Despite what you may have heard, the supersport class is not completely dead, as Motorcycle.com can confirm that an updated Kawasaki ZX-6R is coming for 2019. We can also confirm the new 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R will be announced (at least, for the U.S.) on Oct. 11, which happens to be the first media day at the 2018 AIMExpo show.
The information comes to us via 2019 model information submitted by Kawasaki to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most recent document was dated Aug. 1, updating the previous filing made on May 24. The only change made was the addition of information for the Ninja ZX-6R. The document confirms the ZX-6R will continue to be powered by a 636cc four-cylinder engine, but the listed net brake horsepower sees a slight dip from the 2018 model’s 129.3 hp to 127.4 hp.
The filing also includes a note to NHTSA requesting the document not be released until the embargo lift date of Oct. 11, 2018. Needless to say, NHTSA either didn’t notice or disregarded the request and released the document. Seeing as how the 2019 ZX-6R was the only change being embargoed, it is clear that an official announcement was planned for that date, likely at AIMExpo. This doesn’t entirely rule out an earlier reveal, say, at Intermot on Oct. 2, but it does suggest that the U.S. announcement is planned for the 11th.
Further confirmation comes via the California Air Resources Board which has certified the Ninja ZX-6R for 2019. According to the CARB executive order, the 2019 ZX-6R receives a new three-way catalyst and Ho2S (heated oxygen sensor).
As a result, the certified exhaust emissions for the 2019 model are lower than for 2018, with hydrocarbon (HC) emissions dropping to 0.2 g/km from 0.3 g/km. Certified HC+NOx (hydrocarbon plus nitrogen oxide) levels decreased from 0.4 g/km to 0.2 g/km, while carbon monoxide (CO) emission went from 2 g/km to 1 g/km.
Unfortunately, neither the NHTSA filing or the CARB executive order tells us any other information about the 2019 ZX-6R. It’s altogether possible the only thing that has changed are the emissions measures and the resulting dip in power. More likely there will be other changes too, such as a TFT display or design cues resembling the ZX-10R or H2.
There was a time that manufacturers released a new 600cc sportbike every few years. Shifting economics, consumer habits and emissions controls, however, have cooled off the once popular supersport segment.
Honda has reportedly given up on offering the CBR600RR in Europe, where it does not meet Euro 4 requirements, and Triumph has quietly said goodbye to the Daytona 675 (while playing coy about whether the 765cc Street Triple engine being pressed into Moto2 duties will power a new Daytona). Yamaha continues to support the YZF-R6, updating it in 2017, and now it looks like it’ll be joined by a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.