The Kawasaki Ninja 600R was first manufactured between 1985 and 1990 as the GPZ in Europe, and then from 1988 to 1997 as the GPX.
These bikes were later taken over by the ZX-6 and ZZR600 bikes, and later by the ZX6R bikes.
The name Ninja 600R was used in the North American market.
This article answers the question: “Is A Kawasaki Ninja 600 A Good First Bike?”…
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Is a Kawasaki Ninja 600 A Good First Bike?
The older 600cc bike is not an ideal first bike choice because it lacks a lot of the more modern equipment. The more modern 600cc Ninja bikes like the ZX6R and its predecessor the ZX-6 are more suitable as beginner bikes, even though their power ratings are very high.
The original 600R from the late 1980s and 1990s still features an anti-dive system, an electronic suspension control system, an automatic variable damping suspension system, and more.
It also managed up to 84hp.
Among the 600cc range, arguably the best first bike is the Ninja 650.
This one has a larger engine, but impressive control and limited horsepower of 67hp.
The Ninja 650 gave the best balance of power and control to the beginner rider, making an ideal 600cc-range first bike in the Kawasaki Ninja selection.
600 Ninja Vs. 400 Ninja (Best Beginner?)
The 400 Ninja is a solid choice but overall offers less to a beginner in the long term.
In the short term, the 400 is easy to ride, control, and handle on the road.
The limited engine size makes it easy to control.
The 400 also comes with a pleasing level of onboard technology like Kawasaki’s signature Slipper Clutch, as well as a lightweight trellis frame.
It also has ABS, which older Ninja 600 models may lack, and it comes at a great price point even in its newest form.
The 2021 model has an MSRP of just $4,999.
The Ninja 600 models are all more expensive, especially the powerful ZX6R at more than $10,000 MSRP.
For the extra money, however, you do get more advanced features and a lot more power.
The other advantage that the Ninja 600 has over the 400 is in its flexibility for riders.
A 400 is considered a beginner’s bike, and so has little to offer the much more experienced riders.
The 600 on the other hand is a big bike to handle at first but new riders have lots of room to learn and develop.
You’ll spend more on a Ninja 600R, 650, or ZX6R, but you’ll have a bike that you can use as a novice, intermediate and advanced rider.
The 600cc bikes of all models in the Kawasaki Ninja range have much better hardware in both older and newer models, that’s a fact.
From the better suspension to the fully digital instrumentation and more powerful brakes, the 600s tend to have it all.
What’s more, though they have larger engine displacements and are definitely heavier, they don’t feel cumbersome on the road at all.
In this way, riders get the strength and stability from a heavier bike without feeling the load is heavy to manage.
What Is A Good First Bike?
It’s easy to assume that a “first bike” should be of a low engine displacement such as 125cc or 250cc.
In fact, this is not the case.
Since engine displacement is one of the most prominent features in motorcycle naming and features, let’s start there.
A good beginner bike will be 600ccs or less, with a few exceptions.
For example, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is a 649cc bike but with more limited horsepower and torque than usual, giving a great experience for first bike owners without being overpowered.
At the highest end of the spectrum, then engines get up to 1500cc, so 600cc or less is actually only at the halfway point and below.
That suits just about every kind of beginner.
Next, a first bike should be equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
ABS keeps the wheels from locking up when the brakes are active, and that means more control when braking, especially when braking hard.
It’s a common sight to see a beginner motorcycle rider overusing the brake or applying it too keenly.
The ABS will help keep them safely in motion until they find their legs.
Third, a first bike should have a seat height that’s fairly low, probably no more than 32 inches or so. A lower seat height means the rider is more comfortable and can reach the controls more comfortably, too.
New riders also need the ability to easily put one foot down onto the ground flat to stabilize the bike when stopping.
Their lack of confidence can lead to problems if they can’t safely get their foot down when they need to.
Finally, a good first bike is one with clear instruments (digital ones are good), and easy-to-reach handlebars.
The rider’s arms shouldn’t be fully extended to rest comfortably on the handlebars.
What To Consider When You Buy Your First Bike
When looking to buy your first bike, first consider the engine.
The quality and power of the engine are the most relevant factors to you staying safe on the road.
Choose a bike with high-reliability ratings on the engine, as well as good performance metrics like decent horsepower and low-rpm torque.
This will give you confident acceleration but also will help you to learn to ride with purpose and skill.
Next, you should consider the age of the bike, too.
An older bike means fewer safety features, possibly not even ABS. Newer bikes have added tech features like GPS, infotainment, and other useful additions.
When looking at bikes, it’s important you sit on them and try the seat height and position of the handlebars.
If you can’t sit comfortably and easily get one foot flat on the ground; or if you have to stretch your arms to reach the handlebars, then it’s not the right fit.
Consider safety and comfort above performance and speed. Your first bike is about learning to ride well, and safely.
Bikes that offer a comfortable ride are important as you get used to the experience of riding a motorcycle, and while you build your skills.
What Is Important And What Is Not?
On a first bike, safety and comfort are the two more important things. Riding for the first few times can get uncomfortable because your body is not used to being in the riding position.
A bike with a good seat height, easy-to-reach handlebars, and ergonomically sound control systems is the best one.
These features matter.
Horsepower doesn’t matter as much with a first bike.
You can actually get bikes of relatively low horsepower like the Kawasaki Ninja 650, which only gets 67hp, that perform very well and very reliably.
Finally, reliability is extremely important.
It’s not good for a beginner to have a bike that potentially becomes very high-maintenance or tricky to look after.
It won’t endear them to the hobby of motorcycle riding, first of all.
Two more things that don’t matter are entertainment and aesthetics.
Having a good-looking bike is nice, but when it’s your first one isn’t an important feature.
Being safe and being able to learn and develop riding skills is what matters.
Entertainment is unimportant for the same reason.
You don’t need to be listening to music.
You need to be focusing on the road.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Kawasaki Ninja 600?
The Kawasaki Ninja 600 as a range of bikes comes with many pros and cons.
- Superb, easy (but not over-sensitive) handing on all models
- Great technological additions on newer models
- Good power to help you grow into the bike as you improve
- Lower seat heights that suit most riders except those very below average height
- Very reliable engines with decent power and torque
- Comfortable suspension
- Fuel efficient
- Hard seats, and narrow seats on the newest models
- Can be cramped for tall riders
- The frame can feel too bulky at lower speeds and when stopping
What Different Models Of Ninja 600 Exist?
First of all, there was the Kawasaki Ninja 600R that was manufactured from 1985 to 1997.
It had a 529cc engine and a 6-speed constant mesh transmission.
After that came the Kawasaki ZZR600, also known as the ZX-6.
This bike was made from 1990 to 2008. It featured a 599cc four-stroke engine paired with a six-speed transmission.
The successor to the ZX-6 was the ZX6R, which was first released in 1995 and continues to be the main 600cc offering (also offered as 636cc) from Kawasaki.
It is part of a larger ZX family that includes the 7R, 9R, 10R, and 12R.
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