All-new Kawasaki ZX-6R for 2009

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Kawasaki has launched its new supersport for 2009 with a look very similar to this year’s ZX-10R. The underseat exhaust has given way to a triangular side-mount muffler as seems to be the rage these days, the tail has taken on a distinctly GSX-R sort of look in its absence, and the tank has gained a huge indentation into which you can settle your helmet’s chinpiece as you assault the main straight on trackdays.

The engine has been revised for a little more peak horsepower (final details yet to be released) and a fatter midrange, with an emphasis on smooth throttle response mid-corner. The new double-bore intake funnels, situated at two different heights, presumably help to boost the low-end and midrange power. The chassis has been lightened, and mass has been purposefully moved around the frame to provide this year’s optimal centre of gravity for quick handling.

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The forks are interesting - this is the first production outing for Showa’s new “Big Piston Forks” - featuring, as the name would suggest, a piston nearly twice the size of that used in the previous cartridge forks. They’re supposed to be lighter than the previous forks, with less internal parts, and offering better feedback and less dive under brakes. Time will tell.

In an era when most of the big companies’ 1000cc superbikes are so often referred to as “the size of a 600,” the ZX-6R has become even more compact for 2009, and the seat has become lower and narrower than ever before, making it accessible to shorter riders. In fact, when pictured with a (presumably) average-sized rider on it as below, it almost looks too small, as if it’s a Ninja 250, not a race-ready 600.

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The 2009 Ninja ZX-6R will retail for US$9,999. Colours this year are black, candy blue, Kwaka green and a limited edition Monster sticker kit on black. Check dealers for availability.

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