Motorbike

Kawasaki ER-6f (2006 - 2011) review

Easy going and ticks all the boxes for Commuters and inexperienced riders, but if you've been around bikes for a bit it's charms pall quickly.
Details
Manufacturer:
Kawasaki
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 5599
Overall
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)
For town riding and just generally getting used to the world of two wheels, the ER-6f offers exactly what a newer rider would want.
Excellent for town riding
No fuel gauge, poor mirrors

When TWO tested the naked ER-6n a few months ago it proved a real surprise. On paper the parallel twin motor, wilfully odd looks and curious paint combinations seemed unpromising. But, basic though it was, the ER-6n’s feisty character charmed everyone who rode it.

Kawasaki obviously decided to adhere to what our American cousins charmingly call the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. You want a bike to appeal to a new rider? Okay, give it wieldy handling, a low seat height, chirpy motor, decent brakes and a look that doesn’t advertise the budget price tag. In the ER-6n this collection of virtues gels effectively as a package. But would adding a fairing upset this balance?

The simple answer to that is ‘No’. There are so few differences between the two bikes that Kawasaki would have had to screw up spectacularly for this to be any less good than its naked sibling. Apart from the fairing, the ER-6f has a slightly longer wheelbase, subtly changed geometry to compensate for the extra weight, and a 5mm higher seat. That’s it. Even the bars are the same as the naked bike. In the UK we’re accustomed to low clip-ons (or at least clip-on style bars) with faired bikes. Grasping the raised bars for the first time is a trifle discombobulating, but on the move it makes sense. A commonly raised complaint about Suzuki’s SV650S (probably this bike’s main competitor) is that in town the low-set bars can cause wrist ache, especially for shorter riders. This just doesn’t happen with the ER-6f. It may not be as handling-focused as the SV, but for a newer rider the advantages of comfort probably outweigh any loss in cornering performance.

That’s not to say the ER-6f is a slouch. It’s not heavy (Kawasaki claims 178kg dry; we reckon it’ll be just over 200kg wet and fuelled up) and what mass there is has been thoughtfully located, hence the underslung exhaust. As with the unfaired bike this gives the ER a nimble, fast-steering feel. Looking at the statistics from when we tested the ER-6n against the SV650S (TWO, February ’06), the SV actually weighs less – but on the road the ER feels lighter.

Although in a straight head-to-head the SV’s chassis offers a sportier ride, through tight corners the ER requires virtually no effort to get it to change direction, aided by the extra leverage from the flat bars. It may be set on the soft side – and unadjustable apart from preload on the shock – but this complements the handling and it’s fine for normal road riding. The stage where the suspension starts to get overwhelmed is probably about as far as you’d want to push the ER anyway. It really is a lot of fun to ride within its modest limits.

Ah yes, limits. Within the ER-6f’s comfort zone the chassis, motor and suspension all work together perfectly. Push beyond this and it starts to unravel. But for the kind of rider Kawasaki is aiming the ER at – novices and commuters – this isn’t going to happen often, especially on British roads.

It’s the same story with the engine, which is bang on for the ER-6f’s target market. It’s smooth, willing and characterful-sounding, though the rev limit is deceptively low, and it’s mated to a decent gearbox and a light clutch. Experienced riders will, after a while, start treating the throttle like an on/off switch and bouncing off the rev limiter.

So is the ER-6f the perfect commuter for new or less experienced riders? Well it’s definitely one to consider, but it isn’t perfect. The fairing does a good job of deflecting the wind but on every bike I rode it buzzed and rattled when going through 5000rpm on overrun. It varied from bike-to-bike and one was particularly bad. Since they were all pre-production models we’ll have to reserve judgement. It could be down to corner-cutting at the design stage or may be an early glitch that will be solved before they hit the showroom. While I’m griping, the mirrors show a lot of elbow, which is poor on a bike designed for potentially nervous new riders. And there’s no fuel gauge.

There’s an ABS option but, having tried it, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re particularly fearful about locking the wheels, in which case it would justify the £400 extra. The system is effective, but kicks in abruptly and shudders a lot. Kawasaki UK isn’t planning to import many ABS models.

So, overall, how does the ER fit into the middleweight class? Its closest competitor in price and configuration is the SV650S, and for inexperienced riders it beats the Suzuki. For town riding and just generally getting used to the world of two wheels, the ER-6f offers exactly what a newer rider would want.

But for the more experienced rider the SV has a longer life expectancy. It’s got more strength in depth – you can even take it on track and ride it pretty hard. And then there are the deals. Suzuki is offering two years free servicing on the SV (although this offer stops soon), and it costs £4599. Kawasaki may have to lay on some deals to compete.

The ER-6f’s easy-going nature and performance will win it an army of fans, and deservedly so. In the market for a cracking first bike? You’re probably looking at it.

Jon Urry - Launch Report, April 2006 Issue

When TWO tested the naked ER-6n a few months ago it proved a real surprise. On paper the parallel twin motor, wilfully odd looks and curious paint combinations seemed unpromising. But, basic though it was, the ER-6n’s feisty character charmed everyone who rode it.

