Riding the ZX6E

I rode Kim’s 1997 Kawasaki ZX6E to Danger today, as my coworker Matt is considering buying it.

I’d never ridden the ZX6E before, and a few things really jumped out at me…

general handling
The bike seemed difficult to turn in quickly. I suspect this has more to do with the old tires than with the bike itself (the tire pressures are correct), but it was disconcerting. The bike definitely holds to a line well; it’s just not necessarily the line I would have chosen.

general ergonomics
It’s a lot more sportsbike-ergonomic than standard-ergonomic, which surprised me. It has clip-ons, but they’re high-mount (sorta like the SVS posture after I added the higher bars), so I expected to be more upright than I was.

It definitely has the Kawasaki signature sloped seat — anything under about 30mph had me crashing down into the tank with regularity. I don’t know how you guys do it.

city streets
Braking and shifting were smooth and easy. Stop lights were stress-free, as was being suddenly cut off by a soccer mom in a minivan. I had a hard time finding neutral when I stopped for gas, but it clicked into place fairly quickly after I shut off the ignition.

Speaking of the gas station, I put about 3.5 gallons in, and the trip meter read 192 miles. If that’s accurate (I didn’t fill the tank up last), that there’s some good gas mileage.

The bike definitely seemed more stable once I got up to freeway speeds (though this might be somewhat due to that sloping seat; an aftermarket comfy one might make city streets more palatable).

I was most comfortable at 70mph in about a three-quarters tuck, which surprised me as I had figured on being more upright. The windscreen and fairing are good — no bobblehead wind tunnels. Aside from my back muscles complaining about being on a different motorcycle, I could have ridden the ZX6E on the freeway all day.

I would like to point out that I could see out of the ZX6E mirrors above 6000 RPMS, thereby convincing me that Kawasaki just hates me in particular. Frickin’ Z mirrors.

other items of note
I really hate clip-ons now. I suspected this after buying my Z, and now it is confirmed.

I need to do a tune-up on this particular ZX6E. I could hear the clicking sound that other test riders have mentioned, which is definitely coming from cylinder 3 or 4 (my money’s currently on a loose valve). The bike also needs an oil change, the brake fluid swapped, and the chain cleaned.

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