After a long four-year wait, we finally have a modernized 600(ish) supersport motorcycle in the form of the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. Gone are the days of paying modern supersport prices for a bike that was designed before smartphones were popularized (looking at you, Honda and Suzuki). But even that is better than Yamaha, which has completely opted out of the 600 class. While the R7 is an amazing bike in its own right, it is no R6 replacement (give us the R9 already Yamaha; we know it’s tucked away somewhere). Kawasaki is the only brand that has been keeping the supersport 600 market fresh in recent years, and its most recent model was designed in 2019. But after four years, Kawasaki decided it was time to shake things up with its legendary “cheater bike” once again. The new Ninja ZX-6R is a bonafide modern 600 supersport machine featuring all the tech usually reserved for its liter bike brethren.
One of the most obvious additions to the new Ninja is a full-color 4.3-inch TFT dash. This was the most obvious improvement that the ZX-6R needed, especially when even the ZX-4RR has a full TFT display as standard. While I was personally a big fan of the previous generation’s hybrid LCD and analog display, it is hard to discount the versatility and appeal of a full-color TFT dash.
In addition to the TFT display, Kawasaki has introduced four new rider modes, which adjust the Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) system to help make the new ZX-6R a more versatile companion. The first of the modes is sport mode which gives you all of the power of the ZX-6R to enjoy the full supersport riding experience, whether that be on a track or a windy road. The second is road mode, designed to give the bike a more commuter-friendly character for dry surfaces. Up next is a rain mode to make the motorcycle more manageable when you get caught in the occasional downpour. Finally, there is a manual mode that allows the rider to adjust the KTRC system as they see fit.
Another fun tech feature that has been added to the 2024 ZX-6R is Kawasaki’s own Rideolody app for Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to adjust the bike’s settings and check up on the bike’s fuel level and mileage from your smartphone. The Rideology app will also notify riders of incoming phone calls on the bike’s TFT display.
With any good refresh comes styling changes. The new 2024 ZX-6R has fully redesigned bodywork which looks unmistakably Ninja. The new bike has been made sleeker with ZX-10R-inspired 3D interwoven bodywork to give a unique effect by adding layers to the design of the Ninja. One of the major changes is that the entire area around the ram-air intake is painted, unlike the previous model, giving it the unmistakable front cowl the Ninja is known for. New full LED headlights and blinkers have been added to further add to the modern look of the new ZX-6R.
The rider triangle for the 2024 Ninja ZX-6R remains unchanged from the previous generation, giving the aggressive stance that the ZX series of bikes is known for. The narrow, flared-out fuel tank returns to allow riders to grip the tank while cornering, and the front of the seat is still slim, enabling riders to easily reach the ground.
The hallmark of the ZX-6R––its 636cc engine––has been revised for the 2024 model year. The cam profiles have been adjusted to give the Ninja better low-end performance and make the bike more rideable on the street. The exhaust system has also been revised to help meet ever-stricter emissions requirements. While official numbers are not available yet, I would expect this engine to make marginally less top-end horsepower than the previous generation but not enough of a loss to hinder the bike in any way.
The previous generation’s assist and slipper clutch and one-way quick shifter have returned. An auto blip function for clutchless downshifts would have been nice to have, but they are known to be a little fussy when installed on a 600cc inline-four, so this decision may have been for the best.
New for this year are dual 310mm front brake discs with radial-mounted four-piston monoblock Nissin calipers to help bring the Ninja to a stop. The brake discs are also completely round this year with no pattern along the edge to make the ZX-6R fit better into the Ninja lineup. The new Ninja is now also equipped with Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires to keep the grip at the maximum.
While the KTRC system has returned from the last generation, the ABS system has been reworked with the Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Brake System (KIBS) to provide a more precise, less intrusive braking experience. KIBS collects data from many sources within the motorcycle to determine the optimal braking pressure for any situation.
A Supersport for the Modern Age
Like many people, I have been forced to look at liter bikes to find modern creature comforts in the supersport category, even knowing I had little interest in actually utilizing the full power of these flagship models on the street. The new ZX-6R is here to change that and offers a 600-class supersport with all of the modern technology many of us have come to expect from new bikes.