PH2 ridden: 2012 Kawasaki ER-6n


Kawasaki's ER-6n is certainly a strange looking beast. Originally launched in 2006 this distinctive middleweight has steadily won an army of fans thanks to its easy-going nature and decent handling. Despite some rather unusual styling choices on early models (yes, we are talking pink frames here) Kawasaki's insistence on brash colours has continued to make ER-6n stand out from the rather plain ranks of naked Japanese middleweight bikes.

2012 brings a model year update that, though ostensibly subtle, addresses a number of quibbles with previous versions.


What's new?
The most obvious change is the frame. Where the 2011 bike's frame tubes ran around the engine on the 2012 model they don't. Instead a new perimeter-style frame allows the engine to hang unsupported from the side. To go with this new frame is a redesigned subframe that is narrower to help vertically-challenged riders reach the ground and an altered fuel tank that is 20mm taller and slightly shorter, bringing the rider closer to the front of the bike.

On the styling side the seat becomes a split unit with the pillion and rider now separated. Other changes include a set of clocks that are now actually readable, which is a bonus. Kawasaki claims a few modifications to the motor's character too but these are down to little more than a new exhaust and air filter rather than any fundamental component changes.

Little bike, big heart
It's very hard not to enjoy riding the ER-6n. The 649cc parallel twin is a beautiful little motor that thumps along with a lazy nature and a pleasant burbling exhaust note. Many equivalent in-line four-cylinder middleweights lack bottom end but the R has stacks of easily exploited grunt that can be enjoyed in a relaxed and non-intimidating fashion.

So the changes to the engine over the 2011 bike are negligible but that's no bad thing, the biggest improvement over previous ER-6 models being the instruments. Not that this was the most difficult task, the jumble of letters and numbers on the 2011 bike's clocks so unintelligible spilling a can of alphabetti spaghetti on the dash would have been a marked improvement.


Handling
The ER-6n has always felt light to ride, helped by a low centre of gravity. At slow speeds this makes the Kawasaki very agile and nimble, making it excellent through town and reassuring for newer riders while proving surprisingly sporty when the pace increases. There are slightly faster steering middleweight bikes on the market but the ER-6n is no slouch and, though it can feel a bit light on its springs through fast corners, is very good at speed.

Suspension is often the first area to feel the pressure of hitting the necessary price point. And while the ER-6n has limited adjustability - rear spring preload is your lot - it seems to respond well and doesn't have the bouncy quality that lets down other budget conscious rivals.

Worth the cash?
For those looking for a 'first big bike' or just a hassle-free commuter you could do a lot worse than the ER. The motor is excellent, the handling sporty without being frisky and the riding position is very comfortable.

The distinctive looks and brash colours are appealing and the changes for 2012 are welcome. Details like moving the indicators away from inside the fairing (the first part to touch down when the bike is dropped), the clear clocks and the lowered seat height make this ideal for newer riders and the chassis is more than good enough for those with more experience.

At £5,799 it is on the money when it comes to the competition and with the option of the faired ER-6f (£5,999) or even the Versys (£6,549) there is certainly an ER for anyone.





2012 Kawasaki ER-6n
Engine:
649cc 2-cyl
Power: 72hp@8,500rpm
Torque: 47ft lb@7,000rpm
Top speed: 130mph (est)
Weight: 204kg
MPG: 45 (est)
Price: £5,799

 

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Comments (18) Join the discussion on the forum

  • stormyluke 17 Feb 2012

    Awesome fun little bikes, engine has loads of go, rides pretty well, was very impressed with it when i rode an older model

  • sprinter1050 16 Feb 2012

    Good fun bike.
    It's time I took wifey's one out for a spin which I haven't done since I gave it to her in 09.
    ( maybe because I don't like leaving my ST1050 behind ?smile )

  • MrGeoff 16 Feb 2012

    Mr Gear said:
    It's a con... but then you knew that already.
    Don't we just, 'green' taxes eh.

  • Mr Gear 16 Feb 2012

    MrGeoff said:
    ZesPak said:
    Tbh I don't know how the legislation is on fuel economy for bikes, but on the bikes I've ridden I find a lot easier to match or even better the manufacturers stated numbers, while in cars those numbers are near-unattainable.
    That's quite interesting, as someone just starting out on bikes I often find it very very difficult to match the stated MPG figures of my cars, it's a change to find that it's the opposite for bikes.
    As far as I am aware, there is no official test for MPG. This is something that car manufacturers spend millions on to perform as well as possible.

    Interestingly, even though my motorcycle is doing 65mpg at present, I still pay a great deal of road tax. If this was CO2 rated the same as it is for cars, I swear I would be in the sub 100g category... therefore free road tax. It's a con... but then you knew that already.

  • MrGeoff 16 Feb 2012

    ZesPak said:
    Tbh I don't know how the legislation is on fuel economy for bikes, but on the bikes I've ridden I find a lot easier to match or even better the manufacturers stated numbers, while in cars those numbers are near-unattainable.
    That's quite interesting, as someone just starting out on bikes I often find it very very difficult to match the stated MPG figures of my cars, it's a change to find that it's the opposite for bikes.

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