ZX 6R vs. R6 – Which is the better superbike

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ZX 6R vs. R6

Many people who own superbikes live for the thrill of fast speeds. The bikes have menacing looks, smart curves to reduce drag and give it an aesthetic feel. If you live for speed then consider the ZX 6R or R6.

The world of superbikes is one of raw power, astronomical speeds, aggressive acceleration, and some of the most menacing and good-looking bikes in the world. The thrill of hitting speeds of over 200 km/h is something most young biking fans relish. Then there is the exhaust sound that makes the statement – this is something powerful.

It is in this world that the Kawasaki ZX 6R and the Yamaha R6 compete. Do not be fooled, these are not entry-level bikes. They are designed for competitive riding. It can be quite a challenge choosing between these two beasts of a machine. This review, takes a closer look at what makes the ZX 6R and R6 at the top of any biking fan top list.

What are the differences between ZX 6R and R6

Model
ZX 6R
R6
Displacement
636cc
599cc
Exhaust pipes
4 in 1 Exhaust
Single exhaust
Bore X Stroke
67mm x 45.1mm
67mm x 42.5mm
Compression
12.9:1
13.1:1
Maximum Power
134
122
Maximum Torque
70.8 Nm
65.7 Nm
Top Speed
262 km/h
257 Km/h
Maximum Torque @rpm
11,000
10,500
Maximum Power @rpm
13,500
14,500
Kerb Weight
196 kg
189kg

ZX 6R vs. R6 – How they differ

Performance

When it comes to performance it seems that the ZX-6R is a clear winner when compared to the R6. Firstly, it comes with a larger engine at 636cc compared to the R6 599cc. This enables the ZX-6R to hit a top speed of 262 km/h compared to the R6 257 km/h. The Kawasaki ZX-6R can generate more maximum torque per rpm at 11,000 to the R6 10,500. But, when it comes to performance at higher rpm, then the R6 unleashes a lot of horsepower. It will deliver 13,500 rpm maximum power compared to the ZX-6R 14,500.

The engine for the ZX-6R was initially a 600cc engine but this was later upgraded to 636cc to accommodate for rising competition in the 600cc category. The new double cylinder engine was now capable of generating 126 worth of horsepower at 70.8 Nm of torque. The Kawasaki R6 uses an innovative The R6 while having a lower displacement than the ZX-6R has a super-efficient 599cc liquid cooled engine with sixteen titanium valves and horizontal inline-four that makes it generate a colossal 116.7 worth of horsepower at a rpm of 14,500. It also generates 45.5 foot pounds of torque @rpm of 10,500. This aggressive engine will give you 419 wet pounds of torque hence enabling the R6 to generate a top speed of 160 mph. In a race the ZX 6R will have some edge when it is starting but once the R6 reaches is revved to higher rpm then it simply cruises at higher speeds.

Frame

The ZX-6R has over the years received some upgrades to help in improving its aerodynamics hence reducing drag. In 2017, it received a restyled exhaust system and windshield while the headlights were made LED. The body frame consists of an aluminum perimeter that enables the ZX-6R to be superlight and fast. The sculpted look gives the ZX-6R a more aggressive look that makes it more marketable.

The R6 received ones of its major update in 2017. This cosmetic change made it more like the R1 with the same curves that make the R1 iconic. It also given an electronics upgrade enabling it to handle anything on the road with ease. The new R6 is sportier and sexier to look at.

Suspension

Where would a superbike be without the right suspension. For the front the ZX -6R comes with Showa SFF-BP forks that are fully adjustable, at the rear you get also fully adjustable UNI-TRAK forks that enable the bike to handle any rough roads that come its way. You also get three way traction level adjustment. Braking for the Kawasaki is through an intelligent ABS System that is supported by 310mm discs and front 4-piston monobloc calipers. At the rear you get a single piston caliper that supports 210mm petal discs.

The Yamaha R6 also got an upgrade in its shocks so that they closely resemble the R1. For the front you get some adjustable KYB inverted 43mm forks and at the rear you have four way adjustable mono-shock. This helps the R6 have a firm grip on the ground even at high speeds.

ZX 6R vs. R6 – A comparison Overview

ZX 6R – Overview

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R was introduced to the public in 1995 as part of their 600cc superbike category. With time it has received some upgrades to enable it compete with other bikes like the Yamaha R6. When it was introduced the bike shared similar characteristics with the ZX-9R especially the RAM air intake. At this point it has fast acceleration and could do 0 to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. What really made the bike fast was that the a newly designed airbox that enabled the bike to get more power without changing the displacement.

Initially the bike just had a displacement of 600cc but Kawasaki realized that the 600 category was quite stiff with bike makes like Yamaha having their aggressive looking YZF-R6, Suzuki with their GSX-R600 and Honda pulled out their CBR600F4i. Kawasaki made a bold decision to boost all their ZX-6R models from 2002 from a displacement of 600cc to 636cc. The following year the bike was switched to fuel injection and the rpm increased by 500. This gave the ZX-6R more power. The chassis got some adjustments to make it more lighter, while the RAM air intake was increased and moved to somewhere near the headlights.

