There's rarely a magazine comparison test completed among middle-weight sportbikes that doesn't sing the praises of Kawasaki's Ninja® ZX™-6R, a model so well attuned to its ultimate purchaser – the serious sport rider who sometimes finds themself on a local track – that one can only assume what the company's engineers and designers do with their weekends. This popular unit features ultra-aerodynamic bodywork with Ram Air, GP-style swingarm, underseat exhaust system, six-spoke wheels, petal-style disc brakes, inverted forks, and a powerful engine that accomplishes what it sets out to do. This year, Kawasaki has also added a ZX-6R “Special Edition” model to this mid-size family. To differentiate its look the “Special Edition” features Titanium Silver paint highlighted by Tribal pattern graphics and an attractive high-tech wheel finish. The streamlined look of the ZX-6R is shared with its racing-homologated sibling, the ZX-6RR. Its fairing helps to divide the air stream farther ahead of the motorcycle; by moving the “bubble” of still air farther forward in the cockpit, so the rider experiences less buffeting around the head and shoulders. The point of convergence – where the divided air streams comes together behind the rider – is critical to aerodynamic efficiency, so Kawasaki engineers designed the tail section to smoothly blend the air together while minimizing turbulence. The result is quicker roll-on acceleration and higher top speeds at the race track, as well as enhanced rider comfort and control. The body work includes a ZX-10R-style central Ram Air duct and a flush-surface LED tail light, which makes the ZX-6R more visible to drivers of other vehicles. It also features an aerodynamic ZX-10R-style front fender for a strong Ninja family resemblance. From the cockpit, the Ninja ZX-6R rider will notice several leading-edge features that put this bike at the forefront of design and performance. Foremost is the split-seam fuel tank/airbox cover. The rear half is the actual fuel tank, designed to fit neatly between the frame spars and down behind the engine's fuel injection system, while the front half covers a quick-access air box. By centralizing the fuel mass near the center of the bike, chassis responsiveness is enhanced – weight transfers from turn to turn are lighter, and the chassis is exceptionally stable under acceleration and braking. The advanced split-seam design also enabled engineers to make the airbox larger, thus enhancing engine performance. It also makes filter access quick and easy. Plus, a depression in the top of the fuel tank enables the rider to tuck in for improved aerodynamics. The final tribute to aerodynamic efficiency is the under-seat muffler, which gives the Ninja ZX-6R a slim, racy look. Exhilarating Power and Performance No sportbike can garner mass approval on good looks alone, and here again, the Ninja ZX-6R sets standards of performance for the middle-weight class. For that, the engine includes a fuel injection system with 38mm oval-shaped sub-throttle valves fed by twin injectors and Ram Air. The Ninja ZX-6R utilizes oval-shaped sub-throttle technology. Combined with the Ram Air design, the oval-shaped throttle bodies increase airflow without making the fuel delivery assembly wider – for maximum intake efficiency while helping to maintain a slim chassis profile. Large intake and exhaust valves, optimum cam profiles and an exhaust valve integrated with the muffler provide exceptional low and mid-range response of the 636cc engine. Also, the 32-bit engine control unit has sufficient memory for controlling the exhaust valve and second set of fuel injectors. The Ninja ZX-6R features a durable, smooth-shifting six-speed transmission, and also utilizes a back-torque limiting clutch, which helps to reduce rear-wheel hop that may occur when downshifting a high-rpm. Chassis Features The matte-black aluminum frame features a short wheelbase combined with a long, braced aluminum swingarm, to give the Ninja ZX-6R superb cornering performance and high-speed stability. The fully adjustable Showa fork delivers excellent ride quality and outstanding cornering performance. At the rear, the UNI-TRAK® linkage ratios provide linear action, and the shock settings further enhance ride quality and track performance. Radial-mounted, four-piston front brake calipers deliver exceptional feel and performance; four independent brake pads are used – one for each piston – for more even wear and improved heat resistance. The 300mm petal-style front discs are 5.5mm thick for high heat capacity and the front brake master cylinder uses direct action for better rider feedback. Also, the caliper for the 220mm rear disc brake mounts directly to the swingarm, negating the need for an independent brake tie-rod. The Ninja ZX-6R rides on light, six-spoke wheels shod with 120/65ZR17 front and 180/55ZR17 rear tires for exceptional cornering performance. The Cockpit The riding position is also based on the Ninja ZX-10R. By pulling back the steering head assembly, the distance between the handlebars and footpegs is reduced, which provides the rider with an idealized position for performance riding. Combined with the frame dimensions, seat and fuel tank, the rider sits “in” the bike, rather than “on” it. The Ninja ZX-6R's racing-style instrument panel features a bar-type LCD tachometer, digital LCD speedometer, stopwatch-style lap timer and adjustable shift indicator lamp, which includes Off, Low and Bright settings. A digital temperature gauge, clock and tripmeter are also included.