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Old 02-21-2009, 10:16 AM   #1
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On track impression: 2009 ZX6R

Yesterday at Oak Hill, I was graced with the presence of one of the finest motorcycles to roll off the showroom floor. No kidding!

Mark Niemi, team Captain for LSTD Roadracing and 3-time Champions in C-Superstock for the CMRA Endurance series, allowed me to ride the new bike for the '09 season. The bike made quite an impression, so much so that I am questioning my decision to have purchased the GSXR I bought a few months ago and am feverishly trying to complete before Eagle's Canyon race weekend next month.

Let me start by saying that everything this bike did, it did fantastically! I wish I were exaggerating. This is the first bike that I truly felt could go straight from the showroom floor, to removing the lights and stock bodywork, and go straight to the track bone-stock and win. I've ridden all manner of bikes, new, old, modified, stock, Japanese, Italian, British; you name it- I've never thrown a leg over a bike that was this good from the showroom floor!

Starting off with the important stuff, suspension, all I can say is that even with my fattass on it, the suspension felt firm, gave excellent feedback, and was extremely stable in the corners and with corner entry braking. It didn't feel soft, it wasn't all wonky as the bike was braked hard in to the corners, it was really stable in the high-speed sweepers, and it handled the bumps of Oak Hill akin to some of the highly specialized and tuned Ohlins suspensions I've ridden in the past. Mark made no adjustments to this bike at all, no rebound/ compression/ damping/ preload- nothing. It was as it came off the floor, with the exception of the 20 or so miles that were on the clock from Mark riding it around his block- it was as new as it gets. I can't put in to words how good this suspension was, and it saddened me to realize it.

Why so sad? Well, I started to add up all the money I've spent on my current and past bikes to make them behave at speed on some of the toughest tracks in the Country, and it doesn't correspond to the cost of this bike without those mods. It almost seems like I've wasted money for so long on those items. Of course, this '09 ZX didn't exist until now, so I really didn't have a choice, but I'm seriously considering selling my GSXR now and simply buying one of these ZX's!

If there ever was a litmus test for a bike's performance at a tough track, Oak Hill is the one to do it at. It encompasses everything that is good (and some bad) about race tracks with elevation changes, traction challenges, an assortment of different types of corners, and braking challenges. If a bike doesn't perform well at Oak Hill, it's the best place to work out those challenges and make the bike really good at other tracks that don't have the same challenges. I can only imagine how well this bike is going to perform at Cresson which is arguably one of the best tracks in the Country!

On to more about the bike's specifics. The brakes. One word: WOW. These brakes perform as well as my radial Brembo master, stainless lines, and Vesrah RJL pads- NO JOKE! One finger hard braking and tremendous feel/ feedback/ bite from the stock radial master, rubber lines and Kawi pads!

Ergonomics:
This bike is terribly light, has a narrrow/ nimble feel, and puts the rider in a fantastic body position. No need for aftermarket rearsets here, the stock pegs put your feet up and back but in a very comfortable racing position. The bars could be turned out more, the stock clip-ons are turned in quite a bit for my taste, but that's an easy fix if you just have to have that adjusted- as it was, I was not uncomfortable at all, but I would turn them out if I owned the bike. Seat height was perfect, as well as the seat distance from the bars- everything ergonomically seemed well thought out and positioned perfectly.

On to the engine. This bike easily makes as much or more power than the predecessor "cheater" 636 ZX. The power comes on at about 9k smoothly, and continues up to the 19k (?- I remember is was high, but can't remember if it was that high...) red line while smoothly hoisting the front wheel just above the pavement. Like butter! This engine's power felt like a 750's power, but with a higher rev-range and a bit less torque.

The tires were AWESOME! I couldn't believe how good they were! They were the stock Bridgestone street tire that comes on the bike- I didn't look to see what they were exactly, but I wasn't surprised that they were made by Bridgestone. By the end of the day, they were very sticky and came that way just as soon as you got on the track without the use of warmers. Very consistent, predictable, and traction was incredible!

