Yamaha R6 Vs ZX6R

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Many people live for the thrill of fast speed. But when it comes to buying the best sports motorcycle, there is a constant debate between the Yamaha R6 vs ZX6R.

The Yamaha YZFR6 and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R both have sleek and menacing looks and smart curves that reduce air friction. These motorcycles are not entry-level as they offer raw power, hit speeds well over 160mph, and a powerful exhaust sound that many experienced riders find exciting.

It can be very challenging choosing between these two beasts so we strove to make the selection easier for you. In this guide, we offer you the key specs of the two motorcycles, along with their key features and major differences that set them apart from each other and the rest of the competition.

As an avid biker, one of my personal and professional goals is to become more proficient around the racetrack. Recently, I have had the good fortune of riding on both the Yamaha YZFR6 and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R and I knew I just needed to do a comparison review on them. So here we are!

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Key Specifications of the Yamaha YZFR6 and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R

Listed below are some of the key specifications of the Yamaha YZFR6 and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R that can give you an idea of their performance as well as the technology used in them.

Differences Yamaha R6 Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R
Engine Size 599cc 636cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four-cylinder 4-stroke, In-Line Four, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gallons 4.5 gallons
Seat Height 33.5 inches 32.7 inches
Curb Weight 419 lbs 425.6lb
Max Power 116.7 hp @ 14,500 rpm 130hp@ 13,500 rpm
Max Torque 45.5 lb-ft @ 10,500 rpm 52.1 lb-ft of torque @ 11,500 rpm
Top Speed 165mph 175mph

Key Differences Between theYamaha YZFR6 and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R

Let’s find out what sets both these superbikes apart from each other.

Performance

When it comes to sheer performance, it seems that the Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R is a winner when compared to the Yamaha YZF-R6. This is attributed to the larger 636cc engine compared to Yamaha's 599cc one. The powerful engine allows the ZX6R to hit speeds up to 175 mph compared to R6’s 165 mph. TheZX6R can also generate a higher maximum torque of 52.1 lb-ft at 11,500 rpm to the R6’s 45.5 lb-ft at 10,500 rpm.

The ZX6R engine was first designed as a 600cc engine but it was later upgraded to 636cc to fight the rising competition in the 600cc sports bike market. The more recent double cylinder engine can nowgenerate 130 hpat 13,500 rpm. On the other hand, the Yamaha R6 has a lower displacement with a 599cc liquid-cooled engine that has been equipped with 16 titanium valves and a horizontal inline-four that allows it to easily generate a whopping 116.7 hp at an rpm of 14,500. This also generates 45.5 ft-lb of torque at rpm of 10,500, enabling it to generate a top speed of 165 mph.

In a competitive race, the ZX 6R will have an initial edge but once the R6 is revved to a higher rpm, it has a better cruise speed.

Frame

The ZX6R has received some good upgrades over the years, including getting a sleeker, more streamlined design that has improved its aerodynamic properties and reduced drag. In 2017, the ZX6R received an elevated exhaust system and windshield and its headlights were made from LED. The frame was built from an aluminum perimeter that made the ZX6R into a superfast and light machine. The smoother look was proven to be more marketable than the Kawasaki’s previous design.

The R6's frame received major upgrades in 2017. The cosmetic change done to the motorcycle made it reminiscent of the iconic R1. Yamaha also made some electronic upgrades to the R6 which increased its stability on the road and allows it to handle any road condition with ease. The resulting bike is sportier and more streamlined.

Suspension

One of the most key features in both superbikes is the right suspension. The Yamaha R6 got an innovative new upgrade in its shocks that are designed to appear more like the R1. The front suspension is equipped with KYB inverted 43mm forks that can be adjusted and the rear suspension is equipped with an adjustable four-way mono-shock. This allows the R6 to grip the ground firmly even as it travels at high speed.

In the ZX6R, the front suspension comes with fully-adjustable Showa SFF-BP forks. The rear suspension was also designed with fully-adjustable UNI-TRAK forks that enable the motorcycle to maneuver smoothly on rough roads. In addition, the rider can also benefit from three-way traction level adjustments.

The Kawasaki’s brake system is operated through a smart ABS System that is supported by 310mm discs and front 4-piston monobloc pistons. The rear is equipped with 210mm petal discs and a single-piston caliper.

An Overview of the Yamaha YZF R6

Yamaha R6 is one of the most widely-recognized middle-weight sports motorcycles that was introduced in 1999 for people who want to upgrade from entry-level motorcycles.The motorcycle has been keeping its legacy and is one of the favorite superbikes of the masses since it makes improvements consistently each year. All in all, the Yamaha YZF R6 has been inspired by its predecessor R1, and has gone through major updates related to sportiness, agility, and style with every release.

In the market for competitive motorsports, the R6 is an excellent contender and is in a class of its own.

The motorcycle is lightweight, made of an aluminum delta box and has an aerodynamic design that allows riders to enjoy its aggressive riding style and reach the top speed of 165 mph in a matter of seconds.

If you are looking for comfort in your ride, then the Yamaha R6 may not be the best option for you because of its riding position.

The R6 offers you rapid acceleration while still offering excellent control to the rider. The raw power and torque are very apparent over high speeds. The new 2017 model has been updated to be quite similar to the R1, particularly its aerodynamic design and sleek cosmetic appearance, which has resulted in about 8% less drag.

