Culture – The Ninja saga celebrates 25 years! – The turning 600 cc

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The Ninja saga celebrates 25 years !

Culture - The Ninja saga celebrates 25 years! - The turning 600 cc

In 25 years of career, Kawasaki Ninja sports cars have largely contributed to forging this reputation for performance which has made the success of the Akashi brand. From the first GPZ900R in 1984 to the ZX-6R 2009, Site looks back at the Ninja legend !

The turning 600 cc

In the meantime, the ZX-6R made its appearance in 1995. Like the rest of the Ninja range, it is obviously powered by a 4-cylinder twin ACT. The "6R" is in fact the mill of the placid ZZR 600, around which Kawasaki has mounted a more rigorous and sporty chassis..

First 600 cc to reach 100 hp, the ZX-6R then had the heavy task of countering the Honda 600 CBR … To say that it would pass today for a quiet Sport-GT with its enveloping fairing, its passenger handles and its comfortable seat…

But while the 750 category falls into disuse – much to the chagrin of many nostalgic for this tasty displacement – Japanese manufacturers are putting all their firepower into the emerging category of the 600 Supersport. Kawasaki then gradually abandoned the fantastic ZX-7R that appeared in the catalog in 1996.

The first to adopt the "zero road compromise", Yamaha begins hostilities by launching the YZF R6, which literally buries its competitors on the sporting level: cut to the billhook and formidably efficient, the Yam ‘passes the 1998 evolution of the ZX-6R for a nice "girl", despite its expressive 108 hp engine … Unable to respond to the gas plant of the brand in tuning forks – but also to an increasingly sharp CBR -, Kawasaki decides to increase the displacement of its "6R" to 636 cc.

Less radical than its competitors, the ZX-636R however stands out for its greater torque at low and medium revs which earned it the good graces of customers eager for "safe" in road use. However, true to its attachment to competition and the cult of performance, Kawasaki is enraged at not succeeding in capsizing hearts with the sportiness of its 600 (well, 636!)…

In 2003, the Greens then presented two entirely new motorcycles, openly without concessions and only geared towards the stopwatch: on the one hand, the ZX-636R which retains its superior displacement for road users, and on the other the ZX-6R – fitted with the same cycle part and an engine bored to 600 cc – to engage in competition alongside the R6, CBR and other 600 GSX-R.

Much more sporty and efficient, the Ninja ZX-636 opened a new era for the manufacturer: it was then the lightest in production and the first to adopt radial-mount brake calipers. Angry in the towers and endowed with solid revivals at mid-range, the 636 makes its way against the three other Supersports, powerless in the face of the additional torque provided by the 36 cc of the "Zak" !

However, Kawasaki has gone a little far in sportiness and the bike is as explosive as it is delicate to handle on the roads. The "light" front, dry damping and the engine that kicks the buttocks from 10,000 rpm do not make it the absolute weapon for daily driving. In addition, the development of two simultaneous models began to cost the manufacturer dearly, who decided to stop the 636 saga from a heavy 2007 vintage and once again lagging behind the competition..

The latest Ninja to date, the 2009 ZX-6R (read our), however, happily reboots Kawa’s return to business in a category popular with the public.

Between two ZX-6Rs, Kawasaki unveils its biggest Ninja ever in 2000: the impressive ZX-12R! Powered by a 1199 cc four-cylinder, the "12R" develops 178 hp without forced air – "Ram Air" at Kawasaki – and announces 190 hp at full load! Bestial, ultra torquey (13.7 mkg) and not easy to take with its 210 kg dry, the Green directly faces the Suzuki GSX-R 1300 (Hayabusa of its little name) and the Honda 1100 CBR XX on the ground of the max speed…

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