Is a New Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Coming for the 2022 Model Year?

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Tomorrow, Kawasaki will debut five new motorcycle models (along with a new Jet Ski). Then next month, for the EICMA show, Kawasaki has three more motorcycle debuts on its docket.

A busy timeline for Team Green, this news makes for a double-punch of new motorcycle models from Kawasaki for the 2022 model year, but we are not complaining.

Speculation is rife on what these eight machines could be, and we can discern a little bit of what categories will get new entries based on their exposed front wheels.

A dirt bike looks certain, and a dual-sport model or two seem on the order as well. We also see what looks to be a sport bike, along with another street bike.

What really catches our eye though isn’t a front wheel….it’s an exhaust canister.

The model in question is in the back row – the bikes set for an EICMA debut – and the configuration tips off a supersport model is in the works.

With the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R getting an update just last year (not to mention using a different exhaust design in its underbelly), it would seem unlikely that Team Green is looking to update its 1,000cc bike so soon.

The only hedge to that statement is the current state of KRT in the WorldSBK Championship, which has seen the dominance of Jonathan Rea come under considerable threat from Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – and to a lesser extent, Scott Redding.

Kawasaki could bring some updates to the ZX-10RR to address some of KRT’s desires for 2022, but internet musings are suggesting a ZX-6R is in the cards instead.

If true, that would be a big announcement from the Japanese brand, as all of its competitors in the market have let their 600cc bikes succumb to the passing of time…and the Euro5 regulations.

Outside of Europe, Kawasaki still offers the ZX-6R in the United States (Suzuki offers the GSX-R600 here as well, and Yamaha also offers the YZF-R6 as as a track model).

An EICMA debut would mean a European model for the ZX-6R, which would buck the trend, and could offer a new generation of 600cc bikes for our friends across the pond.

Helping fuel this rumor is the changing WorldSSP rules for next year, which could create some incentives for manufacturers to get back into the 600cc space.

The converse to those positive vibrations is the simple fact that making the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R compliant for Euro5 regulations is a costly undertaking, especially for a dwindling segment.

To keep this thought-experiment going though, being the only Japanese manufacturer in the space with a new bike, could be a big payday for the folks at Kawasaki. Chewy.

For more fuel to the fire, the Kawasaki website in the USA lists a ZX-6R already as a US model, as well as the ZX-10R. Noticeably absent however is a ZX-10RR. We may have just gone full circle in our analysis, or could it be simply that the ZX-6R is finally coming back to Europe? Time will tell.

Still, there are other bikes we could expect to see instead. The rumored Kawasaki Ninja 700 could be waiting for us in the 2022 model year – a 700cc parallel-twin bike that would be ideal for lightweight racing and replace the Ninja 650.

A new Ninja 400 could also be possible, as the small-displacement machine debuted four years ago, and could be ready for an upgrade. 

Whatever the case may be, with eight bikes coming for next year, there is surely going to be something to get Kawasaki fans excited. We’ll know the names of the first batch in just a few hours’ time.

Photo: Kawasaki USA