2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R | Preview

2013-kawasaki-ninja-zx-6r-longterm-street-review-82013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Sportbike

Following a six-year absence, Kawasaki returns with the 636 version of the ZX-6R, the 599cc inline four getting a bump back to 636cc.

Kawasaki unveiled the bike Thursday during its “Ninja Times Square Takeover” event, which also showcased the all-new Ninja 300 that replaces last year’s 250R.

The long-stroke 636 is designed for enhanced performance throughout the powerband, creating a more optimal sportbike on the street. Kawasaki says “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.”

The 2013 Ninja ZX-6R, which is available with optional ABS for $1000 over the $11,699 base price, features a totally revamped engine. The 636 is loaded with new features, including new intake- and exhaust-port shapes for improved throttle performance, lightweight chromoly steel intake and exhaust camshafts, revised piston crowns, and shorter 1.5mm connecting rods.

The airbox is also larger than previous ZX-6R models, the new box featuring 12.5 percent more internal volume, allowing for both “increased power and a smoother power delivery.” Further enhancements were also designed into the 2013 Ninja ZX-6R’s intake system.

Kawasaki says “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 636cc 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.”

The Ninja ZX-6R arrives with a new F.C.C. clutch that features assist and slipper functions for effortless downshifts. Kawasaki says 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.”

The transmission is a cassette type that simplifies gearing changes at the track, and features a shorter first gear and more strength throughout to compensate for the 636’s extra torque.

The 2013 ZX-6R features a three-mode Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) similar to the one found on the hypersport ZX-14R. Modes 1 and 2 offer maximum acceleration. Kawasaki says 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.

The third mode is similar to the tuning of Kawasaki’s flagship sport tourer – the Concours 14. 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.

Kawasaki says “this highly effective system uses minimal hardware paired with very advanced software programming that monitors various parameters and rider inputs. Aside from software, the only hardware required by the KTRC system is use of the ABS system’s 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.”

With KTRC and the power mode options, eight separate combinations are available, satisfying the needs of various street and track situations.

Along with the KTRC and power modes arrives other electronics, such as the optional Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). Kawasaki says 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 brakes were also upgraded, the 2013 Ninja ZX-6R featuring monobloc radial-mounted Nissin brake calipers, which are 45 grams lighter than a two-piece caliper. Stopping up front arrives from dual 310mm petal-type rotors, and a single 220mm petal-type rotor out back. Kawasaki also relocated the rear master cylinder reservoir mounts, which are pushed forward on the swingarm pivot for addition space around the footpeg.

The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R features an all-new Showa Big Piston-Separate Function Fork (BP-SFF) up front, which 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. The tubes were designed 3mm thinner, helping to shave 220 grams of weight.

Kawasaki says “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.”

Out back, the 2013 ZX-6R features a bottom-link Uni-Trak rear suspension with a 25,, longer shock spring that features a lower rate, and revised linkage for improved riding in the city or the highway. Rear shock adjustability includes spring preload, 25-position rebound damping and stepless compression damping.

Speaking of the frame, Kawasaki says “the lightweight twin-spar aluminum frame places the engine in the optimum position for superb handling and rider feedback. It features a new steeper 23.5-degree rake angle that helps quicken steering response, enhance maneuverability and promote clear communication from the front tire. It also uses new steering stem seals that produce less friction for easier steering inputs and noticeably improved handling at low speeds.”

The 2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R also receives more aggressive bodywork, LED headlight, hugger rear fender, more optimal ergonomics and fuel-tank shape, a revised instrument panel with analog-style tachometer and multi-function LCD screen with shift indicator, traction control levels and low-fueling lights, and revised mirrors for better visibility.

Following are the highlights, specs, color options and MSRP for the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Highlights:

Key Features:

  • Genuine Supersport performance and styling with an added dose of street potency
  • New 636cc inline-four is supremely powerful on the racetrack and extremely flexible on the street
  • New Selectable engine power modes
  • New Three-mode KTRC traction control
  • New Showa Big Piston – Separate Function Fork (BP-SFF) offers light weight, easy adjustability and fantastic wheel control
  • New Supersport-grade KIBS ABS provides maximum stopping performance, with added peace of mind
  • New one-piece “monobloc” radial-mount Nissin front brake calipers and radial-pump front brake master cylinder offer superb braking power and control
  • New F.C.C. clutch with assist and slipper functions offers light clutch pull, strong clamping force and helps minimize wheel chatter caused by aggressive downshifting
  • New sharp and aggressive bodywork and styling details clearly shout: “Performance Counts!”
  • Revised lightweight twin-spar aluminum frame places the engine in the optimum position for superb handling and rider feedback and features a new steeper 23.5-degree rake angle that helps quicken steering response, enhance maneuverability and promote clear communication from the front tire
  • New Steering stem seals produce less friction for easier steering inputs and noticeably improved handling at low speeds

