By Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor

No Replacement for Displacement

Kawasaki touted its new and improved 2013 636cc-powered Ninja ZX-6R as offering better real world engine performance for both street and track riders alike. And while the motor certainly felt punchier during our initial test ride at Thunderhill Raceway Park last fall, we were surprised by how much of a difference those 37 extra cc’s equal after strapping it onto our dyno.


In terms of measured engine torque, the 636 shows an advantage from just over 6,000 revs. The torque curve broadens, surpassing the conventional 599cc engine’s peak at 9,800 rpm, and continues to generate power through 11,400 rpm. Although the 636’s peak output is only 3.75 lb-ft more, the graph shows the mid-range advantage right where a rider needs it the most.


The previous iterations of Kawasaki’s 599cc Inline Four always impressed on the dyno, but the new mill reaches even loftier heights. The 2013 Ninja is the most powerful ZX-6R we’ve ever tested, generating just north of 114 horsepower at 13,500 rpm. Compared to the short-stroke version, it’s over seven peak ponies stronger, arriving at 500 rpm earlier in the range. Looking at the horsepower curve demonstrates the engine’s added brawn with it surpassing its prior output from as low as 6,000 rpm.

Although priced atop the 600cc class, if you’re a performance maven it’s hard to argue against the added muscle without having to purchase engine hop-up parts or exhaust systems, thereby saving you some cash in the long run.