A passing thought, ‘are the litrebikes any good at all?’ I mean you obviously can’t go out riding long on them, and in the city the roads are too crammed for them to unleash their full potential. Still, if there had been a racetrack around, I could have convinced myself about the litre-class’ practicality, but there isn’t one, and the idea of riding to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi for a racetrack rampage doesn’t sound that alluring.
But one thing that affirms my belief time and again is the Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R, the mini rocket which is so much fun, that my grin goes ear to ear every time I ride it (though I don’t own one, having seasoned to a cruiser-man). As the New Year models get set to hit the floors, I walked into the Kawasaki dealership once again, to get a taste of the all new 2016 Ninja ZX 6R KRT Edition.
The new 6R largely remains the same as the outgoing, albeit a new paint scheme with green accommodating more of black, and revamped livery. Key features on the 6R KRT include selectable full and low engine power modes, three-mode KTRC traction control tuned to cover a wide range of situations, and Kawasaki Intelligent ABS (KIBS), employing a multi-sensing system.
Hopping on the 6R, the first thing I enjoy immensely is its nimbleness. You feel like being in the pilot seat with everything under total control, not on comfort though. Ideal sport riding position offers intuitive fit that puts the rider instantly at ease.
The tank, seat, and rear frame offer good contact with the bike for enhanced rider feedback. The rider’s triangle keeps weight off the wrists, and the balls of feet in a comfy position while lending aggressive sport riding stance. The 31.7-inch seat feels alright during aggressive riding, but feels bit annoying while riding normal (tad too high).
Kawasaki has even put more padding into the seat to add a bit of comfort as well (though still doubtable), and the rear suspension feels much plusher than what you get on most other sportsbikes. Whenever I rode over some obstacle, I realised the impact wasn’t nearly as severe as I thought it would be.
Chalked up with the biggest engine in its class, the ZX 6R offers racetrack-ready power. But out on the street power delivery is amazingly flexible. Selectable full and low engine power modes allow adjusting power delivery to riding conditions. But there is no difference to bike’s eager response. The low power mode only makes the top end softer (by 20 per cent). The initial and power bands remain unaffected.
I got a taste of the bike’s enormous power right outside the dealership, as I started on the fast bending lane which merges into the busy main road. You’ve got to make haste as soon as you see the chance to enter the main road. As soon as I saw my window of opportunity, I twisted the accelerator; a bit hard (cruiser adapted hands), and much to my panic, the bike gave out a loud roar before plunging ahead into the road with insanity, and I gathered myself on the move, whispering “control it a bit – go easy son”.
The tuned KTRC traction control, works real magic, covering a wide-range of situations from advanced racetrack use, to street riding, to mixed and slippery conditions. Some road patches in Muscat are pretty glossy and slippery, especially near Al Khuwair and Wadi Kabir areas, where you can actually feel loosing grip while on a bike (cars also give out loud screeching tyre sounds while turning; if only the driver could pay heed). I set the traction to wet mode, and viola, I was simply amazed to feel the difference. The bike felt more grounded, as I accelerated more and more confidently.
The KIBS assisted brake setup provides a firm initial bite, and never pulsates even under extremely hard braking. The brakes also remained consistent throughout every spirited sport ride, never fading. The clutch feels very responsive too. The assist and slipper functions offer light clutch pull and minimise wheel chatter caused by aggressive downshifting, which was quite often the case with me, as I time and again tried to feel a gush of hard acceleration, only to be forced to mellow down by a slow mover ahead in sight.
I was finally able to unleash the horses late at night (or early morning to be more precise) on the empty straight stretch in Al Amerat, after the Amerat Heights road. Like I said, the bike will make you forgo your love of the litrebikes, hitting 0 to 100kph in just 3 seconds. On the 3km stretch, the bike hit its top speed of 270kph, and I was actually able to keep up at that speed for a good few seconds before letting – not just a touch and go.
The bike has got a real punchy low and mid power band. The engine is incredibly smooth, pulling from as low as 2,000 rpm, even in sixth gear, and feels powerful through the entire rpm range. It does vibrate a bit above the 8,000 rpm range, but pulls really strong up into the peak 14,000 rpm range.
With most same segment sportbikes, you would need to drop a gear when cruising on the freeway to make a pass. But on the Kawasaki, all it takes is a handful of throttle.
The high low and mid-range torque also offers increased usability in everyday street-riding situations, like riding in stop-and-go traffic, or accelerating to pass another vehicle on the highway.
The only thing that really annoyed me in the bike were the headlights. They work perfect only aesthetically, and are almost useless for night riding (but then same is the case with most sixers). Another big thrill factor on the ZX is its awesome sound note. Under acceleration, it sounds like a fighter jet, and roars just enough to keep the rider happy; nothing annoying.
To conclude the ZX 6R is a do-all sport bike, and can keep up with the literbikes, especially in the corners. The continued dominance of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R in both the FIM World Championship Supersport Series and the European World Superstock 600 series proves just that.
Kawasaki ZX 6R KRT Edition
Engine: 636cc, inline 4
Power: 129.3bhp (13,500rpm) / 135bhp with RAM air, 71Nm (11,500rpm) Torque
Performance: Top Speed: 270kph, 0 – 100kph: 3 seconds
Curb Wet Weight: 192kg
Fairtrade Auto, Al Khuwair