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Monday 13th February 2012

PH2 ridden: 2012 Kawasaki ER-6n

PH2 takes a spin on the latest generation of this quirky looking middleweight



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

 

Jon Urry
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Author Discussion

PILCH 23

Original Poster:

170 posts

86 months

[news] 
Monday 13th February 2012 quote quote all
A worthy bike for those starting out on a gloroious path to two wheeled headonism...

but I would rather hear about the MV Agusta F3 in PH2. Did you go on that test?

Gixer_fan

212 posts

84 months

[news] 
Monday 13th February 2012 quote quote all
Not the most exciting topic but I'd be disappointed with 45 mpg from a bike like that. I usually average 40+ from my old GSXR11..

Chicken Chaser

3,900 posts

110 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
I think it should easily return 50+ as the old one did.

I think Kawasaki are right on the money with the Er6. When it first came as a competitor to the SV, I thought Suzuki had it sewn up but theyve stagnated for years whilst Kawasaki have continued to evolve the ER. For the majority of riders looking for a bit of upright fun, I reckon the ER6 could be all what they need, especially in times of austerity.

shanes

819 posts

41 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
dam that it ugly

Chicken Chaser

3,900 posts

110 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
shanes said:
dam that it ugly
You ride a KTM dont you Shane? You should love the ugly look (I do!)
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PaulMoor

1,595 posts

49 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
45 MPG? From a 70bhp 650? How did they manage that...

I also cna't get my head round the looks.

ZesPak

14,255 posts

82 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
Gixer_fan said:
Not the most exciting topic but I'd be disappointed with 45 mpg from a bike like that. I usually average 40+ from my old GSXR11..
PaulMoor said:
45 MPG? From a 70bhp 650? How did they manage that...

I also cna't get my head round the looks.
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.

srob

9,448 posts

124 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
Don't think the banana yellow does it any favours in the looks dept! There's some quite nice details on it though, the footrest hanger's nice smile

As I've rattled on about before though, 45 mpg is absolutely - embarressingly - st. Come on bike manufacturers, take a break from the bhp wars for a while and get some decent economy out of real stuff that real (skint!) people can use!

PaulMoor

1,595 posts

49 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
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.
Ye, but 45mpg? My 10 year old 650 manages 75ish. Yes, I also only have 50bhp, but still... How come cars get more power for less fuel but not bikes.

richy759

227 posts

89 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
My 2009 ER6F would do 60mpg so I doubt this is much different.
Rich

Mr Gear

9,093 posts

76 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
PaulMoor said:
45 MPG? From a 70bhp 650? How did they manage that...
It says "est" which I think means "totally pulled out of our arses". If you can't get 60mpg out of an ER6, then you are probably forgetting to change out of first gear.

I've always liked the ER series from Kawasaki. If we are honest with ourselves, it's all the bike you'll ever need. As for reviewing the new MV.... well this bike is far more relevant and significant. You'll see 10 of these on the road for every new MV 675.

spareparts

5,017 posts

113 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
In the metal, I thought the banana yellow ER6N actually looks pretty good getmecoat

For fuel economy, Honda are showing the way with that new NC700. Interestingly, it is not the old Dullville/DN01 700cc motor, but a new engine which is basically half the 1.4 engine from the Honda Jazz car. Economy on the NC700 is supposedly nearly 80mpg for a 700cc... although it only revs to 7k rpm?

Riknos

4,278 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 14th February 2012 quote quote all
I think it looks pretty good. If I were a new rider, looking to purchase a new bike, I would definitely consider one of these.

Then probably end up with a super sports instead wink

MrGeoff

187 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th February 2012 quote quote all
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.

Mr Gear

9,093 posts

76 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th February 2012 quote quote all
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

187 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th February 2012 quote quote all
Mr Gear said:
It's a con... but then you knew that already.
Don't we just, 'green' taxes eh.

sprinter1050

11,302 posts

113 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th February 2012 quote quote all
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 )

stormyluke

1 posts

32 months

[news] 
Friday 17th February 2012 quote quote all
Awesome fun little bikes, engine has loads of go, rides pretty well, was very impressed with it when i rode an older model
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