PLUS Used ER-6 buy­ing guide

Perky twin bought prac­ti­cal­ity at a knock-down price

Motorcycle News (UK) - - In This Week's Issue - Dan Suther­land MCN GUEST TESTER

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

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