2009 Kawasaki ER-6n Review

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2009 Kawasaki ER-6n Review

Post by ganahsokmo on Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:13 pm

The ER-6n may have an odd name and a weird
schnoz, but it’s one of the best bangs for the buck in the 2009 model
year. It’s a zippy commuter rig, an agile backroad scratcher and a
reasonable light-duty sport-tourer – it’s a modern interpretation of a
do-it-all roadster, all for a palatable $6,399 entry fee.


The ER-6n can be best described as a naked version of the
revised-for’09 Ninja 650R, and they share a new steel-trellis frame. Kawi
engineers used computer modeling to come up with a revised rigidity
balance, allowing a measure of tuned flex for improved handling. The
frame itself is said to be nearly as light as a comparable
aluminum-alloy unit, and it boasts an upgraded finish over previous
650Rs. Both chassis also share an offset lay-down rear shock and a
relatively long tubular-steel swingarm that offers extra rigidity to
balance the frame’s extra flex.
Kawasaki’s
new ER-6n brings amazing versatility and a high level of finish at a
very modest price.


You’ll also find commonality in the engine room, as both the Ninja
and the ER use the compact 649cc parallel-Twin with 4 valves per
cylinder actuated by double overhead cams. Both also share electronic
fuel-injection systems with 38mm throttle bodies; sub-throttle valves
mimic the smooth response of constant-velocity carburetors. Changes to
this engine from the previous 650R consist only of a larger airbox and
revised ECU mapping.

Although the ER is sure to find friends among pragmatic experienced
riders, the bike has also been developed to please beginners. As such,
it has such rider-friendly aids as an automatic fast-idle program to
make simple cold-starts, adjustable clutch and brake levers to
accommodate a variety of hand sizes, and a non-stressful upright riding
position. The new frame is narrower at its midsection, allowing a
slimmer seat for a shorter reach to the ground from the relatively low
seat height of 30.9 inches. The ER’s transmission is also equipped with
Kawi’s neutral-finder design that eases access to neutral when stopped.

Punch the starter button and the 649cc Twin blats out a tune familiar
to anyone who’s heard a Ninja 650, as it has the same under-engine
muffler and bullet-shaped exhaust tip. A light clutch pull eases
commuter duties, and a responsive pull from the torquey engine keep you
one step ahead of cage traffic. ZX-style mirrors are stalk-mounted on
the handlebar to offer a clear view of the vehicles you just left
behind.






Kawi’s Vibe-Away
Program





While a 90-degree V-Twin like a Suzuki SV650 or Gladius has perfect
primary balance that inhibits vibration, a parallel-Twin like the ER’s
transmits some primary and secondary forces that make their way to a
rider. Kawi’s Vibe Police stepped in this year with several updates to
quell any bothersome trembling from its inline-Twin.


A balance shaft returns to duty in the ER/Ninja, and this year it’s
augmented by the upper-rear engine mount being damped by rubber
bushings. In addition, the tubular steel handlebar is rubber-mounted to
inhibit vibration, and the bike’s footpegs are rubber covered. Even the
bike’s handy grab rails are mounted in soothing rubber. Vibration from
the previous Ninja 650R wasn’t excessive, but it’s now been reduced to
inconsequential levels.

The peak output from the twin-cylinder motor – 62.9 hp at 8800 rpm –
might seem a bit mild, but the impression from the saddle is of a much
more capable powerplant than those numbers indicate. Torque production
is a hugely important factor in how grunty a motor feels, so consider
that the ER’s 43.1 ft-lbs at 7200 rpm is slightly more than a ZX-6R puts
out at its peak way up at 12,000 rpm. That’s thrust you can use during
every run up through the gears, and it also results in surprisingly
strong roll-on performance at highway speeds. The word “underpowered”
never made an entry in our notebooks.


The ER-6n
has more than 35 ft-lbs of torque are available at just 3500 rpm. For
perspective, a Yamaha R6 rider has to wait until nearly 10,000 rpm to
achieve the same amount of twist.

Cruising at speeds up to 80 mph is surprisingly comfortable for a
naked bike, as a rider isn’t pummeled by overwhelming windblast. Credit
the large headlight housing and faired instruments for deflecting wind,
as well as the wide radiator shrouds which provide a wind break for legs
and incorporate unobtrusive clear-lens turnsignals. Although the seat
is narrow, it’s padded well enough for comfy one-hour stints.
As with any bike built on a budget, there are compromises made, and
you’ll notice this on the ER mostly in the suspension and brakes.

