2003 Kawasaki ZX-6R Comaprison

Kevin Duke | July 24, 2003
Kawasaki ZX-6R
Despite top-shelf components, the ZX-6R didn’t feel perfectly composed on the track.

TheĀ ZX-6R used to be the sport-tourer of the 600 supersport class, but now with bits like its trick fork and brakes, Kawi must’ve turned it into a rack, right?

“The riding position is excellent,” says Editorial Director Ken Hutchison, somewhat surprisingly. “The bars are positioned comfortably for my 5′-8″ frame and it gets nothing but praise from me in this area; the seat was also comfy.” Hutch also had props for the attention to detail lavished on the ZX, noting its standard seat cowl, polished exhaust canister, and the nicely finished cockpit. One universally despised aspect of the rider interface is the Kawi’s attractive but flawed instrument cluster. “The light gray LED indicator on the digital tach is nearly impossible to distinguish from the plastic housing around the gauges when you’re hauling ass in the daytime,” he scorned.

No such problems for the three-year-old Suzuki, whose digital speedo and analog tach is the model of simplicity. But it wasn’t all good for the Gixxer Sixxer. “The area the Suzuki lacks most is in its styling and attention to detail,” gripes Chamberlain. MCUSA contributor Jeff Buchanan chimes in, “Sitting on the bike and having to look at the clunky exposed fairing mount makes the bike feel less sophisticated than its peers.”

Also drawing jeers to the GSX-R was its wide tank that made the bike feel like the fatty patty. But when it came time to eat up highway miles the group was happy to be aboard the Suzook. It not only offers the best fairing protection (closely matched by the ZX-6) but also has the plushest seat. Whaaa? Is this really a hard-edged GSX-R? How times have changed.

The Yamaha turns out to be the best compromise for most riding situations, despite its diminutive size and feel. “The riding position is more upright than I would’ve predicted,” notes fast guy Roberti. “It’s actually a more comfortable bike to ride than the ZX-6R.”

2003 Kawasaki ZX-6R Highs & Lows
  • Ballsy motor.
  • Trick components.
  • Nicely finished.
  • Nervous handling.
  • A face only a mother could love.
  • Tach is nearly unreadable at speed.

For the 5’11” rider to pay such a compliment to the little R6 might be a little suspect if it weren’t for the agreement of the 6’0″ Buchanan. “The Yamaha is the most comfortable seat, pegs, bars the best for long rides, yet it retains a racing feel. The tach and speedo are exactly where they should be and easy to grab a quick look at when you’re blazing.” Buchanan also noted that windblast would hit him mid-chest, but buffeting wasn’t much of an issue for our shorter riders.


Despite the trick brakes and fork on the ZX, it’s the big-cube engine that everyone wants to talk about. “Awesome motor!” says Korf, a writer normally adverse to exclamation points. “Great power up top, on bottom, in the middle, everywhere!”


Kevin Duke

Contributing Editor|Articles | Bashing A legend in the motorcycle industry, Duke Danger is known for his wheelie riding antics, excellent writing skills, appetite for press intro dinners and a propensity to wake up late. Once a fearless member of the MotoUSA team, the Canadian kid is often missed but never forgotten.

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