NEW 636cc Engine:

  • New 636cc displacement uses a longer-stroke to boost engine performance throughout the rev range. Low-mid range torque is especially enhanced, making roll-on and real world performance more usable
  • Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) system features four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles
  • Revised intake and exhaust ports suit the engine’s larger displacement. The intake ports are wider near the throttle bodies and the passages to the valves split earlier. The exhaust ports are wider near the exhaust valves
  • New intake cam lobes feature longer duration, intake and exhaust lobes have increased lift for additional power
  • Chrome-moly steel camshafts are light, strong and durable
  • New pistons feature a revised crown to enhance strength and accommodate the increased valve lift
  • Revised 12.9:1 compression ratio suits longer-stroke and increased displacement
  • Molybdenum coating on piston skirts reduces friction and facilitates engine break-in
  • New straight piston pins have increased rigidity to help maintain high-rpm performance and reliability
  • New connecting rods are shorter and stronger to suit the increased power. They also feature thicker stems and larger-radius small ends for additional strength
  • Modified passages connecting cylinders were revised so the longer stroke would not cause the pistons to obstruct them and increase pumping losses
  • New larger airbox contributes to increased peak power and smooth power delivery
  • New longer, single-bore intake funnels improve low-mid range torque. Two different funnel shapes (outer are the same, inner are the same ) help deliver optimized throttle response
  • Ultra-fine atomizing injectors help ensure complete air-fuel mixing and maximum combustion efficiency. More precise tuning contributes to reduced emissions. The injectors can also flow a greater volume of fuel, to help match the new larger-displacement engine
  • New exhaust features balance tubes on all four header pipes to maximize low-end torque
  • Exhaust pre-chamber makes efficient use of space, reduces exhaust noise and allows a smaller muffler to be used
  • New muffler features a triangular cross-section to provide sufficient internal volume while still offering good ground clearance and maximum lean angle, as well as a compact appearance
  • New lighter generator with revised coils produces less heat and reduces mechanical loss
  • New zero-cross control voltage regulator significantly reduces the amount of electronic noise produced when it interrupts the generator’s output
  • Cassette-type transmission helps simplify ratio-swaps and reduce set-up time at the track
  • New shorter first gear, stronger alloys and revised gear thicknesses improve durability and help cope with the extra torque produced by the 636cc engine
  • Lightweight x-ring drive chain uses lightening holes on the inner link plates to reduce weight.

NEW Selectable Power Modes:

  • New power mode selector on the left clip-on gives ZX-6R riders the option to choose between two different engine power delivery modes to suit their needs
  • Output at low- rpm is the same in both modes, but “Low” mode limits engine output to approximately 80% and gives a milder throttle response. “Hi” mode allows the full performance potential of the engine to be unleashed

NEW Three-Mode Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC):

  • New three-mode KTRC traction control combines the best elements of the Ninja ZX-10R S-KTRC and ZX-14R/Concours14 KTRC systems.
  • Three different modes are tuned to cover a wide-range of situations from advanced racetrack use, to normal street riding, to mixed/slippery conditions, for enhanced rider confidence
  • Mode 1 is tuned to maximize acceleration, like the ZX-10R S-KTRC system
  • Mode 2 is tuned to help provide a balance of performance with minimal wheel slip
  • Mode 3 prioritizes slip elimination, similar to the Concours14 ABS sport touring KTRC system, for enhanced rider confidence in mixed or slippery conditions
  • The KTRC system may also be turned-off completely, at the rider’s discretion
  • Handy mode selector on the left clip-on makes it easy for the rider to change KTRC settings
  • Using complex programming algorithms, the KTRC system is able to predict impending wheelspin and act before slippage exceeds the optimum range, allowing reductions in power to be minimized for ultra-smooth operation
  • In modes 1 and 2, conditions are analyzed 200 times per second and any necessary adjustments are made through ignition timing alone, for extremely quick response from the engine and KTRC system
  • In Mode 3, the system functions like mode 2 under most conditions, but when excessive rear wheel spin is detected, Mode 3 switches to complete three-way control of ignition timing, fuel delivery and intake airflow to regulate engine output to a level that allows the rear wheel to regain grip. By controlling the sub-throttles in the intake tract for precise torque management, a smooth and natural feeling can be attained: Mode 3 intervention and on/off transitions are very smooth to help maintain stability during extended operation
  • The system uses minimal hardware supplemented by advanced software. In addition to the engine’s ECU, the system only requires input from front and rear wheel-speed sensors, so no additional weight is required on the ABS model, because it already has wheel-speed sensors