It is not only the displacement that changed in the Kawasaki it also come with the ability to switch between two fuel maps that are connected to the throttle. The traction control also got a change and it now features three modes – city, sport, and rain. For front suspension you have BFF-SFF Showa shocks. The ZX-6R is a bike for those tired of entry level bikes are looking for an upgrade. The newest version of the bike was unveiled at the EICMA in Milan in 2018. The windscreen, exhaust system and the LED lights were all revamped to make them more aggressive and better looking.

Once you are ready to move on to more power, Kawasaki have the ZX-10R that is meant for the 1000cc category. The new Ninja ZX-6R liquid cooled 636cc engine is capable of producing a shuttering 126HP at a torque of 70.6Nm. All these power from the engine is transmitted through a six speed gearbox to the rear wheels. You also get a slipper clutch and quick shifters for your upshifts. The Aluminum perimeter frame comes in handy to make the bike superlight and easy to maneuver. To help you better control the three level traction adjustment, you get front 310mm discs that are supported by monobloc 4-piston calipers. At the rear you have 210mm discs that are supported by a single piston caliper.

The new ZX-6R has been equipped with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires. It weighs 194kg and is available in ebony and lime green colors.

What we liked:

  • High displacement
  • RAM intake
  • Slipper clutch and quick shifters
  • Great suspension

What we did not like:

  • Does not perform well for city rides

Yamaha YZF R6– Overview

The Yamaha R6 was introduced in 1999 as a bike for those who wanted to upgrade from an entry level bike to a more powerful one. When it comes to competitive motorsport, the R6 is a solid contender. It has won various World Supersport titles and MotoAmerica championships and this puts it in a class of its own.

When it comes to the Supersport 600 class then the R6 offers you fast acceleration while still giving you the ability to contain the bike. The raw power and torque of the R6 is quite visible at rpms of over 8,000. The bike become fuel injected in 2003 and it was added the innovative Yamaha YCC-T ride by wire technology in 2006. From there the innovative intake valve system was able to boost the bikes power and torque. The deltabox frame similar to that in the R1 was also added to the R6 and this made it easy to tackle under extreme speeds.

At some point there was some controversy on the R6 redline. During adverts it was falsely started that it had a redline of 17,500 rpm but this was significantly higher by 4,000 than the previous model. In reality the true redline for the R6 was the limited 15,800 rpm that is stipulated by the ECU. Finally, the company admitted to the error by starting that the redline is rpm 1,000 lower than what was advertised.

The new 2017 model has been updated so that it is quite similar to the R1. The aerodynamics and styling may fool you that you are riding the R1. You also get an improvement in shocks through front 43mm inverted forks and rear new shock. The fuel tank has been given a facelift to aluminum while the subframe is now made from magnesium. You also get traction control, riding modes, and ABS brakes. Improvements in the aerodynamics have resulted in 8% less drag. The bike is still superfast producing 120HP. The new model also comes with an OBD port but with the downside that you do not have a diagnostic option. This puts one in a peculiar situation as you have to purchase separate adapter for retrieval of diagnostic codes.

Yamaha has three main superbikes each suited for a particular category. For those still getting started on riding you get the R3 which comes with 321cc liquid cooled twin engine that is capable of delivering over 42 HP @rpm of 10,750 and 21.8 foot of torque pounds @rpm of 9,000. The bike will hit a top speed of 111 mph and achieves 56 miles per gallon hence making it ideal for city traffic. Yamaha flagship bike is the R1. It is superfast and comes with a liquid cooled 998cc engine that is capable of generating 200 worth of horsepower at rpm of 13,500. It also generates a massive 82.9 foot pounds of torque @rpm of 11,500. The aluminum deltabox frame is what is available in the R6.

Compared to the R6 the seat for the R1 is a bit higher at 33.7 inches compared to the R6 33.5 inches. When Yamaha made some changes to the R6 in 2006 it did cause a stir in the motoring world. Most of the changes were cosmetic until 2017 when it received a complete makeover that made it look like the R1. Here it received a full electronic package and changes to its bodyframe. The engine of the R6 consists of sixteen titanium valves, its liquid cooled and also comes with horizontal inline-four. All these help the R6 to push its maximum horsepower to 116.7 @rpm of 14,500 and this generates 45.5 foot pounds of torque at 10,500. When the engine is revving at its maximum the R6 will produce 419 wet pounds of torque and this enables it to hit a top speed of 160 mph.

Overall, the R6 is the perfect bike in the 600cc superbike category for anyone who is a bit tired with entry level bikes and is in search of an upgrade. It is not as aggressive as the R1 but it does deliver high Horsepower at higher rpm. The R6 is the cheaper than the R1 and is available in intensity white/matte silver, team Yamaha Blue and Matte gray.

What we liked:

  • Greater acceleration at higher rpms
  • Stylish and aggressive looking bike
  • Awesome suspension system
  • Latest electronics

What we did not like:

  • More pricier than competition

Conclusion

If you are tired of your entry level superbike and are in need of more horsepower, than the 600cc category is a great class to upgrade in. The Kawasaki ZX 6R has a bigger engine than the R6 at 636cc compared to the R6 599cc. But, when it comes to speeds at higher rpm then there is nothing that comes close to the R6. It simply accelerates fast. Overall, the Kawasaki R6 is the better looking bike and delivers when it comes to awesome ride.

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