You’ve seen the road tests and heard assorted motojournos reel off why the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R 636 is an exceptional streetbike. But these write-ups have forgotten to rate one important category: stunting. This bike was not designed for a racetrack even though it’ll rip it up there. It is at home on the street. But it does have a long history of helping riders win competitions; competitions that involve circle wheelies, smoking drifts, ridiculous stoppies and all-out on-bike acrobatics.
Spend any time around the stunt scene and the chances of seeing a stripped, caged and hard-ridden 2003–2004 636 are higher than Dr. Dre at his Detox album release party. Its solid frame, light weight and extra cc’s made it torquey and agile—the perfect formula for lifting the rubber off the road. Not to mention that today’s used price for a first gen 636 is dirt-cheap making it a readily available option for aspiring wheelie artists. With the release of the 2013 636, we had to find out if it too would go down in history as a Hall of Fame stuntbike platform.
Currently, few regular riders can cough up the coin for an $11,699 stunt ride. So we reached out to a factory-sponsored rider who has already begun conducting parking lot R&D on a new and modified 636. His name is Jason Britton, one of the most recognizable riders within the wheelie world. When it’s all said and done, is the latest 636 all it’s cracked up to be on this wild end of the sportbike spectrum? We think so, but we’ll let the man with the seat time do most of the talking as to why.
“From 2009 into 2012, I was riding the ZX-6R. That bike is pretty stout. So getting onto the 2013 636, I immediately noticed that the ergos are sort of in the exact same spot, which is a good thing, and that extra power punch guys complained about the past bike not having. Even in stock form with stock gearing I could clutch it up, do circle wheelies, stall and clutch out because it has so much low-end grunt. The past ZX-6R doesn’t have quite that power. You really have to finesse its clutch to clutch out of things, and you have to slip the clutch to keep the bike from stalling out in some instances,” said Britton.
Steeping the rake angle by what sounds like a small .5mm from the 2012 made a big difference on the pro stunt side of things. “The steeper rake from the previous model makes the bike a little bit quicker for the flatland stuff like the hops and the shuffles, which is a huge benefit,” said Britton. “It’s really good for stoppies as well. It comes right up to balance point quickly and it’s easy to modulate it once you are in that zone.”
The electronic evolution we’re seeing with today’s bikes is evident in the feature list of the latest 636. And that, on the surface, seems more like a hindrance than help when talking stunt. Stoppie-killing ABS and power modes are worthless for this type of riding, but Britton thinks there may be some benefit to the traction control (TC) in a stunt situation. “On my bike I completely dove into the computer and disabled TC for R&D purposes, so less stuff is floating around to deal with. One thing I have to work out is a handbrake bracket that has a location for the TC. Then I can go from there and start utilizing that. Maybe for rainy shows or for cases where it might be helpful, like if clutching up a highchair wheelie in the rain. But I don’t know yet,” Britton said.
Double the loop-out defense...
Double the loop-out defense is what you see here. The rear Brembo handbrake caliper and two-piston footbrake caliper give two avenues of supreme rear brake control depending on where you are on the bike.
While the bike may perform well stock, you’ll be hard pressed to find showroom specials being circled in a parking lot. Soon after receiving the 2013 middleweight, Britton went to work modifying it. “I’ve added Marchesini 7-spoke forged aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes, a stabilizer, Convertibars, I did a custom subframe on it and Vortex rearsets so I can pretty much put things exactly where I want them to be at this point. From the tank to the rear seat is a long distance. So when you’re going to do something like no-handed circles, it’s kind of tough since you are so far back you can barely reach the bars as you are letting go. So with HT Moto I put like a racer bump on the passenger seat to push it forward and better lock you in. The rear seat also utilizes hard foam so you can use the bump as a step or if you flip a stoppie it’s better to get hit by that thicker foam than the scrape bar on the tail,” said Britton.
Starting from the front of the bike, you will find a complete Brembo package of rotors, calipers and master cylinder for added feedback and feel. “For me there is nothing better than this Brembo setup in terms of feel and predictability when you’re really up high on stoppies or modulating the brakes. And with the Dunlop tires, the feel between the lever, the rubber and the ground is incredible,” said Britton. Next you’ll notice the HT Moto grip pads outlining the headlight to help steer 50-50 or highchair wheelies. Adding further stoppie stability is a GPR stabilizer.
The days of hammer-dented tanks are gone. Britton placed his own No Limit Motorsports tank treatment on the 636’s steel design cutting and welded a new lid onto it with a hideaway gas cap for smooth style and an ideal bed for tank tricks. Farther to the rear is a No Limit tail saving package. Boxed-in aluminum plating reinforces the subframe, and a tail scrape bar rotates or flips over for increased wear life.
A molded all steel tank makes...
A molded all steel tank makes putting your ass over the gas clean and comfortbale.
The stock clutch is light...
The stock clutch is light but an easy-pull Righteous Stunt Clutch makes life easier when you’re spending the day lifting wheelies and clutching out of combos.
Within the passenger seat...
Within the passenger seat step you’ll find boxed-in aluminum plates for added strength. The bump-pad shortens seat-to-bar distance.
A bike designed to be ridden hard gets hot quick. So dual SPAL 350cfm fans were added to keep the bike cool during a long session in the lot. Protecting the investment is a Freestyle Ingenuity crash cage. “It’s very simple and is not all in your business, which is why I like it,” said Britton. “Along with the subcage, they both add a lot of stability and crash protection.”
The new Graves Link slip-on...
The new Graves Link slip-on is designed to be “linked” to a full system whenever the rider has the money to get an all-out exhaust.
Like any professional, Britton makes his craft look easy and it’s not. Aiding his extreme slow-speed skills is a Vortex 60-tooth rear sprocket tied up by an RK chain. Not just for sound and a mild power upgrade, a new Graves Link slip-on exhaust streamlines the side. This slip-on system is designed to be “linked” to a full system when the rider has the cash for headers and a connecting pipe. There is a reason why Britton didn’t go all out with the full setup. “Doing bunny hops compresses the suspension and can smash the header piping into the ground. Full titanium headers would then be in jeopardy of being dented. The stock header is so durable that bunny hopping doesn’t really damage it,” said Britton. Graves did however take some time on the dyno to smooth out bumps and valleys in the power curve via a Dynojet PC5. The result? “Honestly it feels like a 1000 down low due to my 60 tooth rear sprocket,” Britton adds.
Keeping this newfound power to the pavement is an all-weather Dunlop D616 rear tire. “This tire gives you two to three times the life of a Q2 but with a really consistent feel for drifting, circles and all of it. The tread pattern makes it consistent on all kinds of pavements and weather too,” Britton said.