Living with a 2001 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Gus Scott the man, the legend, a ladies man and a very tight northerner indeed. And he was very fast on a motorcycle

August 2001

Finally, I have me own long-termer, thanks to me man Bertie Simmonds.

He sorted it out with those lovely people at Kawasaki UK, but I know it's gonna cost me heavily, probably down in the ale house, followed by a big, fat kebab, with everything on...

So why do I want a ZX-6R, then? When they first appeared on the scene half a decade ago, I liked everything about them. I liked the fact that you could thrash it within an inch of its life on the track but then cruise comfortably on the road. It gives me the most predictable and secure feel of any 600 on the road - no matter which tyres it has on. That familiar, horny growl from the airbox beneath the tank, lets you listen to the steady build-up of torque and power. I just find it an easy bike to get along with on the road and I even did a 250 mile journey without feeling too hammered (well, I still had enough energy left to big-up me Julie afterwards). Not bad for a sports bike - or me. Things I want to do to it over the long term is get a chap called Nick Morgan (MSS Racing) to breath over the motor and make it a touch stronger. He's been running in British national racing with ZX-6Rs so he knows what he's on about.

I want to keep it reliable, with minimal noise, so it doesn't attract too much attention - specially not when it's screaming it's nuts off at 160mph on me way to Cumbria (only kidding officer).

Meanwhile, I think I'm gonna personalise her and not bother doing owt else. I've had some 'Gus' stickers made so I'll just pop them on't screen tomorrow.

September 2001

Me and the ZX-6R have spent that last month getting to know each other, and we're getting on swimmingly so far. Through the traffic to work every morning, caning back up North to Kendal on assorted promises every weekend, and generally larking about inbetween and I've got to say the ZX-6R is taking it all in very comfortably.

But I know from enough road tests on 'em over the years that the suspension may be well sorted for the road, but it can start to suffer at the track, going off quite badly as you pile on the laps. So, pulling in a few old racing favours I've managed to get meself a new rear shock. In fact, the very WP unit Iain MacPherson had on his World Supersport ZX-6R from last year. So cheers mate to Wayne Lamb at WP for that. Reckon I'll get Wayne to do a full WP overhaul on the forks too so's I can get the whole bike up to factory World Supersport trim suspension-wise. This should help out a lot at the track, but to help out some more I'll fit some super-sticky Metzeler Rennsport tyres. These'll give the suspension an even harder going over than the stock rubber would have done at the track anyway, so the WP overhaul should really come into its own here.

Otherwise I've got a double bubble screen to help out on long motorway trips and a seat cowl too to make my beast look a touch sportier. A little bit of motor fettling for more power and midrange could be on the way too. By the time I'm done, the ZX'll look like a sweetly made-up angel on the outside, but she'll have the means underneath to go like a high-class hooker on heat.

October 2001

It's been a peaceful few summer weeks for the Kawasaki. But why thrash it every day and wreck it when I've got a perfectly good race bike I can do that on during the summer months?

Mind you, while I was away the other week, trackday novice and TWO ad-bloke Shippey borrowed it for his debut track outing and kindly wrung my baby's neck around Cadwell Park. I was gutted. Felt like someone had had me bird behind me back.

Still, he did return it in one piece and even cleaned it. He loved it too, saying it was the perfect bike to safely guide him around the twisty circuit, although it seemed a bit down on speed next to the R1s and GSX-Rs when it came to the straights. There is an answer to that Shippey, you lanky git, take your own bloody ZX-12R next time! To cap it all, Wozza borrowed it for a couple of nights and knackered the electrics. I just had to throw a paddy!

On the plus side, the Pyramid Plastics double bubble screen has now been fitted, along with the colour matched seat hump which keeps pillions off so I can use the bike the way nature intended. Next I'm going to make some alterations and have some fun on a trackday and see if it really does need anything else done to it.

First I've got to get the bleeder sorted... Wozza! Get your spanners out!