Kawasaki obviously decided to adhere to what our American cousins charmingly call the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. You want a bike to appeal to a new rider? Okay, give it wieldy handling, a low seat height, chirpy motor, decent brakes and a look that doesn’t advertise the budget price tag. In the ER-6n this collection of virtues gels effectively as a package. But would adding a fairing upset this balance?

The simple answer to that is ‘No’. There are so few differences between the two bikes that Kawasaki would have had to screw up spectacularly for this to be any less good than its naked sibling. Apart from the fairing, the ER-6f has a slightly longer wheelbase, subtly changed geometry to compensate for the extra weight, and a 5mm higher seat. That’s it. Even the bars are the same as the naked bike. In the UK we’re accustomed to low clip-ons (or at least clip-on style bars) with faired bikes. Grasping the raised bars for the first time is a trifle discombobulating, but on the move it makes sense. A commonly raised complaint about Suzuki’s SV650S (probably this bike’s main competitor) is that in town the low-set bars can cause wrist ache, especially for shorter riders. This just doesn’t happen with the ER-6f. It may not be as handling-focused as the SV, but for a newer rider the advantages of comfort probably outweigh any loss in cornering performance.

That’s not to say the ER-6f is a slouch. It’s not heavy (Kawasaki claims 178kg dry; we reckon it’ll be just over 200kg wet and fuelled up) and what mass there is has been thoughtfully located, hence the underslung exhaust. As with the unfaired bike this gives the ER a nimble, fast-steering feel. Looking at the statistics from when we tested the ER-6n against the SV650S (TWO, February ’06), the SV actually weighs less – but on the road the ER feels lighter.

Although in a straight head-to-head the SV’s chassis offers a sportier ride, through tight corners the ER requires virtually no effort to get it to change direction, aided by the extra leverage from the flat bars. It may be set on the soft side – and unadjustable apart from preload on the shock – but this complements the handling and it’s fine for normal road riding. The stage where the suspension starts to get overwhelmed is probably about as far as you’d want to push the ER anyway. It really is a lot of fun to ride within its modest limits.

Ah yes, limits. Within the ER-6f’s comfort zone the chassis, motor and suspension all work together perfectly. Push beyond this and it starts to unravel. But for the kind of rider Kawasaki is aiming the ER at – novices and commuters – this isn’t going to happen often, especially on British roads.

It’s the same story with the engine, which is bang on for the ER-6f’s target market. It’s smooth, willing and characterful-sounding, though the rev limit is deceptively low, and it’s mated to a decent gearbox and a light clutch. Experienced riders will, after a while, start treating the throttle like an on/off switch and bouncing off the rev limiter.

So is the ER-6f the perfect commuter for new or less experienced riders? Well it’s definitely one to consider, but it isn’t perfect. The fairing does a good job of deflecting the wind but on every bike I rode it buzzed and rattled when going through 5000rpm on overrun. It varied from bike-to-bike and one was particularly bad. Since they were all pre-production models we’ll have to reserve judgement. It could be down to corner-cutting at the design stage or may be an early glitch that will be solved before they hit the showroom. While I’m griping, the mirrors show a lot of elbow, which is poor on a bike designed for potentially nervous new riders. And there’s no fuel gauge.

There’s an ABS option but, having tried it, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re particularly fearful about locking the wheels, in which case it would justify the £400 extra. The system is effective, but kicks in abruptly and shudders a lot. Kawasaki UK isn’t planning to import many ABS models.

So, overall, how does the ER fit into the middleweight class? Its closest competitor in price and configuration is the SV650S, and for inexperienced riders it beats the Suzuki. For town riding and just generally getting used to the world of two wheels, the ER-6f offers exactly what a newer rider would want.

But for the more experienced rider the SV has a longer life expectancy. It’s got more strength in depth – you can even take it on track and ride it pretty hard. And then there are the deals. Suzuki is offering two years free servicing on the SV (although this offer stops soon), and it costs £4599. Kawasaki may have to lay on some deals to compete.

The ER-6f’s easy-going nature and performance will win it an army of fans, and deservedly so. In the market for a cracking first bike? You’re probably looking at it.

Jon Urry - Launch Report, April 2006 Issue

Length (mm)2105
Dryweight (kg)178
Seats2
Seat Height (mm)790
Suspension Front41mm telescopic forks
Suspension RearOffset laydown monoshock
Adjustability RearPreload Adjustable
Tyres Front120/70-17
Tyres Rear160/60-17
Brakes FrontTwin 300mm petal discs, two piston calipers
Brakes RearSingle 220mm petal disc, single piston caliper
Tank Capacity (litres)15.5
Wheelbase (mm)1410
Rake (degrees)25
Trail (mm)106
ChassisDiamond, high tensile steel
ColoursBlack, Silver
Cubic Capacity (cc)649
Valves8
Max Power (bhp)71
Max Power Peak (rpm)8500
Torque (ft/lb)48
Torque Peak (rpm)7000
Bore (mm)83
Stroke (mm)60
Compression Ratio11.3
Valves Per Cylinder4
CoolingLiquid
Fuel DeliveryFuel Injection
Stroke TypeFour Stroke
DriveChain

Excellent for town riding
No fuel gauge, poor mirrors

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