Key changes to the FIM Supersport racing rules practically signaled a death knell for 600cc supersport market. Even prior to the revised guidelines, Yamaha discontinued its YZF-R6 platform due to high production costs and low sales.
With models like the KTM 890 Duke R, Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, Ducati Panigale V2, and MV Agusta F3 800 lining up alongside the 600cc inline-fours in 2022, we assumed many manufacturers would follow Yamaha’s example. That’s not the case with Kawasaki, however, and Team Green is already ramping up production for the 2023 Ninja ZX-6R model.
Kawasaki isn’t just sticking to its guns, it’s also not fixing what isn’t broken, and the ZX-6R retains many of its signature underpinnings. The liquid-cooled, DOHC, 636cc engine maintains a slight advantage over its fellow 600cc supersport rivals, and Kawi puts that extra displacement to good use. The brand hasn’t officially released power figures for the 2023 model, but we’re expecting the straight-four to produce close to the 127 horsepower and 52.1 lb-ft of torque claimed by the 2022 ZX-6R.
A quickshifter, selectable power modes, and a slipper and assist clutch help the user extract the most performance from the time-tested mill. On the other hand, two power modes, multi-level traction control, and ABS enable riders to adapt the Ninja to different conditions, whether on the track or on the road. Of course, Kawi shoehorns the potent powerplant into an aluminum perimeter frame suspended by a Showa big piston inverted fork and Uni-Trak rear shock.
Radially-mounted, four-piston Nissin monobloc calipers clamping twin 310mm discs provide all the stopping power and feel necessary for track duty. Kawasaki offers the Metallic Matte Twilight Blue/Metallic Diablo Black colorway for $10,699 and the Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Metallic Diablo Black commands a few extra bucks at $10,999.
Thanks to Team Green’s early production schedule, Kawi customers can expect the 2023 street models to hit U.S. dealerships by late spring. Yes, the 600cc supersport segment may be thinning out, but the 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is still intent on dominating the competition.