Kawasaki ER-6n 2012
After you`ve had a ride on the new Kawasaki ER-6n you understand why the factory thoroughly renewed the bike for 2012.
It`s not because there was anything wrong with the old model, as there wasn`t – indeed, the middleweight all-rounder was already one of the top choices for buyers in this class. It`s just that the new one is a whole lot better.
Almost everything about the bike is new, most evident initially in the look, which while clearly related to the old now has a more aggressive and purposeful stance with cleaner and more consistent lines. The incorporation of the rear shock into the line of the frame on the ER-6n’s right side is retained, but the frame itself along with the swingarm is new, each featuring a new doubled-up tube design which adds interest to the bike`s style.
The exhaust in the modern style lives compact and tucked up beneath the engine, centralising mass in the name of agility and balance, but this, a slightly reduced compression ratio and revisions to the engine mapping are the only changes to affect power. The consequence is a broader spread of torque up to 7,000rpm and a slightly lower peak.
It doesn`t sound like much but you do notice. The Kawasaki ER-6n‘s motor seems to be better balanced and smoother than before too, delighting with its bubbling chocolate feel and immediate power delivery, and offering enough muscle to let you leave it in a high gear and bowl along country lanes without constantly having to work the gearbox to maintain the revs and keep it sharp.
There`s a very noticeable and pleasing growl coming up from beneath the fuel tank when you`re stretching the motor`s ability, matched by reassuring stability across the speed range and agility enough to make sinuous roads a pleasure rather than hard work. Direction changes are fast and the Kawasaki ER-6n holds its line accurately.
The suspension is significantly softer than on the old model’s, a move made possible by increasing the amount of wheel travel, and while it does affect the bike`s poise a little when you`re really pushing it hard, especially in rapid direction changes, the improvement in ride quality and comfort are well worth it. The bike is also better behaved on bumpy roads (which seem to be most of them these days. ), dealing with potholes more convincingly than before.
The Kawasaki ER-6n is a compact machine though, too small really for taller riders. I`m 6`3” (1.91m) and felt like I was dwarfing the bike, although this is psychological as much as real as a 400 mile (650km) round trip in poor conditions was dealt with in surprising comfort. Certainly the seat is perfectly acceptable for long distances, and the engine`s thriftiness with fuel means the bike has a decent range too.
An Eco indicator in the dash comes on when the revs are below 6,000rpm and the throttle isn`t opened too wide, which allows you to cruise at 80mph (130kph) without extinguishing it. Do this and you`re rewarded with 54mpg (19.1km/l, 5.23l/100km, 45mpg US), and much faster is uncomfortable anyway without a fairing to break up the windblast.
Ride more carefully still and that can be eased up to 60mpg (21.2km/l, 4.71l/100km, 50mpg US), although harder use drops the figures to the low 40s to the gallon (approx 15km/l, 6.7l/100km, 35mpg US). With 3.5 gallons (16 litres, 4.2 gallons US) in the tank it`ll stretch to 190 miles (300km) between refills, not bad for a bike in this class.
The much improved dash lets you know your economy accurately and how many miles you have remaining, a touch of class on a sub- £6,000 middleweight. The Kawasaki ER-6n is a high quality machine throughout in fact: the chain adjusters are chunky machined aluminium blocks, plastic shrouds protect the forks from stone chips and the fit and finish generally are exceptionally good.
A shame then that there`s no ABS option (in the UK market, this will be different in some others), which some rivals can offer and which will certainly sway some buying decisions. If you want that you`ll need to go for the faired ER-6f, which is £200 more plus a further £400 for the ABS itself. BUt that fairing will certainly enhance the versatility.
Even so, the Kawasaki ER-6n is great fun and very capable, as it`s always been, but now looks better than before and adds a welcome extra degree of comfort. Its ace though is the engine, which has quietly moved to the top of its class for its breadth of power and seductive sound and feel.
Model tested: Kawasaki ER-6n
Engine: twin cylinder, liquid cooled, dohc 8v, 649cc
Power: 71bhp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 47lb.ft @ 8,57,000rpm
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