First Ride: 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Plenty new inside and out for supersport fans.

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R - First Ride

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R - First Ride

Kawasaki is a proud company with a rich performance heritage. It seems that whenever the green machines have fallen behind the curve in a sportbike category, you can bet the draught will only last a few short years. Seems to be the case with the new-for-2009 ZX-6R Ninja, anyway.

The international press launch for the ZX-6R took place in Japan at the Autopolis Circuit, the Kawasaki-owned race facility used extensively throughout the bike's development. I was able to log seven 20-minute sessions over two days aboard the heavily updated 600. I dedicated one entire session to droning along at a street pace—short-shifting, freeway cruise speeds, lugging the engine down to basement revs in the upper gears. I found there to be a perceptible improvement in low- to mid-rpm power production over last year's bike, very nice shift action and minimal engine vibration. Looking forward to some "real" street seat time when we get our testbike back home.

But not being one to allow a fresh and sticky set of race-compound tires to go cold, I put the Bridgestone Battlax BT-003 radials to work and the chassis to the test the rest of the time. I came away impressed with the level of improvements in both power output and handling. After spending time with the new Ninja up close and personal, I also found the bike's revised 10R-inspired styling more appealing than its predecessor's. I only mention this due to the fact many here seem to get caught up in a new model's styling. Just last year when I reported on the ZX-10R, offering a first-ride impression from the Qatar press launch, the message threads were hung up on the bike's unorthodox mirrors. Jeez!

Complete riding impression in the next issue of Cycle World.

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R