I'd send the forks to Dan Kyle and get an Ohlins shock. Reworking the stock shock is throwing money away.
Kyle can machine the fork internals to increase travel which helps greatly. I love the work Kyle has done to my race bike (ZX-6RR). The best exhaust I have seen, power and quality wise, for the ZX-6R is the Arata full Titanium system. Dan sell that too. He also has great prices on PCIIIusb's and has custom maps for the ZX-6R and the Arata system.
Last Friday (June 20) I had an interesting trackday with my near-new (600 miles) 2003 ZX-6R at Pacific Raceways (formerly Seattle International Raceway) in Auburn, Washington. I volunteered as a rider for a charity held concurrently with the A.F. track day, the Seattle 100: Racing Towards a Cure for Kidney Disease. We raised quite a bit of money and I rode more than 100 laps, usually two out of every three sessions all day.
Well, the event went very well, but that’s another story. More of interest might be my impressions of the ZX-6R. I hadn’t ridden the bike other than a 10 mile street ride prior to the track event.
Background: I’m 35 and the ZX is my thirteenth motorcycle (unlucky?) Somehow I survived many squidly years on the street in my teens and early twenties. In 1993 a good pal took me to track school, completely changing my outlook on “riding fast.”
After ten years of 1-2 schools/trackdays per year, I bought the ZX to totally relearn fast track riding skills I’d let slide the past six years or so. These problems were exacerbated by riding my Aprilia Mille on the track (lots of torque but difficult for me to ride fast; not sure why). I started a heavy exercise/endurance regimen a couple months ago. So far so good.
I’m a B Group type rider, about to graduate back to A Group.
Following are my seat-of-pants, non-scientific observations. With the caveats listed above (age, experience, typical pace), read on:
2003 ZX Pros:
• The bike’s 750-fast compared to mid-90s Gixxers and ZX-7s. Understand I’ve been away from modern 600s many years so this susprised me. (My ’95 Gixxer weighed 480 lbs full of gas and made a dyno’d 108 rwhp.)
• I swear I pulled 143 mph on the front straight heading into Turn 1 (at Pacific Raceways), lap after lap, faster than I ever did on my Aprilia Mille. I found this absurdly fast for a 600, and a real bite in the rear.
• Literbikes pulled me from the hole, but I usually caught and often passed them on the straight due to a willingness to dive into the first big turn, Turn 2, much harder on the brakes. Beware modern 600s : these things are no-B.S. and if properly ridden will pester the big bikes to no end.
• I think the ram air on the ZX is sucking like mad above 130mph because it continues to accelerate in 6th fairly hard, very odd for a “600” (636, actually).
• To go fast, the bikes quickly comes on the boil and encourages you to stay there (11-13K RPM roughly). This does not seem to strain the bike or engine: that’s where it wants to be.
• The value of suburb brakes and suspension cannot be overemphasized. I did a lot of 125 to 45mph slowdowns, lap after lap, which the radial calipers handled without issue. I could not upset the chassis or suspension.
• I’m digging the blinking shift light. Easy to see, tucked in the bubble.
• I hope to never own another non-fuel injected bike. This one is spot-on.
• The bike’s easy to ride and non intimidating. I started cautiously and by mid-afternoon increased to ten seconds off the race guy’s average pace. I’m tremendously pleased with my progress, but have a ways to go.
• I am a convert to the concept of light weight and stellar handling over brute power. I had no traction issues the whole day: with 105 hp and race rubber, spinning the wheel just didn’t happen. Yet it drove great out of turns, assuming I was in the proper part of the power (7K and above, roughly).
• 3-4-5 gears are close-ratio. I’d read about this but hadn’t experienced it first hand. It’s very nice in the twisties, since you can pick amongst a couple gears depending on the situation. Interesting.
• The ZX does not push the front wheel under braking while diving into a turn. Granted, it likes braking plus dropping gears as little as any bike. The bike also does not hop between Turns 4 and 5 while downshifting (funny little hill between these turns). I’m assuming all this is due to the light weight.
• Small bikes let you pick and choose your line. That’s worth a lot.
• The bike needs a steering damper. The track testers at Roadracing World mentioned this in their test. I needed an outing to realize it, too. I had a near-tankslapper, but it recovered well enough. The pavement’s rather wonky at P.R. in certain sections.
• A pipe wouldn’t hurt. The bike sounds rather strangled with the stock pipe.
• Suspension compression is a little harsh, even with my bulk (230 lbs). In smooth sections, it sails. On bumps, it bangs a bit. I read the harshness cannot easily be adjusted out. If it becomes a problem, I’ll send both ends to Traxxion Dynamics.
• 600s are not necessarily only for little guys. I rode it fine and fairly fast. If that seems odd, to be honest it surprised me as well.
• The riding position was great for me on the track, at 5’11”, but might be hell on the street.
I’ve gotten fat and lazy on high-horsepower, 490 lb+ bikes the past few years. I did not realize this was happening. Large bikes encourage bad habits by providing easy acceleration on the street. Small bikes force you to re-think gearing, lines, etc. to maximize cornering speed.
I look forward to more track fun this summer, and may be compelled to sell the Aprilia (can’t believe I’m saying that…)
Mill Creek, WA U.S.A.
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