2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R Project Bike – Part IV

October 29, 2009
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
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The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

Controls and Brake System
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Project Bike - Wallpaper
The Vortex clip-ons may not look like a major addition but they offer two things that the OEM bars do not. First, the riding position is more aggressive which is suited for track riding. Second, the decreased cost associated with crash repair on these bars makes them worth their weight in aluminum.

 The controls are definitely a subjective improvement to any motorcycle. What we like, you may not like, so the objective for Part IV of our Kawasaki ZX-6R Project Bike is to do two things: First, tailor the motorcycle to fit our needs. Adjustable rear sets, levers and clip-ons are a nice way to do just that.

Clip-on handlebars usually make the riding position more aggressive by lowering the controls compared to stock bars. It also allows for easier crash repairs in case of the dreaded get-off. We used Vortex clip-ons which are milled from billet aluminum, look very trick in their black finish and feature bars that can easily be replaced if they are damaged. The big difference is the addition of the ultra-trick and fully adjustable Vortex Shorty levers ($72.99). Both the front brake and clutch levers offer eight different positions which should accommodate about any size hands.

Vortex Adjustable levers are machined with a square shape to them. 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Project Bike
Adjustable levers are an affordable upgrade and can make a big difference in getting the proper feel behind the controls.

With such a nice-looking lever to actuate the brakes it only makes sense that our braking system is equally-trick. A pair of Braking Directional SK Rotors ($337.99) replaces the stock wave rotors and Goodridge Superbike braided brake lines ($131.99), wrapped in Kevlar replace the stock rubber brake lines. We also stuffed a new set of Braking Brake Pads ($35.99) to replace the OEM units which had been used since we took possession of the bike for our Supersport Shootout at the start of the year.

Now, the OEM brake system on the Ninja isn’t bad, but adding aftermarket components like does improve braking performance on a number of levels. General feel is improved and they are stronger, more powerful than the OEM equipment.

Vortex Adjustable Rear sets - 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Project Bike
The Vortex rear-sets we chose are black anodized, like the OEM pieces we replaced. The color looks good when combined with the other blacked-out components on the bike and the adjustability they provide makes for an improved riding experience.

Last, but not least are the rear-sets. We have a variety to experiment with here but we opted for nifty looking, black anodized Vortex Adjustable rear-sets ($380.00) which take about 30 minutes to install from start to finish. Once they’re in place you can move the pegs in a wide variety of locations thanks to the adjustment system. Simply remove two allen bolts, move to the desired location – available from three rows of nine holes for a wide spread of possible configurations – and, voila, you’re done. Oh yeah, put the bolts back in before you go anywhere and if you want to switch to GP-style shifting pattern the Vortex rear sets can accommodate that as well.

Ground clearance was never an issue during our track testing of the ZX-6R but once you start getting real comfortable on your bike, going faster and increasing lean angles and g-forces it is important to keep the hard parts form dragging. The Vortex components offer a good inch higher placement than the stockers, plus another approximately one inch of movement for and aft. Not to mention that the knurled peg makes it real easy to dig your heels in and spur your bike on when you are carving up the track. Did we mention that they look very-trick as well? This added treatment is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The final piece of the puzzle is the tires and once you have the sticky buns spooned on you will be ready to unleash the club-racer fury on your friends at the track. The only question is, what tires are right for you? Well, we have a full blown Sportbike Tire Comparison review coming up, but until then, you will have to trust our decision to run Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC3 tires on our project bike. We’ll go into that more on the next installment.

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