NEW F.C.C. Clutch with Assist and Slipper Functions:

  • New F.C.C. clutch with assist & slipper functions uses two types of cams, an assist cam and a slipper cam that were developed based on racetrack testing and rider feedback
  • The F.C.C. clutch’s “assist” cam acts like a self-servo mechanism, pulling the clutch hub and operating plate together to compress the clutch plates under load. This allows the total clutch spring count and pressure to be reduced, resulting in a 20% reduction in effort at the clutch lever
  • The assist cam also increases the torque capacity of the clutch so it can cope with the extra torque produced by the new 636cc engine, without gaining any weight
  • The F.C.C. clutch’s “slipper” cam reduces the clamping force on the clutch hub and operating plate when back-torque conditions are present and helps prevent rear wheel hop on trailing-throttle and when down-shifting
  • New spring plate assembly provides smoother engagement and helps minimize clutch judder
  • New aluminum clutch hub is 600-grams lighter than the previous steel unit

NEW Supersport-grade KIBS ABS with Monobloc Nissin Calipers:

  • KIBS is a multi-sensing system, using input from numerous sources. In addition to front and rear wheel speed sensors (standard for any ABS system), KIBS also monitors front caliper hydraulic pressure and data from the engine’s ECU (throttle position, engine speed, clutch actuation and gear position)
  • Compact, lightweight BOSCH ABS unit was designed specifically for sportbike use and made its first mass-production appearance on the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R
  • Highly-precise brake pressure control enables the system to avoid a reduction in brake performance due to excessive pressure drops, and allows good brake lever feel to be maintained during KIBS intervention by providing smaller and lighter ABS pulses than comparable systems
  • Supersport models frequently encounter higher braking forces than less sporting models, so there is a greater likelihood of rear tire lift under extreme deceleration. By monitoring hydraulic pressure at the front calipers, KIBS is able to regulate pressure increases and help reduce the tendency of the rear tire to lift.
  • By accounting for back-torque, KIBS is able to offer increased rear brake control during downshifts. KIBS parameters include throttle position, clutch actuation and gear position, allowing the system to predict back-torque caused by trailing-throttle at high-rpm, or down-shifting. Rear wheel slip due to engine braking often triggers ABS action on standard systems, but by preventing unnecessary ABS intervention in these situations, KIBS helps enhance rear brake control
  • Thanks to the compact size and light weight of the ABS unit, the entire system adds only 4.4 pounds compared to non-ABS models
  • New highly rigid, radial-mount “monobloc” Nissin brake calipers offer superb control and a firmer feel at the front brake lever. They are a total of 90-grams lighter and offer increased heat dissipation compared to the previous model
  • New larger-diameter semi-floating 310mm stainless-steel petal-type front rotors contribute to stronger braking performance
  • Radial-pump master cylinder gives excellent lever feel and helps offer superb brake modulation
  • Front brake hose routing features a three-way joint at the lower triple clamp that facilitates effective brake line bleeding to help maintain a firm feel at the front brake lever
  • New lighter rear brake caliper from the ZX-10R superbike helps offer good anti-fade performance and squeezes a 220mm petal-type rotor
  • Rear brake pedal is mounted coaxially with the footpeg for good braking efficiency mid-stroke and excellent response to lever inputs
  • Rear brake master cylinder reservoir is mounted forward of the swingarm pivot, to maximize space around the footpeg

NEW Big Piston – Separate Function Fork: (BP-SFF):

  • New BP-SFF fork combines the features of Showa’s big piston and separate function forks, featuring springs on both sides, with dedicated preload adjustability in the left tube and dedicated damping pistons and adjustability in the right tube
  • New .3mm thinner fork tube walls provide a 220-gram weight reduction
  • Big Piston design provides smooth action during the initial part of the stroke and contributes to excellent feel during heavy braking. The large-diameter damper piston is much bigger than those used in traditional “cartridge” forks
  • Big Piston design allows the fork oil to act on a much larger surface area, so the damping pressure can be reduced without compromising effectiveness. Reducing the damping pressure allows the slider to react more smoothly, which is especially noticeable during the initial part of the stroke. The result is greater control as the fork begins to compress and very calm response during braking-induced weight-transfer, for greater chassis stability on corner entry
  • Fork settings were tuned for maximum effectiveness on twisty roads, allowing a high level of performance for the racetrack, with a much better ride in the city and on the highway
  • BP-SFF design offers much easier adjustability, by locating all adjusters in the caps at the top of the two fork tubes: preload on the left; compression and rebound damping on the right.