November 2001

Well it's been a lonely month without my ZX6, because Wozza the crasher managed to get his hands on it - HELP! He accidentally left the parking lights on when he put the steering lock on in the daylight and left it in his garage.

Kawasaki UK replaced the battery, job done, problem solved. Thanks guys. Piss off, Warren. Next on my list was some Metzeler Rennsport RS2 road legal tyres. I really like the feel of them on my race bike, so I want to see how they perform on the road. Basically the compound mixture is slightly harder than the RS2 (race green) keeping good stability throughout its state of wear, and lasting longer than a full race compound. Also the road tyres have a slightly different carcass design letting them heat up faster without the use of tyre warmers. Just the job for trackdays and road use then, I reckon. They cost, for a pair £322.77 inc VAT. CPK (01788) 540606 have more information.

Also Worzel, my GSX-R1000 race mechanic fitted an ex-Andrew Pitt World Supersport full competition, fully adjustable WP rear race suspension unit with high and low speed damping, supplied by Wayne Lamb of WP Suspension (01507) 327509. Good pedigree, lovely quality but not cheap at £564.00 inc VAT. However, if you're looking to sharpen the ZX-6R's road-orientated handling package, this may be the way to go. We shall certainly see

March 2002

By Mark Shippey. While Gus was wallowing knee-deep in Thai lady-boys on his trip to the Macau road-race (see last month's issue for his (s)exploits), I had the pleasure of baby-sitting the ZX-6 for a good few weeks.  Just as well really as the 12 was out of action at First Bike awaiting a service and yet another new rear tyre.  Buster's parting words, albeit by text message, were 'don't let Giles or Wozza ride her but put a few miles on the clock. ta'.  No problemo.  While the weather was still just on the right side of shite, I wanted her all to myself for the daily countryside commute and weekend hacks.

First impressions were good.  After all I took the ZX-6 for my first track day at Cadwell a few months back and thought it handled brilliantly then.   What improvements could he have possibly made to my second fave bike on the TWO fleet?   Threw on the hugger that helped to keep the gorgeous WP shock reasonably clean, (I'm a stickler for cleanliness, me...) and the tail light clip which looks cool even if it only is a cosmetic add-on. Gus has added the Metzeler Rennsport tyres which I must say are fan-fackin'-tastic! I wobbled out of the car park on a Tuesday night thinking these tyres are crap.  They took a bit to warm up but once cookin' my confidence rocketed and they stuck like glue to even the crappiest roads.  Even the odd torrential downpour did nothing to slow me down.  Simple fact - buy them for superb winter performance.

The WP shock, although initially set up for the track, was adjusted quite quickly to suit everyday road use a little more and proved to be worth every penny of the £480 asking price.  The ride is smoother and the back end does not skip around the road like it used to.  Feed back from the rear tyre and suspension, even to a novice like me, (novice? Shippey, you've been riding for 10-years! - Bertie.) was excellent and I think helped with the new found confidence in the bikes handling.

Comparisons with the ZX-12 are difficult. I love the 12 to bits and for me it copes with just about anything that could be thrown at it.  As a baby brother to my beast, the six is the perfect all-round good-time package. 

It made me feel like a kid again.  I wanted to ride fast all the time and take those chances that otherwise I may have thought better of in my old age! Every time I jumped on board, a grin spread across my face and I found myself looking for longer ways home. Good tank range (much better than the 12 - 200 on the 6, 130 on the 12...) brilliant handling, bags of room even for a 'lurch' like me, agile, fantastic for commuting and filtering, doesn't make your ears bleed like the 12 (no pipe, see?) Good wind protection from the screen.  Comfy over long distances.  The only real let down is the lack of grunt from the motor.  A full system and re-jet are a must, if only Gus could have stopped texting for two seconds it would have been sorted. Losing out by 70bhp to the 12, you felt the need to rev the bollocks off the 6 all the time as she does feel a little underpowered even for a 600.

Would love to have taken it to Cadwell again to see how much the tyre and suspension changes would have helped my confidence, but this thing called a magazine got in the way and I didn't have time!