Good review bro,
I agree on a lot of what you said, especially about the suspension and brakes. I get the same headshake and bounciness in my susp. as you did.
Also hearing how it kept up with those big boy bikes is very impressive. Great review.
A few details - I am 6'0" 198lbs. I have been riding street for 15 or so years. I have limited track experience however I have a lot of mountain and desert riding under my belt. The bike is also completely stock except for flush mount signals and a custom fender eliminator. I run Castrol GTX and I think I am going to stick with dyno oil as I change the oil every 1500 miles and filter every 3K
I am by no means an expert but I will try to explain from my perspective as best I can.:
When I first started riding the twisties the suspension was bouncy in the rear. I also noticed some head shake on rougher roads or when accelerating on a rough exit. I tweaked and played with the settings and finally came up with:
Front: Preload--- 8 lines showing
Rebound--- 6 clicks
Compression-- 10 clicks
Rear: Preload--- 8.1mm thread showing above the collar
Rebound--- 6 turns out from fully in
Compression-- 6 turns out from fully in
This resulted in a more stable front end and not as much rear bounce at speed over rougher pavement. The bike felt much more stable under acceleration out of a turn, my transitions felt more in control, and the bike retained the sharp "turnability" on entrance. It seems to just want to fall over with ease in turns and I have not experienced anything but minor headshake on rough road, which I have no problem with. It also allowed me to slide out the rear more comfortably without the spongy feeling I got before. When I pick my line this bike sticks to it effortlessly. It just felt planted. My exits are much smoother and I couldn't be happier.
The engine started off a little rough. Some vibration early on and a slightly noticeable hesitation around 3-4K. The engine sound has grown louder and meaner, the hesitation is there but barely noticeable and it powers through all gears. Roll-ons from any gear have no dead spots and it is quick off the line. I am surprised by the mid -range power; it is just there with authority that is all I can say. The top end is what surprised me. I was riding with an RC-51, 954, Gixxer-750, few f4's, hayabusa, and Duc 748 and we came to a 4-mile straight. Obviously the liter bikes got up and went (the hayabusa just went!!) but I kept right on the Gixxer. The Duc was a little ahead of us and I was very surprised when I walked him at top end speed. The bike kept the big boys in view (sort of) and I was surely impressed by the way it left the F4i's and Duc behind. Downshifts were smooth and the engine transitioned well during downshift at high speed before turn entrances. Power delivery on exits is smooth and consistent. I have brought the front end up on exit due to the torque and power. I have wheelied it a couple of times just because but wheelies are not my style I am more of a buy for what it was built for twisty man so I can't comment on stand-ups and posing crap like that.
The bike is extremely light (weighed in at 417.8 wet). It took me some time to get used to the increased weight on my wrists and higher peg locations. This grows on you however. My wrists and hands were numb the first couple of hundred miles but I eventually got used to it. Having long legs has helped as I can rest my throttle arm on my knee without having to make major adjustments. This also helps in turns as I don't have to bring my arms in, they are already there which leaves me time to focus on my body position and the "leg triangle" (don't know how else to describe it) I recently did a 330 mile trip through the AZ mountains and my throttle hand was tired and got numb a few times on long straights but when in the twisties working throttle and front brake I didn't even feel a thing. I was surprisingly not sore at all and I actually felt good after the ride. I do however stretch out my legs back neck and wrists properly before each ride. This bike fits me very well and while it is an aggressive stance and I could use more comfort, I bought it to carve corners not ride straights and pose so I will take the good with the bad.
The brakes are extremely powerful and provide more than enough stopping power although I have noticed a small drop-off since the first 1500 miles. These are the most powerful brakes I have ever had on a bike. They are definitely providing even stopping power and respond extremely well to my brake inputs.
1. The instrument panel could have been thought out better. It is great to have a one-look panel but they should have put in a blackout or tinted windscreen stock because the tach is hard to read in the sun sometimes and I cannot see the shift light (which I really don't use) and the low fuel light. The tach is also tight and hard to really read precisely due to the digital look. I would rather have a needle tach. I will have to get a tinted or blackout screen soon
2. I am getting 38-40 MPG out of the 4.8 Gallon tank running 91 octane
3. The rear solo cowl does not have the same attachment design as the rear seat so it is a little "unsecured" and needs to be double checked to prevent loss (A few other owners have lost theirs)
4. The new fairing connectors are crap and there are nutserts where there shouldn’t be in some spots.
5. Neutral is a little tricky but once you get a feel for it your ok. Forget finding neural while coming to a rolling stop. It’s a Kawasaki thing I am getting used to it.
6. I like the feel of the new Bridgestone’s as opposed to the Dunlop’s they are a good multipurpose tire and they feel good at full lean (my full lean may be different from yours)
One year later and I still feel the same way. No long term problems at all. I did however switch to Mobil one at 5k as I got a good deal on 30 gallons of the stuff. I went to a local suspension setup party and dialed in the suspension and it is even better now. The bike is still stock except for some flushmounts and a fender eliminator and some sliders. I would buy another one in a heart beat.
I agree on almost everything you wrote about the bike, especially the tach and low fuel light. I dont know how many times I was out and noticed, almost too late, the low fuel light was on. The shift light on yamahas are almost an inch big, so kawis dinky one is surprising.
I have had great luck with all of the fairing connectors thus far(3400 miles and tons of tear downs). knock on wood.I can recommend some SS brake lines to restore the consistent feel.
Here I am 2 years later and the bike is still going strong. I am now on a set of Pirelli Diablo's which I think will continue to be my tire of choice in the futire. Tires have been my only cost since I purchased the bike in March of 03 besides oil and filters and a can of chain lube.
I have since switched to water wetter and it runs about 7-10 degrees cooler which is good in the hot arizona climate.
I have had no maintenance issues with my bike at all.The tach is now a non factor because I am used to the sound of the engine for my shift points. The bike is still running strong. I have continued to dial in the suspension and I have had no major headshake or tankslapper issues in the three years I have been hitting the az canyons. Just a few slight headshakes on rough roads but some suspension tweaking has since corrected this. The bike is still completely stock save for the frame sliders and flushmounts and fender eliminator.
I have used the bike as a daily driver and a canyon carver. With all the bikes I have owned over the years this is definitely the most fun to ride.
My only plans now are to get a pc3 and an M4 titanium pipe and do a remap to get rid of the slight dead spot around 3500-4K. I am also definitely looking at upgrading the front and rear shocks to ohlin components. Also maybe a scotts damper for added front stability and some steel brained brake lines for increased braking.
The best thing you can do to improve the handling of an 03 zx6 is to change the front tyre to a 70 profile instead of the stock 65. Nearly all other sports bikes use this tyre profile and the feel you get from the front when youre cranked right over is 100% better I promise you
Didnt make any other mods at all, I ride fast(ish) road and and track the 65 is meant to speed up the steering but if you run a sharp tyre (I use dunlop 208rr) then it doesnt really have any noticable affect.
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