Urban Junglist: A tiger-striped ZZR600 from Holland

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
Some folks feel the urge to ride a different bike every few months. Others stay true to their trusty steeds for decades. But even if you’re the monogamous type, after a few years you’ll probably get the itch to spice things up a bit.

That’s what happened with this very striking Kawasaki ZZR600 from the Netherlands. It’s owned by a lady called Gina, who bought her Ninja 16 years ago—as her first motorcycle. She felt like a change, but didn’t want to lose too much of the original design or character.

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
So she took her ZZR to 37-year-old local bike builder Michel Szozda. “I’m always up for a challenge, so I went for it,” he says.

It helps that Michel has a background in both metalworking and graphic design: “I managed to mix the two professions together by starting Cool Kid Customs in 2014.” He works with friends in Haarlem, near Amsterdam, and it sounds like he’s got his priorities right: “We build bikes, paint, design, tattoo and barbecue a lot!”

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
The ZZR600, also known as the ZX-6 Ninja, is not a typical candidate for a custom job. But it was an absolute cracker of a machine: the DOHC inline-four makes 88 horses at the rear wheel, and can propel the bike to the quarter mile in just over 11 seconds. The top speed is an impressive 153 mph.

“I like the fact that it’s not a popular bike to chop up,” says Michel. “There’s nothing to find on the web, so I could start this build with a fresh vision. I wanted to lose the whole 90s look of the ZZR600, but keep the original fairings.”

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
The ZZR600 is not a bad looker, and although swathed in plastic, carries it off better than most 80s or 90s sportbikes. “The ugliest thing for me was the mid section of the frame,” says Michel.

“But I managed to make something positive out of the negative: I based the new lines of the bike on that one part I thought was ugly.”

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
Michel has deleted the original tail section of the ZZR600 and welded in a whole new subframe—giving it the same lines as the original frame, and improving the stance. There’s also a black leather seat with a distinctive stitching pattern from Silver Machine of Amsterdam.

The new tail section now hides many of the electrics, plus a discreet box for the tiny battery—while doing double duty as a fender with integrated LED lighting.

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
Gina has looked after her Kawasaki, so the engine was strong. “The bike was maintained well and didn’t need any work,” says Michel. “So I installed a Stage 1 jet/needle kit for a smoother ride, and it runs perfect.”

To improve breathing, Michel also removed the rear part of the exhaust system and welded in a new section that fits a smaller carbon fiber silencer.

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
The top half of the bodywork is still there, but the lower cowl is gone—revealing the coolant tubes, which are now transparent rather than black. “It shows the bright green color of the coolant flowing through the engine,” says Michel. “An old trick we did way back in our moped tuning days!”

The original 90s headlight has been ditched too. A new lamp now sits behind a handmade grille, with a yellow ‘blank’ sitting alongside for visual impact.

Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs
After a chat with Gina, Michel went with glossy black tiger stripes for the ZZR600’s bodywork. The frame and other hard parts are finished in a silver powdercoat based on the original 1987 RoboCop movie—which is a custom-made matt chrome finish.

Sportbikes don’t usually get our motors running, but this one certainly does. With a hint of streetfighter style and a dark but cool livery, Gina’s ZZR600 is still be turning heads—nearly thirty years after it rolled off the factory floor.

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Kawasaki ZZR600 street fighter by Cool Kid Customs