The 6n is equipped with a conventional 41mm fork and a single rear
shock that is directly mounted to the swingarm instead of using some
sort of linkage. To accommodate lighter riders and to provide a cushy
ride, the ER uses soft springs and damping settings. Heavy riders will
want to bump up the shock’s spring preload - the only available
suspension adjustment. Although aggressive riders would appreciate a
stiffer front end, the fork provides decent wheel control and a smooth
ride. As for the rear suspension, it works fine over most bumps, but it
doesn’t have the fine control of a linkage-equipped shock. This
shortcoming is most evident over repetitive highway bumps where the rear
end can react harshly.


A sporty
yet comfortably upright riding position accommodates most everyone, but
tall riders might want to fit a thicker saddle to expand the seat-to-peg
distance.


The front brakes on the previous Ninja 650 drew criticism for their
lack of feel, so Kawasaki made some revisions to the componentry of this
updated package also seen on the ER-6n. A new front brake master
cylinder was added, and it uses a new ball-joint and a different pivot
location to actuate old-tech 2-piston calipers on dual 300mm discs. They
provide a newbie-friendly soft initial bite and decent power once past
the initial squeeze but still don’t transmit much feedback.


The Er-six-en impresses most when faced with a twisty, technical road
– grins are sure to ensue. It proves to be very nimble despite the
narrowish handlebar and conservative steering geometry (24.5-degree
rake, 4.0 inches of trail). Aiding agility is a fairly short wheelbase
of 55.3 inches made possible by an engine with triangular-stacked gear
shafts to keep its length condensed while retaining a relatively long
swingarm. Kawi claims a 442-lb weight with all fluids and a full tank
(4.1 gallons) of fuel.

The ER-6n
obediently follows the whims of its rider.

The ER eagerly devours a serpentine road with more speed than you
might expect. The upright riding position gives a rider the feeling of
dominance over the ER, allowing confidence to soar for riders of all
experience levels. We challenge you not to smile! At the speeds possible
on a super-curvy path like Malibu’s Latigo Canyon, the ER is able to
keep pure sportbikes in sight, and I’ll bet that a newb would go quicker
on the modest Kawi in this situation than he/she would on any
literbike. A hint of abruptness during throttle reapplication is its
only glitch.
Ground clearance at street speeds is quite generous, as a rider is
able to feather the edges of the ER’s Dunlop Roadsmart tires that Pete
recently reviewed. A sportbike-standard 120/70-17 leads the way,
while a relatively narrow 160/60-17 puts the power to the ground. A
short seat-to-peg distance is the byproduct of the beneficent ground
clearance, constricting the legs of tall riders.


Pete
looking for prey…


When it comes to details, the ER-6n is well equipped. Four tie-down
points are thoughtfully provided under the tailsection, there is space
available under the seat for a U-lock, and a bright LED taillight aids
conspicuity. Passengers are welcomed by a decent perch with generous
grab rails, while a pair of cable straps under the seat provides
security for two helmets.

The ER’s instrumentation is a mixed bag. On the plus side, we
appreciate having a clock, fuel gauge, and dual tripmeters on the
multi-function LCD screen, and the white-faced analog speedometer at the
top of the pod is easy enough to read. However, the bar-style digital
tachometer is too small to be seen at a glance. A gear-position
indicator would be a nice touch on a newbie-friendly bike like this.




In terms of style, the ER both impresses and depresses. Its Candy
Plasma Blue color (with matching shock spring) really pops, and its new
frame and swingarm have an improved level of finish that adds to the
bike’s perceived quality. A nifty chin spoiler frames the dual header
pipes snaking curvaceously in front of the engine. On the other hand,
the ER’s distinctive proboscis looks a trifle odd, making us wonder why
Kawi can’t seem to make cool noses for its bikes. That said, beauty is
in the eye of the beholder.


After reading this far, our affection for the ER-6n should be
obvious. Riding Kawi’s newest naked around made us think that no one
really needs more motorcycle than this.


“Bikes like the ER-6n or Suzuki’s recently released Gladius make
sense for a lot of riders,” commented Senior Editor Pete Brissette who rode
the Gladius before the ER. “They have plenty of power, sporty
handling and very livable ergos. How much more should we ask for?”
Yes, you should anticipate an upcoming duel between the ER and the
Gladius. It’s worth noting that the Kawi’s $6,399 MSRP undercuts the
Glad’s by $500. The fully faired Ninja 650R also competes for your
dollars with a $6,799 retail price.


The ER-6n
has abilities far exceeding its bargain $6,399 MSRP.

Highs: Lows:


  • Silly easy to ride
  • Remarkably willing to serve its master
  • Able, accessible power


  • Tight fit for long legs
  • Compromised rear suspension
  • Funny face
Related Reading
2009
Suzuki Gladius Review
2006
Suzuki SV650S v. 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R
First
Ride: 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R
Hyosung
GT650 vs. Suzuki SV650

ganahsokmo

Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 35

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