In 2006, Kawasaki introduced the Ninja 650R sports, a 649 cc parallel-twin engine, producing around 65 hp and 61 Nm of torque to the North American market. It was sold in European as the ER-6f, dropping the ‘Ninja’ moniker. Then, in the same year, ER-6n was introduced. While sharing the same platform and engine, both bikes differ in its core philosophy. While the full-faired ER-6f is meant to tear the freeways, the naked ER-6n was more street-focused with its ‘streetfighter’ styling cues. Two years later, the ER-6n made it into our shores, becoming a catalyst by imminently taking the local motorcycle scene with a storm with its sub RM30,000 price tag.
The ER-6n was designed with one thing in mind – easy riding. The parallel-twin powertrain produces just enough amount of power and torque for rookies to handle. The low and short dimensions of the bike contributes to its brilliant weight distribution, hence its agility and nimbleness. Some even said its a child’s play. Nowadays, most local driving institutions provide ER-6n for B license class. I signed up for the license at a driving institution in Shah Alam few months ago, where they had two units ER-6n. As a beginner with no prior experience in riding motorcycles bigger than 150 cc, I found the saying was quite true. The ER-6n was easy to ride.
So when Kawasaki handed the yellow 2012 ER-6n over to me, I was confident that I wouldn’t have any trouble handling it. I was also quite ecstatic knowing that its all mine to abuse for the weekend. For the 2012 model, Kawasaki has given the bike a quite extensive makeover. While maintaining the same engine and mechanicals, the new ER-6n is sharper. It features a more aggressive looking headlight with its stacked light clusters and a newly designed rectangular LED taillight which helps in making the tail look slicker compared to its predecessor.
One thing you would not miss looking at the instrument cluster is the reversed layout of the speedo and rev meter – the digital speedometer is located below the analogue rev meter, as opposed to the previous version which came with an analogue speedometer above the digital rev meter. I found the new layout much better and easier to read. It’s less prone to reflections too. Other changes include repositioned signal lights, new two-piece seat, tank cover garnish, taller tank position and a double-pipe frame fitted on each side of the bike.
My ears were greeted by a bassy yet sweet rumbling note coming out of the under-body muffler as I started the bike up. I revved it a little more up to 7,000 rpm and the bike was already wailing, telling me in its own language that it was ready to go. I am only 165 cm high and getting on the bike with two feet standing on the ground was not really an issue. At 805 mm, the seat is positioned just at the right height. I first took the bike for a spin around the vicinity in Shah Alam and Subang Jaya, just to get the ‘feel’. It was not that difficult to get acclimatized with the bike’s weight and handling. It follows your flow. The bike goes where you want to go in a graceful manner. For instance, I managed to make my way around a heavy traffic congestion without knocking someone’s side mirror, which I know a lot of beginners do. Haha.
Then I took it to the open road. There, the 649 cc, parallel twin power unit with 71 hp and 64 Nm of peak torque at its disposal did not fail me. It charged as atrociously as it could, like a leopard chasing a gazelle in the savanna. The ‘ECO’ sign in the dash disappeared as I twisted the throttle open, lifting the RPM needle above 8,000 rpm. Shifting? It was effortless. You can actually feel that the wet clutch engages and disengages the gears in a very precise manner. Because torque was plentiful across the engine’s powerband, you could tell that it wants more as you shift into higher gears. If the engine could talk, I’m sure it would say “KEEP IT COMING!”.
What is more liberating was the fact that the bike did not really need some pushing to convince you that it is one hell of a bike. It doesn’t have to bear the ‘Ninja’ moniker to show that it is capable of carving an evil smirk on your face. Given the specifications, this bike is fast. Not as fast as any other middleweight superbikes, but it is still fast. It accelerates fluently. I was overtaking cars on the right lane so swiftly I couldn’t believe it was such a breeze. I was giggling before I realized I was going too fast (it was only at 150 km/h actually) and the ferocious wind was already pushing against my feeble body figure. A common issue for a naked bike.
The standard-issue Dunlop Roadsmart 2 rubbers did their job. They were stably planted on the tarmac at high speed. No wobbles even under the rain. The brakes worked well too, though I did feel that the rear pad was fading and giving out at some point. The telescopic front fork and rear single-shock were lenient. There wasn’t any issue to be highlighted except that they worked just fine. The set up were plush and comfortable enough – good on smooth course, forgiving on bumpy roads. Well… I did not get down all the way to my knees like a real biker should but I believe that the ER-6n has the capacity to lean as low as it possibly could, bringing the rider closer to the road. All you need is a pair of balls. Made of steel.
So what is not so good about the ER-6n then? Hmm.. Honestly I don’t know. I love the bike. It looks and handles well. Power-wise? Sufficing. But some people tend to forget that the ER-6n is powered by a two-cylinder engine. So complaints like, “The bike is not powerful enough”, “It doesn’t sound as good as the Ninja” and “You will get bored in no time” and such, were quite popular to my ears when I voiced out my consideration of buying it. I know a friend of mine who is considering for a proper four-cylinder bike after just a few months riding the ER-6n. People, this is not a Ninja. I know it is derived from the Ninja family but the ER-6n is definitely not a Ninja. So do not expect it to go as fast as the ZX-6R. Do not expect it to growl like one either. Get a Ninja if you want a Ninja. Simple.
ER-6n or 6f for that matter, is a beginner’s bike. More experienced riders may enjoy riding it but you can’t change the fact that it is made for those who just got their B license, who are just starting to get into the world of riding or even for those who just wants to feel the fun of having two wheels between their crotches. Built in Thailand and sold as CKD here in Malaysia, the ER-6n is priced at RM 33,289.00. With that kind of price tag, I would say that this is the best bang-for-buck motorcycle you will ever get.[table class=”table table-bordered table-condensed” style=”width:400px;” th=”0″ caption=”2012 Kawasaki ER-6n Specs”]
“Engine Type”, “Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves”
“Displacement”, “649 cc”
“Power”, “71hp @ 8,500 rpm”
“Torque”, “64Nm @ 7,000 rpm”
“Brakes”, “Dual Disc (F), Single Disc (R)”
“Kerb Mass”, “204 kg”
“Wheelbase”, “1,410 mm”
“Length”, “2,110 mm”
“Width”, “770 mm”
“Seat Height”, “805 mm”
“Fuel Capacity”, “16 Litres”
“Tyres”, “120/70 ZR 17M/C (F), 160/60 ZR 17M/C (R)”