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Kawa's '09 range: Info, pics

2008-10-17 08:14
It was Lotus' F1 champ Colin Chapman who said, "Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere." With the latest version of the ZX-6R Kawasaki seems to have taken his words to heart – shaving 10kg off the latest model.

After winning the Daytona 200 in the USA with the ZX-6R in both 2007 and 2008, Kawasaki has thoroughly revamped the ZX-6R for 2009, claiming a boost in mid range torque, improving mass centralisation and, most importantly, sending the bike on a diet. Good news indeed.

First time forks

Something else to get excited about is the first ever production use of Showa’s BPF (Big Piston) front fork. Compared with a cartridge-type fork of the same size, the BPF features a main piston almost twice the diameter (37mm vs. 20mm).

The aim of all this is greater control as the fork begins to compress, and more stability as the bike’s weight shifts forward under braking.  Because many of the components used in a conventional cartridge fork are eliminated, the forks are also lighter than before.

One of the goals Kawasaki set for the 2009 ZX-6R was to give the motorcycle nimbler handling without sacrificing its mid-corner stability or ability to change line on demand.

To achieve this, frame rigidity was revised and steps taken to further centralise the mass. While the main frame remains largely unaltered, rigidity around the swingarm pivot and rear engine mounts has been increased. The engine has been rotated around the output shaft, giving a steeper cylinder bank angle and thus raising the centre of gravity by 16mm and the exhaust mounting by 10mm.  

A new exhaust layout with a pre-chamber under the motor allows the short silencer, which is now side mounted, to also contribute to further mass centralisation. This all results in quicker turning and sharper handling, which is good news for brisk road riding, and spot-on track performance.

Honed for perfection
There are plenty other elements that Kawasaki is hoping will make the ZX-6R an even better tool for road and track. There’s the close-ratio cassette transmission that allows for speedy individual gear ratio changes to suit each circuit, the slipper clutch to prevent wheel hop during heavy braking, and the triple petal large diameter brake system with radial mount callipers and radial-pump front master cylinder.

The ergonomics package was also revised to enhance feedback to the rider and the new fuel tank and seat will give the rider more contact with his machine and accordingly also improve feedback.

In the engine room, Kawasaki has focused on delivering improved throttle control and increasing performance, particularly in the midrange. Revised cylinder head porting, longer throttle bodies, redesigned intake funnels and cylindrical guides added to the top of the air filter housing ensure more controlled power delivery, more midrange grunt and smoother airflow to the engine.

All of this should give the rider the welcome feeling that his throttle hand is connected directly to the rear wheel, with greater drive out of the corners. New cams, pistons and tappets, along with low-friction engine internal coatings and low-tension piston rings as well as revised camchain guides reduce mechanical losses and improve overall engine performance according to Kawasaki.

Given the diet treatment

Much of the 10 kg weight saving enjoyed by the ’09 Kawasaki ZX-6R was achieved in the engine. The camshafts alone – now made from durable and high-strength SCM – save 400g, and lightweight magnesium engine covers help the Kawasaki shed a further 610g for example.

Other updates for 2009 include a new, slimmer rear sub-frame, lighter material for the throttle case, a lightweight rear flap stay, and a new fairing designed for greater aerodynamic efficiency.

The new Kawasaki ZX-6R will arrive in South Africa early in 2009, at which time the price will also be confirmed.

Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

Kawasaki's first full-dress V-Twin tourer, and one of the sleekest around, ticks all the right boxes in the luxury and performance departments that any long-distance traveller could ask for. As one would expect from the company’s flagship freeway-cruiser-meet-boulevard-prowler, the Voyager also shows great attention to detail and top-notch build quality.

Standard features include a large front cowling and screen, leg shields, ample storage in a top-mounted trunk, hard side panniers, and dual gloveboxes.

Some of the hi-tech perks include a six speed transmission with an overdrive top gear, intelligent linked front and rear brakes with ABS, cruise-control, and Kawasaki's first ever fully electronic throttle valve fly-by-wire system as well as the compulsory classy audio system (which is compatible with your iPod).

The long-stroke liquid-cooled V-Twin is housed in a compact chassis designed to keep weight down and improve manoeuvrability.

The Voyager’s massive engine (based upon that of the VN2000) is a SOHC unit with 15% more torque than the outgoing VN1600 unit. Torque is delivered to the rear wheel via a slim and light carbon fibre belt that’s 30% narrower and 40% stronger than the commonly used Kevlar version.

Although the new 1,7 litre Kawasaki is a big machine, it’s blessed with a shorter wheelbase than the earlier 1,6 and two litre cruisers bearing the nameplate. To ensure that you don’t waste valuable cruising time by constantly filling up, the Voyager comes with a sizeable 20-litre fuel tank. Dual adjustable air-shocks at the rear, and passenger floorboards, both contribute to long-distance comfort irrespective of the road conditions and load status of the bike.

Kawasaki ER-6n, ER-6f and Versys 650cc twins

Kawasaki's very popular mid-weight machines have been given proper attention for 2009 without losing their individualistic sense of styling. All three bikes have been subtly reworked for even better performance and comfort, with new plastics, fettled engines, and improved handling and lighting.   

Kawasaki KX250F and KX450F

Both of these motocross 'Kwakkers' are slimmer, lighter and quicker for 2009 with a number of engine and chassis improvements.

New frames, swing-arms, transmissions, cooling systems, crankshafts, pistons and cylinder heads are part of the packages developed through experience gained in top-level racing in Europe and the USA.

For the new model year, the KX450F has also gained electronic fuel injection, a battery-free system designed from the ground up for motocross applications.

Check back to Wheels24 for more details on these models as they are launched locally.

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