2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Preview

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Kawasaki ZX-6R 2009(left) 2008(right)



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They really did it this time, following in the wake of the monster break out of the 2008 ZX-10R, the team over at Kawasaki is rolling out the little brother, and it's sure to be an equal monster in its own right. The 2009 ZX-6R is a new machine in just about every way. The styling is drastically changed, but even more importantly the performance and engineering has been overhauled and completely reworked to provide an incredible riding experience. The 2009 ZX-6R is bringing to the table some long awaited updates and revisions. While the ZX-6R has long been a favorite with in the serious sports bike community, and among track riders for it's "track qualities" it has suffered with the common street rider. The designers and engineers at Kawasaki has promised to appease every one this time around. The 2009 ZX-6R is, as it has always been a race bred machine designed for one thing and one thing only, getting low in the turns and passing the competition, its just now it's going to look damn good while it does it. The aging look of the ZX-6R has long been a complaint by the die hard Kawasaki fans, but has not yet been cause for defecting to another brand. Next years 2009 ZX-6R is hoping for exactly that, defecting. It's hoping that its aggressive styling and track forged performance will cause other brand loyal riders to come over to the greener side of the fence, and by that they mean Kawi Green. There is a lot to go over for the 2009 ZX-6R, it's practically a completely new bike, and there is little doubt that it will deliver the same earth shaking performance that it's big brother the ZX-10R did for the 2008 model. Kawasaki has been on the warpath to win the arms race between the big four, and this is another example of their commitment to win. Aside from the new looks and 10kg (20lb) lopped off the weight, the headline feature is the first use of Showa’s Big Piston Front fork technology. Eliminating most of the internals associated with traditional cartridge forks, the BPF is simpler and lighter while providing better feedback and smoother action. So let's what else the 2009 ZX-6R has to offer.


The ZX-6R has always been a race machine first and foremost, and because of that over the past year the look of the bike has become outdated, leaving other companies to snatch up riders who desire a fierce looking bike. Kawasaki been playing that catch up game, and for the 2009 ZX-6R, the styling most definitely matched the bikes rawness. With a new distinct styling, and a striking similarity to the ZX-10R, the new ZX-6R has a modern look with jagged lines that some how seem to flow well. Using the 2008 ZX-10R as a reference, most traditionalist will snicker and give an enthusiastic thumbs down for the new look, but in general though it should be well received. Hopefully the new look will draw people over to the greener side of the fence, the Kawi Green that is.

Some of the obvious changes from the 07-08 model to the 09 model are the switch from an under seat tail exhaust to side mounted single can exhaust that unfortunately resembles the ZX-10R. The 2009 ZX-6R is much slimmer in the rear, and is much sharper and pronounced in the front. The core colors will remain the same as well as the Monster Energy Drink team replica series will be offered as well. Underneath all that plastic is what really counts, for 2009 the ZX-6R is a bike reborn.

Lightweight engine

  • Camshafts are now made of SCM - saving approximately 400g
  • Lightweight magnesium engine covers are standard and save approximately 610g over aluminum units
  • Redesigned top injector mounting plate save 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


  • 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


  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 599cc
  • Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
  • Compression ratio: 13.3:1
  • Fuel injection: DFI® with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles, two injectors per throttle body
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
  • Transmission: Six speed
  • Final drive: X-ring chain
  • Rake / trail: 24 deg / 4.0 in.
  • Frame type: Aluminum perimeter
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear tire: 180/55 ZR17
  • Wheelbase: 55.1 in.
  • Front suspension / wheel travel: 41 mm inverted Showa Big Piston Front fork with top-out springs, stepless compression and rebound damping, fully-adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
  • Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® with gas-charged shock, top-out spring and pillow ball upper mount, dual-range (high/low-speed) stepless compression damping, 25-way adjustable rebound damping, fully-adjustable spring preload / 5.2 in.
  • Front brakes: Dual 300mm petal rotors with dual radial-mounted, four-piston, four-pad calipers
  • Rear brake: Single 220mm petal rotor with single-piston caliper
  • Overall length: 82.3 in.
  • Overall width: 27.8 in.
  • Overall height: 43.9 in.
  • Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
  • Seat height: 32.3 in.
  • Curb weight: 421.2 lbs.
  • Color choices: Lime Green
  • Metallic Diablo Black / Flat Super Black
  • Candy Surf Blue / Flat Super Black
  • MSRP: $9,799

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Comments 11 comments

BW 8 years ago

looks good. That can on the side has got to go! but other then that it looks pretty good. It looks very small compared to my 05'. I may trade for one, only time will tell. I'll have to see one in the show room first. overall i give it an 8 out of 10.

Si Yarwood 7 years ago

I own the 08 special edition ninja, I was able to see the 09 beside my bike and I prefer the look of the 08 more.....the 09 looks just like the gsxr and r6....I am also 6'3" and the 09 is a lot lower, no good for us big guys!

DUDE MAN 7 years ago

I really dig this new ninja, however it does look a little on the small side for us taller folk, I have an 05 zx6r and think that is the dux nux but I'm going to take this one for a burn when she's out in Aus and check out how she goes and hopefully the price will be right to let the good times roll

Al 7 years ago

Wow, I've never seen a more fanboyish article. The Ninjas are known for their track qualities...really? How come the only Ninjas I can remember seeing at the track were 250cc?

aaron 7 years ago

I just bought the 09 zx6r monster edition. i like the bike and it handels great and the respons is awsome. nothing bad to say about the bike. i love it and what a big change from the 08. i came off a 07 gsxr 600 to this. safe riding to all

cyrus 7 years ago

what do you think 09 zx6r and 07 cbr600rr? is the green team going to make his name?

taterhunter 7 years ago

i love the bike rides smoother than the '08 but doesn't seem to corner quite as good. and the acceleration is amazing. the bike has greatly improved from last years modle. and at this rait the zx6r will remain number on the track and on the streets. but what else is new?

KawaZukiHonda4life 7 years ago

The new zx6r is quite a nice bike. I really like the looks of it, more so than the 08' model, although the 08 model was nice too. If I had to choose between the two I'd take the 09' because of the increased mid range and side exhaust rather than under the tail. I like the design of under tail exhaust but it doesn't optimize maximum performance. Still though, the 08' is super nice but the 09' won my heart. This bike is very nice. Verrrry nice. Kawasaki, Suzuki and Hondas for life. Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soulRide safe all. (See ya around if you're in Tx)

snedhead 6 years ago

Just bought a 09 zx6r love it power is unreal brakes never felt better slipper clutch awsome I love this bike!!!

Anthony 6 years ago

Got my 09 Z Lime on a 10 plate as i preferred the upper fairing colored boy was it worth the wait.

Added the lower painted fairing parts and it looks gorgeous

Best bike i have ridden and Ive had a few R1 GSXR THOU included.

jim 6 years ago

got a 09 2 months ago and love it. pulls wheelies sit down at 50mph, and great brakes all around top 600 u can buy. ride hard

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