Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a BMW S1000XR, Honda Grom and a 1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, a KTM 1050 Adventure, Yamaha MT-10, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 

 

Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

 

A CBR600 beater. That’s how Bennetts BikeSocial’s publisher Steve Rose described the 1998/1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R G1/G2 when he road-tested it back in ’98.

As someone who’s owned a 1991 Honda CBR600 FM, a 1996 CBR600 FT and a 1998 CBR600 FX – and hankers after another – when I saw a post on Facebook advertising a ZX-6R for a grand, I couldn’t resist.

 

Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

 

Going against everything I’ve ever written about buying used bikes, I messaged Simon Roots – the seller – and paid the £1,000 straight into his bank account, before picking it up a couple of weeks later in the van. I didn’t ride it. I didn’t even check it over.

I have some defence in that I’ve known Simon for a good few years and I trust him. Having said that, he’s the ex-editor of Fast Bikes magazine. I’ve seen him ride.

He promises me he didn’t treat this the same way he did test bikes.

The Kawasaki’s been in Simon’s family for 15 years and he bought it from his Mum around 2010. He planned to do a lot with it but ended up only riding it a few hundred miles; it’s been SORN in a garage for several years.

With a house move imminent in Easter 2019, he decided to sell it, but it wouldn’t start. After removing the carbs and having them sonically cleaned, it fired on the second touch. He did warn me that, while it had new discs and pads, it seemed heavy to move, though he put that down to the tyres being flat. The electrics also once had an intermittent fault that wasn’t sorted out with a replacement rectifier…

 

Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

The bike came with the original tool kit and the owner’s manual

 

1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R G2: First impressions

The bike came out of the van and straight into the garage. It runs, and it sounds great with the Pipewerx exhaust, but I know the ZX-6R hasn’t been on a dyno, so the fuelling could be lean – there were no cats in header pipes back then so all the back pressure came from a hefty end-can.

The Kawasaki went onto my Abba Sky Lift and that was when I got my first proper chance to examine it. Please don’t ever buy a motorcycle this way!

  • Off the ground, the wheels still don’t want to turn; both front and back brakes are binding.
  • The headraces feel a bit tight; I won’t mess around – I’ll swap them out, just in case Simon had been practicing his trademark wheelies.
  • The plastics are in great condition, besides a little twisting in the vinyl graphics where the screws are – typical of these bikes.
  • The fork seals are both blown.
  • The oil is a horrible dark brown colour, but given how long this has been sitting, it desperately needs a thorough service.
  • It’s got braided brake lines; great. But they’re the old ones that didn’t have a plastic cover so they’ve worn some paint away on the fork legs. They’re also fairly twisted up looking. I’ll replace them.
  • The tool kit is still under the seat.
  • The chain and sprockets look good.
  • The front wheel bearings look good but the exposed bearing in the sprocket carrier appears pretty rusty; I’ll change them.
  • The carbon-effect dip on the wheels isn’t something I’d do; I’m tempted to get the wheels powder-coated in green.
  • I love that it’s got the original indicators.
  • The paint on the pillion peg hangers is falling off and it’s bubbling on the swingarm (usual for these bikes). The rest of the paint – on the engine and frame – looks great though.
  • The fuel tank looks solid inside and out, despite sitting for so long.
  • The downpipes on these were stainless steel from new; brilliant! The mild steel pipes on my CBR600FX rotted out.
  • The front fender has been snapped on the left at some point, but the dollop of epoxy inside has held well and you can’t see the crack when it’s on the bike.
  • It’s had an alarm fitted, but it’s not there now. What is in the loom is fair bit of insulation tape and some nasty LED tail lights, only one of which works. I’ll be checking all the electrics.
  • The number plate is not only illegal, the brush-stroke typeface looks awful.

 

I haven’t ridden it, but I’ve got high hopes; despite owning a BMW S1000XR, I’ve long hankered after a 600 again; bikes like this can be fantastically exciting on the road without getting to silly speeds. There might be more traffic than there was when I bought my first motorcycle – that CBR600 FM – back in the summer of ’96 that I remember so fondly, but you’ll still likely find me on some of those old favourite back roads and roundabouts when I get this thing sorted…

 

It’s not perfect, but given its age, this ZX-6R is looking pretty good

 

Is it a good idea to buy a bike without seeing it first?

No, of course it’s not, unless you know the person well. I recently wrote about hacked eBay and Gumtree accounts, so please always see a bike in person and check it over properly. You can download a used bike buying checklist here (shame I didn’t follow my own advice).

Ultimately, I did buy this with the intention of using it to write features about DIY motorcycle maintenance, but I’ve gambled with my own money that there’s not going to be a disaster in there.

Going through all the parts I’m likely to need (besides fluids) everything’s available from Wemoto for £187.85 – that’s all the seals and bearings, as well as new spark plugs and filters. It could creep up if the calipers are really bad and need new pistons, but if that’s all it takes to get the bike sorted, I’ll be happy.

Was a grand the right price? Surprisingly, these G1/G2 models are available on eBay for anywhere between £800 and £1,200, with a few optimistic dealers looking for a bit more. Given the work that needs doing, I wouldn’t have paid more than £1,000; in fact I’d probably have bartered it down a bit as the labour time will be very significant. But I’m looking forward to the work, and given that I’m confident of the Kawasaki’s history, and it’s cosmetically pretty good, I’m happy with what I paid.

 

Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

 

What’s next for my new bike?

I love a project for the evenings and weekends; I’m lucky enough to have a garage, and being able to push the bike out of the way on that Abba stand means I can do other jobs when I need to. I’ll be writing articles on DIY maintenance for everything I do, so keep an eye on Bennetts BikeSocial and our Facebook page for what I’ve got planned so far:

  • Wheel bearing replacement
  • Headrace replacement
  • Front and rear brake caliper rebuild
  • Fork seal replacement and (possibly) shock rebuild
  • Checking and greasing / replacing swingarm and linkage bearings
  • Valve clearances
  • Carb balancing
  • Coolant change
  • Fuelling and performance on the dyno

Of course, other jobs could crop up, but I’ll keep updating this article as I go…

 

Kawasaki ZX-6R G2 (1999) | Owner review

 

1998-1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R G1/G2 spec

New price

£7,495 when new, dropping to £6,245 in 1999 due to competition from grey-imports. I paid £1,00 for this one

Capacity

599cc

Bore x Stroke

66x43.8mm

Engine layout

In-line four

Engine details

Liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke

Power

107bhp (80.8kW) @ 12,000rpm (94.5bhp rear wheel)

Torque

47 lb-ft (64Nm) @ 10,00rpm (44.2lb-ft rear wheel)

Top speed

156mph

Transmission

6 speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

41.6mpg according to Fuelly.com users. I’ll update with my figures once I get it on the road

Tank size

18 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

165 miles

Reserve capacity

3 litres

Rider aids

None

Frame

Aluminium alloy twin-spar

Front suspension

46mm right-way-up forks

Front suspension adjustment

Adjustable for rebound, compression and preload

Rear suspension

Single shock

Rear suspension adjustment

Adjustable for rebound, compression and preload

Front brake

2x 300mm discs with six-piston Tokico calipers

Rear brake

220mm disc, single-piston caliper

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

170/60 ZR17

Rake/Trail

n/a

Dimensions

n/a

Wheelbase

1,400mm

Ground clearance

n/a

Seat height

815mm

Kerb weight

202kg

Servicing

Every 4,000 miles

Website

www.kawasaki.co.uk

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance         

 

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