Rear suspension:

  • Bottom-link Uni-Trak rear suspension offers 5.3 inches of travel and features a gas-charged shock with top-out spring and a pillow ball upper shock mount
  • New rear spring is 25mm longer and features a softer rate than the previous model to enhance ride comfort and compliance when the road isn’t racetrack-smooth
  • New rear suspension linkage has a higher leverage ratio for improved rear ride comfort
  • Full adjustability includes: stepless compression damping, 25-way adjustable rebound damping, and fully adjustable spring preload

Lightweight Chassis:

  • Revised lightweight twin-spar aluminum frame places the engine in the optimum position for superb handling and rider feedback
  • New steeper 23.5 rake angle helps quicken steering response, enhance maneuverability and promotes clear communication from the front tire
  • New lighter steering stem seals produce less friction for easier steering inputs and noticeably improved handling at low speeds
  • 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
  • Forward-tilted engine layout gives a steep intake angle and excellent CG
  • The sub-frame is a lightweight two-piece aluminum die-casting and is very narrow for a compact and slim rear profile

NEW Bodywork:

  • Front fairing features a sharp design that communicates a new, more-aggressive image
  • New larger fairing openings provide increased airflow and enhanced heat dissipation
  • New lower fairing, rear cowl, and assorted blacked-out panels contribute to the bike’s compact and lightweight appearance
  • One-piece front fender offers excellent aerodynamics
  • New projector beam headlights feature sharp looking housings with integrated position lamps
  • New front turn signals are built into the new bodywork and compact rear turn signals complement the minimalist tail section
  • New compact LED taillight is lightweight, very bright and offers modern high-tech appearance
  • Inner fender above the swingarm helps to reduce turbulence and helps keep the undertail clean


  • Instrument panel gives at-a-glance information to the rider. An analog-style tachometer is complemented by a multi-function LCD screen
  • New LCD functions include KTRC, Power Mode, ABS and Economical Riding (ECO) indicators
  • Additional LCD functions include a digital speedometer, odometer, dual trip meter, clock, instant and average fuel consumption, coolant temperature, and shift indicator, traction control activity and low-fuel warning lamps
  • Large gear position indicator gives instant numerical gear confirmation
  • New mirror design offers increased rearward visibility without increasing overall vehicle width
  • Ergonomic seat-peg-bar layout places the handlebars close to the rider and the footpegs in a moderate rearset position for an intuitive high-performance riding position that is comfortable enough for everyday use
  • Fuel tank is flared around its top, similar to the ZX-10R, providing a large contact patch for excellent rider feedback
  • Slim-waisted fuel tank makes it easy for the rider to grip the tank with their knees, or to hang off in turns
  • Front of seat is narrow and low for a slim riding position and a short reach to the pavement

Genuine Kawasaki Accessories:

  • An adjustable Öhlins twin-tube steering damper is available as an accessory, to help ensure stable damping performance and superb kickback absorption, even under race conditions.
  • A taller, “bubble” windscreen is available to provide enhanced aerodynamic protection
  • Frame sliders/engine guards are available to help protect the engine and chassis
  • Axle sliders are available to help protect the fork legs and front brakes
  • A stylish color-matched seat cowl is available and mounts in place of the rear seat to enhance the visual aggression of the new Ninja ZX-6R

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 636cc
  • Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 45.1mm
  • Compression ratio: 12.9:1
  • Fuel injection: DFI with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies and oval sub-throttles
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final drive: 520 series X-ring chain
  • Rake / trail: 23.5 degrees / 4.0 in.
  • Frame type: Aluminum perimeter
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear tire: 180/55 ZR17
  • Wheelbase: 54.9 in.
  • Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm inverted Showa BP-SFF fork with top-out springs, stepless compression and rebound damping, 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, stepless compression damping, 25-way adjustable rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / 5.3 in.
  • Front brakes: Dual 310mm petal rotors with dual radial-mount, Nissin four-piston, monobloc calipers and KIBS ABS
  • Rear brake: Single 220mm petal rotor with single-piston caliper and KIBS ABS
  • Overall length: 82.1 in.
  • Overall width: 27.8 in.
  • Overall height: 43.9 in.
  • Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
  • Seat height: 32.7 in.
  • Curb weight: 427.8 lbs.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Color Options / MSRP:

  • Pearl Flat Stardust White / Flat Ebony / $11,699 ($12,699 ABS)
  • Metallic Spark Black / Flat Ebony / $11,699 ($12,699 ABS)
  • Lime Green / Metallic Spark Black / $11,699 ($12,699 ABS)



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