After all that riding yesterday, as soon as I get to the shop, I'm going to go kick my GSXR in the

Just thought I'd share, the bike made quite an impression on me.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:22 AM   #2
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Wow, great write up. , the way you compare it to nearly any moddified bike youve owned before though, especially even when talking such things like brakes and footpegs.......... you would have thought Kawasaki had you on pay roll!!!!! LOL

I will say, there has been something appealing to me by the Kawasakis of late. I think they have been making great looking bikes last couple years
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:22 AM   #3
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I would buy the 09 6R and I am not a track fiend. It's really leaps and bounds above the old 6Rs. 636 power is nothing to scoff at. If it is that good I guess I'll pick one up in a couple of years when they are old and cheap.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:42 AM   #4
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Only for what its worth, i always take this stuff with a grain of salt, but with Toms review maybe they arent full of ?

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Old 02-21-2009, 10:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian f. View Post
Wow, great write up. , the way you compare it to nearly any moddified bike youve owned before though, especially even when talking such things like brakes and footpegs.......... you would have thought Kawasaki had you on pay roll!!!!! LOL

I will say, there has been something appealing to me by the Kawasakis of late. I think they have been making great looking bikes last couple years
Trust me, I've never been a fan of Kawi until now. I've never liked them since the first Ninja was introduced- back then I was a Honda guy and wouldn't have traded my FT500 race bike or my VFR750 for any bike in the world. I was truly surprised at how much I liked the bike- just ask anyone that was at the track yesterday- it was just that impressive.

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Only for what its worth, i always take this stuff with a grain of salt, but with Toms review maybe they arent full of ?

YouTube - 2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R Supersport First Ride
All I can say is, if you get a chance to ride one, take it and see what you think. I was shocked.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:54 AM   #6
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I just watched that vid- I can't believe they didn't say anything about the brakes! Those things rawked!

The Ohlins damper is a real Ohlins unit, but it's "de-tuned" for the street. It seems like it would work well on the streets and back-roads, but it was weak for the track. It can be sent off for re-tuning from Ohlins for the track though- which is a big plus too.
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Old 02-21-2009, 05:13 PM   #7
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Nice write up Tom. May have to consider getting one after this summer.
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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Hells yea! I hope Mark lets me ride it too
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Hells yea! I hope Mark lets me ride it too
-Gabe
Well, he might, but you know he likes me better...
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:59 PM   #10
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Thanks, that was a great write up.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:08 AM   #11
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Nice write up Tom!!! Made for an excellent read this fine Sunday morning with my coffee! I love me a Kawi....Kawi still owns my heart

You need to be a journalist for a cycle magazine or something.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:21 AM   #12
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Nice write up tommy boy!!!
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Nice write up Tom!!! Made for an excellent read this fine Sunday morning with my coffee! I love me a Kawi....Kawi still owns my heart

You need to be a journalist for a cycle magazine or something.
I have said that several times before.
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Old 02-24-2009, 04:05 AM   #14
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I agree with buck, it read like an article from a motorcycle magazine. I'll have to test the new 6R...the 06 model has so much lag on mid range its not even funny. I just recently had the european mod to cure this lag, not bad at all.
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:24 AM   #15
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Very nice right up indeed Tom. It felt very smooth from acceleration to braking in the turns...even from a passengers standpoint.
I really enjoyed my first time riding on the track, and I think it was due to the feel of the stability of the bike and the skill level of it's rider

I thought I liked the ZX10 from the get go, well minus the Kawi green , but I think the ZX6 has me... but only from the Kawi brand name. I still love my Suki.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:58 AM   #16
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Very nice right up indeed Tom. It felt very smooth from acceleration to braking in the turns...even from a passengers standpoint.
I really enjoyed my first time riding on the track, and I think it was due to the feel of the stability of the bike and the skill level of it's rider

I thought I liked the ZX10 from the get go, well minus the Kawi green , but I think the ZX6 has me... but only from the Kawi brand name. I still love my Suki.
No dear, that was the driver...

Next time, you're bringing your bike- no more riding !
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tomLSTD View Post
No dear, that was the driver...

Next time, you're bringing your bike- no more riding !
Tom, Tom, Tom.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:13 PM   #18
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FYI, the tires are BT016
They come stock a number of bikes now.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:27 PM   #19
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I am planning to pick one up next year if I ever continue to do tracks. B016 are the bombs of street tires.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
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No dear, that was the driver...

Next time, you're bringing your bike- no more riding !
yea, it was ALL you Tommy boy, ALL you and yea... my Suki will be hitting ECR for realz this time.
unless they decide to rebuild my knee again
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