PLUS Used ER-6 buying guide
Perky twin bought practicality at a knock-down price
What we said then
“Kawasaki’s ER-6 has already proved its worth. It’s fun, light, looks funky, is easy to ride and has enough power to have fun on. Adding a fairing has increased that appeal, especially for those who want to do serious miles. The fairing isn’t a simple bolt-on – Kawasaki have used the distinctive Z1000 headlight and built the fairing around it. It exudes quality. Handling is almost identical to the naked version – it just feels slightly heavier. However, it’s still very flickable, immense fun and very easy to ride.” Adam Child, MCN January 22, 2006
But what is it like now?
It’s hard to believe that the ER6-F is ten years old. It only seems like yesterday when Kawasaki took the logical step of slapping a fairing on their fun-andfunky 650cc parallel-twin roadster to create a stylish, do-it-all which was as popular with hardcore commuters and Sunday scratchers as it was with newer riders. Although mechanically identical to the original naked variant, the ER-6F boasted a high-quality bespoke fairing complete with new clocks, and revised suspension to cope with the additional 4kg of weight from the bodywork.
A decade down the line and that peppy 69bhp parallel-twin has lost none of its appeal. There’s bags of character and a reassuring throb of torque which accompanies every fistful of perfectly fuelled thrust. Regardless of your skill level, the ER-6F is a serious hoot and you’d be hard pushed not to let it entertain you.
Contrary to what the comfortable, upright riding position might suggest, life on board the ER-6F is far from boring, and I’m forever spurred on by the throaty grumble of the Delkevic can fitted to this example, which crackles and spits on the overrun. I found myself downshifting and blipping the throttle just so I could hear it.
Changing up a gear, however, was a different story. This particular model had a very high-positioned gear lever and I would sometimes hit a false neutral when journeying between first and second. After I had adjusted my riding style to accommodate this, the neutrals disappeared and the change was perfectly pleasant. The clutch action was light and smooth, too.
For such a practical bike, I was initially surprised at just how far the mirrors are from the bars. Visibility is good, but this position makes adjustment on the fly a bit of a stretch. They also get vibey under hard acceleration, as do the bars and pegs which can get uncomfortable after long periods in the saddle.
Has it worn well?
Being used as a daily commuter has taken its toll on the Kawasaki, and after 21,000 miles this particular example is beginning to show its age. The model was introduced as a value-for-money, entry-level commuter so although it boasts some quality components such as the clocks and plastics, some of the metal parts were a little low-spec even when new. This machine’s painted tubular frame and swingarm is looking a little tatty and is now showing some surface rust. Likewise the header pipes are also showing the patina of daily, year-round use. The R&G crash bung on the right-hand side was also scuffed, which suggests the bike has been dropped at some point in the last few years. This could also explain why there is an aftermarket exhaust can.
The twin-pot front Tokico calipers don’t offer much feedback and have little initial bite, although this was a criticism of the bike when new and can be improved with braided steel lines and aftermarket semi-sintered pads. The tyres, although from budget manufacturer Maxxis, still offered enough grip to inspire easy, dry-weather lean angles, and this was only amplified by the ER6’S fun, flickable handling.
An ideal partner
If you’re looking for a characterful first bike or a trusty, fun commuter, then an ER-6F is hard to ignore. With info-packed clocks that include a fuel gauge, decent wind protection from that fairing, and class-leading lightness, the paralleltwin should prove a perfect partner. You can pick one up privately for as little as £1700 and barring a few cosmetic blemishes, it shouldn’t let you down.
Eye-catching in black and red, you’ll have plenty of fun for your money