and twin-tube design.

Highly confidence inspiring, the engine and chassis control precision offered by the new Ninja ZX-6R enables riders to push harder and maximize the excitement that comes from actively controlling such a high-performance track-focused machine.

Authentic Kawasaki Accessories are available through Kawasaki dealers.

2009 Kawasaki Ninja® ZX™-6R

Features and Benefits

Key Feature

    New leaner physique with a major reduction in weight and improved power delivery offer more precise control, lighter handling and better acceleration

Lightweight engine

  • Camshafts are now made of SCM – saving approximately 400g
  • Lightweight magnesium engine covers are standard and save approximately 610g over aluminum units
  • Revised top injector mounting plate saves approximately 80g
  • Narrower transmission gears and revised gear dog shape provide a 170g weight savings, without compromising rigidity
  • Oil pump and starter gears are machined to use less metal, shedding approximately 70g
  • New inlet pressure pulse monitor enables deletion of the cam angle sensor, further contributing to engine weight reduction
  • Coolant reservoir relocated and redesigned, the new shape and shorter tube save approximately 150g
  • Revised and relocated heat pads contribute another 170g to weight savings
  • Reshaped secondary air passages through the cylinder head contribute to more efficient cleaning of exhaust emissions
  • Cassette-type transmission makes it easy to quickly swap gear ratios, reducing set-up time at the track

Increased mid-range performance

  • New double bore velocity stacks feature inlets at two different heights, increasing performance in both the mid- and high-rpm ranges
  • Increased durability from optimized cam nitriding and tappets enable high-load cam profiles, which improve overall performance
  • Pistons have new profiles and improved crown finishing
  • Molybdenum coated piston skirts reduce friction and help with engine break-in
  • Piston rings with less tension reduce mechanical loss
  • Revised cam chain guides stabilize chain motion, further reduce mechanical loss
  • New exhaust collector layout contributes to improved low and mid-range performance while maintaining high-rpm performance

More precise throttle control

  • Cylindrical guides added to the top of the air cleaner box ensure more accurately sprayed fuel mist from the secondary injectors into the intake funnels, improving combustion efficiency
  • Longer throttle bodies increase the distance between oval sub-throttles and round main throttles 10mm, yielding a smoother transition, which reduces inlet turbulence and increases efficiency
  • Revised cylinder porting delivers improved cylinder-filling and scavenging
  • New ignition coils have 12% greater secondary coil current for improved combustion efficiency, adding to the improved performance

Lightweight chassis

  • The sub-frame is a 2-piece aluminum die-casting consisting of a front and rear section
  • The new lightweight sub-frame is very narrow, for a compact and slim rear end
  • Intake resonator box and supports for the instrument panel and mirrors are unitized with the Ram Air duct, contributing to weight savings and increased rigidity
  • Frame brackets revised to reduce overall number of parts, which also contributes weight savings.
  • New throttle housing material saves approximately 30g

    Revised chassis balance and mass centralization

    • Revised frame stiffness around the swingarm pivot and the rear engine mounts optimizes front-rear rigidity balance
    • Engine is mounted with a steeper cylinder bank angle. Rotated around the output shaft, the engine’s CG is 16mm higher
    • New exhaust layout with a short side muffler lowers weight previously located under the seat
    • An exhaust pre-chamber further contributes to mass centralization

    Ergonomics and chassis feedback

    • Seat-pegs-bar relationship was adjusted slightly, with the handlebars moved closer to the rider and turned in slightly for a more intuitive riding position
    • Fuel tank profile is more flared around its top, similar to the ZX-10R, providing a larger contact patch which contributes to improved rider feedback
    • Slim, waist on fuel tank makes it easy for the rider to grip the tank with his knees or to hang off in turns
    • Front to back, the new seat is shorter, allowing the rider to shift his body farther back on the rear seat step, helping to reduce rider fatigue
    • Steeper rake angle quickens steering response and enhances communication from the front tire
    • Relocating the rear brake master cylinder reservoir forward of the swingarm mount frees up space around the footpeg, enabling a reduction of parts and contributing to weight savings

    Lower seat height

    • New rear sub-frame is narrower, making it easier to reach the ground
    • Front of seat is narrower and seat height is approximately 10mm lower, for a slimmer riding position and a shorter reach to the pavement

    Advanced suspension

    • ZX-6R features the first production-use of Showa’s new Big Piston Front fork (BPF) design
    • The BPF eliminates many of the internal components used in a cartridge-type fork, simplifying construction and resulting in lighter overall fork weight
    • The large-diameter of the BPF’s internal piston allows a reduction in damping pressure, for better feedback and smoother action
    • The ZX-6R swingarm uses many of the same parts as the ZX-10R; both left and right inner plates, the left outer plate, rear stand bosses, brake caliper stopper, chain guard and swingarm pivot shaft
    • Greatly improves braking and initial corner turn-in

    Brakes

    • New 220mm rear petal disc is 10mm larger
    • Revised rear brake lever is now mounted coaxially with the footpeg for increased mid-stroke braking efficiency and improved feeling

    Race-quality steering damper

    • A race quality adjustable Öhlins steering damper with relief valve and twin-tube design is fitted as standard equipment

    Additional Features

    • New fairing offers better wind protection and was designed to minimize the effects of cross winds
    • Position lamps are now integral with the projector beam headlights; the new Ninja ZX-6R now features dual position lamps like the ZX-10R
    • New one-piece fender (previously a three-piece construction) offers improved aerodynamics
    • New inner fender above the swingarm helps to reduce turbulence and keep the undertail clean
    • Revised front brake hose routing with a three-way joint at the lower triple-clamp facilitates bleeding air from the brake lines
    • Similar in design to that of the ZX-10R, the new instrument panel gives at-a-glance information to the rider

    For further details and specifications, visit Kawasaki’s web site here.