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Free Ninja Horsepower!

Friday, June 23, 2006
Two little pieces of safety wire was all it took to default the US version of the ZX6R to the throatier European ECU settings. The aluminum piece to the left of the picture is what governs the operation of the exhaust powervalve  shutting at high revs with the American ECU.
Two little pieces of safety wire was all it took to default the US version of the ZX6R to the throatier European ECU settings. The aluminum piece to the left of the picture is what governs the operation of the exhaust powervalve, shutting at high revs with the American ECU.
Unless you have a turbo Hayabusa, there's really no such thing as too much power. And when you can get more ponies in the stable at no extra cost, it's like going out with a supermodel who picks up the dinner tab.

In the case of 2005-2006 Kawasaki ZX-6Rs, we've discovered a simple little trick that yields some extra power throughout most of the powerband. More importantly, especially for those who enjoy trackdays, is the extra over-rev up top.

Because of U.S. noise emissions requirements, the ECUs in American-bound ZX-6Rs shuts the exhaust powervalve at high rpm, resulting in a relatively strangled top end compared with European 6Rs. Swapping out ECUs would, of course, be cost-prohibitive, but there's an easy (and free!) way to default a U.S. ECU to the Euro program.

Underneath the seat is a four-pin electrical connector that is capped off. Remove the cap and look at the color-coded wires attached to the junction box. Bridging the green/dark green and black/yellow wires catty corner in the connector defaults the ECU to European spec. We used a couple of short pieces of safety wire to make the connection.

The next step was a trip to the dyno to quantify the results. We brought our Zixxer over to our friends at Area P, a fairly new performance shop run by Kerry Bryant, the former Director of Operations at White Brothers and Vice President at Jardine. Area P fabricates exhaust systems for their own line and for private-label customers. We strapped the ZX to their Dynojet 200i to see what exactly we had gained with this mod.

The dyno graph shows the small but significant increase in power production from using the European ECU settings on the ZX-6R  with the most notable gain up high.
The dyno graph shows the small but significant increase in power production from using the European ECU settings on the ZX-6R, with the most notable gain up high.
Although we weren't able to achieve the expected 5-horse boost in peak power, gaining only about 1 hp and 1 lb-ft of torque in peak values, the real benefit of this mod is readily apparent in the upper reaches of the powerband. Instead of falling off rapidly after 13,000 rpm, the altered programming allows it to keep pulling for another 1000 revs before gradually tailing off. This top-end bonus is noticeable from behind the handlebars, especially at a racetrack. The unexpected benefit of the ECU trickery was a very slight increase in power throughout most of the ZX's powerband.

So, while this mod won't make you think you had installed a nitrous kit, its simplicity and zero cost makes this a must-do for any ZX-6R owner. 



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