Thanks to the innovative new front inverted forks and new rear shocks, there is a marked improvement in shocks. The fuel tank is now engineered with aluminum while the subframe is made of magnesium. The R6 is also equipped with an ABS system, traction control, and various riding modes.

At 116.7 hp, the Yamaha R6 is superfast. In addition, the new model comes with an OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) port; however, if you need to retrieve the diagnostic codes, you will need to buy a separate adaptor for it from the manufacturers, which can be slightly off-putting for riders.

The engine of R6 is engineered with 16 titanium valves, comes with a horizontal inline-four, and is liquid cooled. The 599cc DOHC engine delivers smooth and high-revving power. Since this is a motorcycle designed for racing, it comes with a quick shifter that allows drivers the benefit of clutchless shifting. It also has a race-inspired slipper clutch that manages the back torque generated by the engine when the motorcycle is downshifting aggressively.

In terms of power, the R6 quickly reaches its maximum horsepower of 116.7 at 14,500 rpm and generates a 45.5 ft-lb torque at 10,500 rpm. Thanks to its ride-by-wire chip, the superbike has a crisp and seamless acceleration allowing it to accelerate from 0 to 62 miles in a matter of just 6.8 seconds.

In short, Yamaha R6 is a great bike in the 600cc superbike segment for riders who want to move from entry-level bikes to sports bikes. The R6 comes with a slightly high price tag but many people are willing to pay for quality.

It is available in three beautiful colors: Raven, Team Yamaha Blue, and Vivid Orange/ Matte Raven Black.

Pros

  • Excellent acceleration at high rpms
  • Can go from 0 to 100mph in less than 7 seconds
  • A very streamlined and menacing look
  • An innovative new suspension system
  • Marked improvement in shocks

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Customers may need to buy a separate adaptor to view diagnostic codes

An Overview of the Kawasaki ZX6R

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R is an iconic superbike that is widely acknowledged for its high performance and optimal riding experience in a wide variety of situations.

The ZX6R was first launched in 1995 as part of Kawasaki’s 600cc superbike line. Over the years, the 6R continue to get upgrades which allowed it to compete with sportsbikes in the category like the Yamaha R6. When the motorcycle was first introduced, it shared similar characteristics with the ZX-9R,particularly its RAM air intake. At this time, the 6R was capable of handling a fast acceleration that would take it from 0 to 60mph in just 3.6 seconds. This was attributed to the innovatively designed airbox that allowed the bike to get more power without having to change its displacement.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R initially has an engine size of 600cc; however, the manufacturers soon realized that the market was highly competitive with models like the Yamaha YZF-R6, Honda CBR600F4i, and Suzuki GSX-R600 and it would take more than a 600cc to beat them. Kawasaki then made the bold decision to boost all their displacement from 600cc to 636cc. In the subsequent year, the manufacturers also fuel injected the bike and increased its rpm by 500, giving the superbike more power.

Currently, the ZX6R is powered by a 16-valve 636cc liquid-cooled, inline-four engine that delivers more speed, torque, and flexibility. The power from the engine is transmitted through a six-speed gearbox to the rear wheels. The motorcycle is also equipped with Quick Shifters and a slipper clutch for easy upshifts.

The bike has an aluminum perimeter frame that makes it very light and easy to maneuver in tough terrains. TheZX6R comes with three traction level adjustments that can be controlled with monobloc 4-piston calipers that support the front 310mm discs and a single-piston caliper that supports the rear 210mm discs.

Aside from the frame and displacement, the ZX6R also has the ability to switch between two fuel maps linked with the throttle. The traction control has also seen an upgrade and now comes with sport, city, and rain.

The front suspension of the motorcycle is equipped with BFF-SFF Showa shocks. The exhaust system, windscreen, and LED lights are also upgraded to give the ZX6R a smoother and more aggressive look.

In terms of ergonomics, the ZX6R has a fresh aggressive style that is great for both aggressive street and racetrack riding. Hence, if you are looking for a versatile motorcycle that can offer you the best of both worlds, the ZX6R is a good bet.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R comes in four colors: Pearl Nightshade Teal, Metallic Spark Black, and Pearl Crystal White, Pearl Storm Gray, and Ebony.

Pros

  • The 600cc was upgraded to a 636cc displacement
  • RAM intake that is quite similar to the iconic ZX-9R
  • The addition of quick shifters and slipper clutch
  • Equipped with wonderful suspension
  • Loaded with innovative new technology

Cons

  • Does not offer the most comfortable city rides as seats are quite hard

The Yamaha R6 and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R are both excellent sports motorcycles in the 600cc category. If you have had a lot of experience with entry-level bikes and are now looking to upgrade to more powerful and sporty bikes, then both the Yamaha R6 and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R are excellent options.

The Kawasaki ZX 6R has a slightly bigger engine than the Yamaha R6; however, when you compare the speeds at higher rpm, then it is the latter that takes the cake, thanks to its incredible fast acceleration. If you are drawn more to the aesthetics, in my humble opinion, it is the Kawasaki R6 that has the cooler look.

When making the decision to buy either, keep in mind all their key specifications and aspects so that you make a well-informed choice.

Happy riding!

About THE AUTHOR

Russ Crowley

Russ Crowley

Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.

Read More About Russ Crowley