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.
A molded all steel tank makes putting your ass over the gas clean and comfortbale.
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 step you’ll find boxed-in aluminum plates for added strength. The bump-pad shortens seat-to-bar distance.
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.
SSB’s 2004 “Finance Free Custom” 636, found in the Nov. 2011 issue, showed what $5,000 can get you when shopping for a used bike and parts.
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.
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 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.”
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.
So is it worth the new bike price tag? “At 12 or 13,000 bucks, it’s going to be hard for a lot of the stunt guys to just go out and buy. But I have noticed about a dozen guys already setting them up and riding them, so it’s not something that is out of reach by any means,” said Britton. This bike was designed to make life on the street easier, and in turn it has endless stunt lot potential. But it isn’t the ideal choice for a newbie looking to get into the wheelie game. “As a stunt rider, this is a bike you’re going to get once you’re into it and comfortable on the bike. If you’re learning how to do wheelies, you should get on a CRF50 or a KLX110 and learn the rear brake,” Britton said.
If you thought the original 636 was good, imagine what a decade of R&D and refinement can do. Today it is a risky endeavor to pick one up for stunting unless your pockets are lined with $100 bills. But years down the road when prices drop, expect this bike to become a favorite stunt platform just as the O.G. cheater bike was. To sum it up from a guy who knows the bike better than most: “This bike will wear the crown. I’ve ridden all of the other bikes,” said Britton. “And I’m not saying that because I’m a Kawi guy. A lot of the other comparable bikes haven’t changed a lot. The R6 has been the same since 2008. The GSX-Rs haven’t changed much either. The 675 doesn’t have the rev life, and the tank-to-bar distance is really close. At the end of the day, all the bikes are tooth and nail close. But when you seek out the small advantages that you can really capitalize on, that’s what makes the difference.”
Why Not A Literbike?
If having that little bit of extra torque and low-end grunt is so beneficial to a stuntbike then why not just go all out and buy a 1000? It isn’t just because they are heavier and in turn less nimble. As Britton explains, a lot more of a good thing is not always the way to go.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to stunt a 1000. It’s a handful all the time. There is no sit back relax and just ride the bike. Teach [Chris “Teach” McNeil], for instance, is kind of the anomaly and a super talented rider, which is why he is able to do it on an S1000RR. I have a new ZX-10R stuntbike, and it’s a lot of work every time I get on it. And I’ve been riding for a long time. I used to ride 1000s back in the day, but this new breed of 1000s is just so beastly it’s ridiculous. I ride my 10R 30 percent of the time and my new 636 like 70 percent of the time,” said Britton.
The 2003–2004 636 is an acting favorite in the stunt scene for a host of new to skilled riders around the world. It hit the scene with just enough extra low-to-midrange punch over other 600s to make it very desirable for many street riders.
A decade after its introduction, used prices for the bike and replacement parts (when you can find them) have become so affordable that it is almost guaranteed you’ll see a hard-ridden example at any bike night. Here is what Britton had to say about that first- and second-generation 636 as a stuntbike:
“The powerplant is what made the original so popular. Guys wanted a 600 ‘cause the bikes were smaller and a little bit lighter. Those extra 37cc’s made a huge difference in terms of low-end grunt compared to the competition, same as what we’re seeing with today’s 636. That’s what’s really appealing. As stunt riding and its riders evolved, it’s become more common to see a 2009 front end, 2005–2006 ZX-6R swingarm and even a second gen cylinder head on the original 636. They’re changing everything about the bike except for the engine.
“What made the 2005–2006 636 undesirable as a stuntbike was the fact that it had a half plastic, half steel tank and undertail exhaust. These, I think, were big turnoffs to the guys in the stunt world. For subframe strength purposes, to have an exhaust running up under the tail gave stunters less subframe to work with, making it a more fragile part. The tank couldn’t be reshaped as easily or cleanly either. A lot of the guys had issues with that,” said Britton.
2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R (636)
Front End: Dunlop Q2 tire, Marchesini Genesi wheel, Brembo .484 custom calipers, Groove rotors and 19 RCS master cylinder 19x20, Righteous Stunt clutch lever, Full Throttle Inc. handbrake bracket, Convertibars adjustable handlebars, GPR stabilizer
Rear End: Dunlop D616 tire, Marchesini Genesi wheel, Brembo .484 custom caliper, 16x18 handbrake master cylinder, RK chain, Vortex 60 tooth rear sprocket
Engine: Graves Motorsports Link exhaust, Dynojet PC5 tuned by Graves, dual SPAL 350cfm fans
Bodywork: No Limit Motorsports custom gas tank and subframe with scrape plate, powdercoat by Specialized Powdercoating
Accessories: Motul 5.1 brake fluid and v300 5/40 oil, ODI grips and bar ends, Freestyle Ingenuity cage and subcage, Vortex rearsets and mirror block-offs, HT Moto seats and grip on upper fairing and tail section
Owner/Builder: Jason Britton, No Limit Motorsports