Sporty – 2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636 Test Drive: a Karrement Super Supersport! – The Thunderhill Trail as Justice of the Peace

2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636 review: a super Karrement Supersport !

Sporty - 2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636 Test Drive: a Karrement Super Supersport! - The Thunderhill Trail as Justice of the Peace

Take a Kawasaki ZX-6R and increase its displacement to 636 cc to boost its mid-range. Add state-of-the-art electronics and softer suspensions: you get the 2013 ZX-6R 636, a Supersport that you can use every day.. Track and road test.

The Thunderhill Trail as Justice of the Peace

Notwithstanding a slightly higher saddle (830 mm against 815 mm on the ZX-6R 2012) and a fork with extended springs and softer calibration for comfort, the driving position is generally identical between the two "6R" . The high perched footrests (unfortunately not adjustable) and the firm seat betray the openly "racing" orientation of the motorcycle: we are dealing with a Supersport, not a Sport-GT !

Moreover, it is on the circuit that Kawasaki offered us the first world test of its 2013 novelty. And not just any: the Thunderhill track, located northeast of San Francisco, California (United States )! Wide and enjoying frightening drops, this 5 km circuit is a real roller coaster that goes up and down at breakneck speed, through ultra-fast breaks, an endless parabolic and multiple entries in blind curves because preceding a cant…

Impressive and physical, the Thunderhill circuit also includes a left-right sequence furiously reminiscent of the famous Laguna Seca "Corkscrew". Just by observing it from the edge of the track, this portion already gives rise to a drop of sweat under the helmet, as the degree of inclination is pronounced in the ascent towards the "pif" and the descent towards the "paf" !

Placed on stand stands, the tires kept at the ideal temperature in heated blankets, the ZX-6R 636 does not allow itself to be intimidated. Certainly in its element, the new Green is ready to do battle and has swapped its original Bridgestone S20s for the occasion for R10s, the racing compounds from the Japanese manufacturer..

Once installed on the handlebars, two things immediately differentiate the novelty of the 599 cc model: because of the increase in the volume of the airbox (a little over 0.5 liters), the tank first appears more pot-bellied. But the most striking is mainly due to the more flexible setting of the suspensions. Despite the track settings applied by Kawa (rear raised by 4 mm by means of a wedge placed between the shock absorber and the frame, firmed hydraulics and preload closed by 2.5 turns), the bike sinks more noticeably under the pilot weight.

The rear benefits in particular from a longer spring and less firmly calibrated than on the 599 cc ZX-6R, while the fork with separate functions (preload settings on the left, rebound and compression on the right) has also shifted the slider. from the "circuit-road" compromise to the second option.

To be perfectly honest, this hardly detracts from the ZX-6R 636’s pistard capabilities! Without reaching the liveliness of a Daytona 675 to which it returns 7 kg (192 kg all full made against 185 for the English), the "636" is maneuverable and intuitive thanks to a straightforward and steering front axle.

Quickly, its inverted Showa fork appears as the first big highlight of the 2013 Ninja. Requested on the brakes, it sinks sharply at the start of the race before gradually slowing its dive thanks to a perfectly calibrated hydraulic system..

This "two-stroke" operation preserves some form of comfort on bumps, while retaining enough rigidity to swing the bike towards the rope with one finger on the brake. The exercise is facilitated by the fine and effective dosage of said brakes: in addition to formidable power, the monobloc calipers and the radial master cylinder offer an exquisite "feel". It’s like pushing the eight pistons towards the two 310mm discs directly with your fingers. !

Endurance is also there, even in the absence of reinforced hoses of the aviation type. Braking remained constant throughout the five 30-minute sessions available to us, despite the high temperature (over 30 ° C) and the demanding nature of the circuit. Our only regret is that we were unable to test the optional ABS (not available during this test) in order to check if it matched well with this remarkable braking machine..

For 37 cc more…

The chord point reached, the acceleration is managed very finely via a precise cable accelerator and injection free of the slightest jerk. These qualities – allied to a more marked engine inertia than the ZX-6R "quite short" – allow to easily modify its trajectory, by simply relieving the right grip in case of optimism..

Stable and benefiting from a traction that is difficult to fault, the new ZX-6R 636 is easily extracted from bends. If necessary, thanks to the high torque (71 Nm at 11,500 rpm), it is possible to let the speed drop down to 7,000 rpm without remaining "stuck" on the go-around, which is not possible. so common in the category.

However, in good "4-legged" of medium displacement, its engine delivers all its ardor (131 hp in static, 137 hp with forced air) between 10,000 revolutions and the switch (16,500 rpm). But it is undeniable that the Green has more "trunk" than its rivals of 600 cc between 4000 and 7000 rpm, regime where the airbox begins to emit a throaty rattle while the metallic sound of the block turns to treble. Race atmosphere guaranteed at 636%: see our video on the circuit on the following pages !

Suddenly, the cornering quickly becomes more pronounced and the re-acceleration on the angle becomes bolder, until the rear shock absorber begins to settle under the generous thrusts of the engine and lets filter some movements.

The phenomenon is not dangerous and is controlled simply by tightening the thighs around the (large) reservoir to firm up its grip. But at this precise moment, the limits of the Ninja’s "sport-road" compromise show through. And that is also because of the ease with which it is possible to go very, very fast on your handlebars … and the feeling of invulnerability distilled by its on-board electronics..

Because when the pace gets really high and all the power struggles to get to the ground, the KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control) comes into action and avoids any untimely evasion. True guardian angel, this traction control has the good taste of remaining discreet and acting with total transparency by reducing the power via the ignition advance..

If its intrusion occurs too early for your liking, it is possible to delay it by choosing among the three available modes, or even to disconnect it completely. An equally interesting feature in road use, because it allows you to adapt the action of the KTRC to your wishes, to your level and to driving conditions (road conditions, weather, etc.).

In the same vein, a flick on the left stalk allows you to choose between two different injection maps (Low Power and Full Power), which may be relevant in a duo and / or on a slippery road. A little less in France, where clamping at 106 hp takes away a lot of interest in this type of system …

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