The Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R is a consistently popular bike from the eclectic Kawasaki sport bike range.
It is praised for its versatility as both a track-friendly and street-legal bike. It’s also among the more expensive models from Kawasaki at a price firmly over the $10,000 threshold.
This article answers the question: “Is Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R A Good Beginner Bike?”…
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Is The Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R A Good Beginner Bike?
While some beginner riders assume that the Ninja 400 would suit them better as a beginner bike, many quickly discover that the ZX6R is actually a very suitable choice.
It has a fast-revving motor and strong acceleration, but also predictable and responsive steering and a well-controlled suspension to keep the ride balanced and comfortable.
The one drawback for beginners is the high 127-hp rating on the ZX6R.
Anything over 90hp is a bit much for a beginner to handle. The ZX6R is therefore not necessarily the best for the absolute beginner with zero riding experience, but for those with some riding experience, or who had some instruction in motorcycle riding, it is manageable.
Those concerned about the bigger 636cc engine or additional horsepower have other choices, but the fact remains: the Ninja ZX6R is objectively fine for many beginners.
What To Consider Before Buying ZX6R
The first thing to consider will be your own level and confidence.
If you have absolutely zero experience whatsoever in motorcycle riding, then you should consider gaining some knowledge and practice before buying your first bike.
The ZX6R gets up to 127hp, which is somewhat higher than most experts would recommend for a beginner.
Despite this, the ZX6R is very easy to control, including power and speed.
That means that even beginners needn’t worry about losing control on the road.
This is helped greatly by the good handling of the bike.
What Are The Pros And Cons Between ZX6R And Similar Bikes?
When comparing the Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R to similar models like the Yamaha R6 or the Suzuki GSX R600, there are many pros and cons to consider.
The first aspect is the feeling of stability.
Some may believe that the ZX6R feels somewhat heavier when you turn into sharp bends or when the bike moves from side to side.
In fact, this additional weight adds to stability compared to similar models.
Another pro for the ZX6R is in this light and accurate steering.
The new Showa Separate Function Big Piston Forks help to make bike handling more agile for its size.
Most riders are pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness and ease of steering such an apparently large bike.
Finally, the ZX6R is blessed with the ever-reliable, powerful and impressive Kawasaki engine.
Despite its power, it’s very efficient, meets Euro 4 regulations, and is widely regarded as among the most reliable in the industry.
On the more negative side, if you’re thinking about beginner bikes, the one con is the high RPM redline, which can mean beginner riders can sometimes push too hard and gain too much speed too quickly.
One other advantage similar bikes have, especially for taller riders, is a more comfortable riding position.
The ZX6R can feel a bit cramped for some riders, especially over a long distance.
Why Choose Ninja ZX6R Over Ninja 650 Despite The Massive Price Difference?
The Ninja 650 is a decent bike with a reasonable price point at $7,399.
The ZX-6R, in its newest form at least, will cost you at least $10,199.
That’s a big price difference for what is also a smaller engine overall.
So, why choose the ZX6R? First of all, you get a lot of extra power in that bike.
Despite having a 649cc engine, the Ninja 650 only achieves 67hp and redlines closer to 10,000rpm.
The ZX6R gets almost double the horsepower with fewer ccs in the engine.
Next, the ZX6R has greater value retention potential compared to the 650.
Its higher performance specification and greater starting price mean that if and when you choose to sell it you can do that for a better price than the 650.
Next, the ZX6R comes with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires, which offer better traction and dynamism than those of the Ninja 650.
Besides the tires, there are many more advanced features like the above-mentioned Showa fork.
Finally, you’ll get more versatility from the ZX6R because you can use it as a track bike or a street bike.
The Ninja 650 is most comfortable on the street although some do elect to use it for other things.
What Makes A Bike A Good Beginner Bike?
Some think that smaller engines always make good beginner bikes, and while technically true, it is not the whole picture.
A good beginner bike is an engine with enough power for the beginner biker to grow and develop their skills.
A 125cc or 250cc engine has a very limited ceiling.
They will master the speed and handling quickly and have nowhere left to go.
The advantage of bigger engines like 400-650ccs is that learners have more space to advance and learn more.
More engine power also makes a beginner bike more versatile.
As the rider increases in ability, they won’t need to switch bikes.
They can keep the same bike from beginner status through intermediate and into the advanced level.
The ride height is very important.
Though there is no fixed number of inches that suits all beginner riders – because riders are all different heights – it is important for the rider to find a comfortable seat and riding height.
The correct height is one that first of all allows the rider to sit comfortably with easy access to all bike controls.
No control should feel awkward or out of reach.
At the same time, the correct height of a beginner bike is one from which the rider can easily reach their foot down to find the ground and lay their foot flat on the ground.
This is important for when the motorcycle comes to a stop.
Steering on a beginner bike needs to be responsive but not overly sensitive.
It is a common problem for beginner bikers to oversteer or steer too late going into corners.
Therefore, it is better for beginner bikes to have steering that is quite forgiving.
It also needs to be light enough so that the rider can feel in control.
Heavy steering leaves a beginner rider overly concerned with bends in the road.
Ideally, a beginner bike will be between 45-90hp, but more powerful is possible if the bike has other positive features like good steering, comfortable suspension, and easy controls.
Power by itself isn’t a good indicator of what makes a good beginner bike, because just about anything under 1000cc can be perfect for beginners.
The important thing is how much control the rider will have over the power of the bike.
What About Maintenance?
A beginner bike will hopefully be one with strong mechanical reliability and not a high chance of sudden maintenance requirements.
For a beginner, the regular maintenance items should be the only ones that they will likely have to face, like chain cleaning, air filters changes, vehicle fluid flushing, etc.
Keeping the bike simple to maintain is good for beginners because it allows them to learn and master the common techniques for looking after a motorbike.
Is Ninja ZX6R Too Big For A Beginner?
Many see the ZX6R as too big for a beginner, but this is not necessarily the case.
First, in terms of height, the seat height is 32.7 inches, which is a bit higher than other beginner bikes of a similar engine size like the Ninja 650, which is 31.6 inches.
The ZX6R needs the additional height, however, because otherwise, it would be too cramped entirely for taller riders.
As for engine size, the 636cc and 649cc versions of the bike are indeed powerful, but once again not too big for a beginner.
The additional engine power encourages beginners to master control and pace, and gives them space to develop skills.
The frame also appears large and like a “superbike” which some may feel doesn’t suit a beginner or is too heavy.
The large frame of the bike is compensated for with light and agile steering, advanced brakes, and comfortable suspension.
How Much Experience Do You Need To Drive 650 ZX6R?
To start on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R 649cc engine, you’d need at least to know basic motorcycle riding, and have test-ridden on a ZX6R to ensure the ride height and position are comfortable and safe.
If you meet those requirements, there’s no additional experience you’d need to at least start riding the bike.
The bike itself is a great teacher for beginner riders.
It’s challenging at first, but as your skill grows, you can do more with your bike and continue learning the real capabilities of your bike.
You won’t have the same experience on a 125cc or 250cc motorcycle.
Which Kawasaki Ninja Is Best For Beginners?
There are three Kawasaki Ninja motorcycles that are ideal for beginner riders.
Those starting out with truly no experience and little confidence should look to the Ninja 400.
This bike offers sufficient power to master bike riding, along with great onboard tech and a reliable Kawasaki engine.
Another option is the Kawasaki Ninja 650.
This bike offers more horsepower than the 400 but is still well within the 90hp limits that experts say are the boundary for suitable beginner bikes.
Finally, the Kawasaki ZX6R is a strong bike for those that already have some experience and some confidence on a motorcycle (perhaps a dirt bike, for example) and don’t want to get a low-cc bike that they will quickly outgrow.
It is for the confident beginner.
650 ZX6R Vs. 400 Ninja (How big Difference?)
The first and most obvious difference is in power and top speed.
The 650 ZX6R makes 127hp, whereas the 400 only gets to 45hp.
There’s a huge difference there.
The top speeds of the two bikes are also very different.
The ZX6R can get up to speeds of 175mph, whereas the 400 gets to about 100mph.
Besides the performance metrics, riders will find that the ZX6R is a much-upgraded version of the 400, offering a better, fully digital display, more aggressive styling, the extra speed and power mentioned above, as well as superior ride hardware like suspension and tires.
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