The bike was waiting for me at the front of Kawasaki’s headquarters in Irvine, CA. when I went to pick it up. The ER-6n is certainly a looker with its sleak yet agressive lines. Couple that with the Candy Plasma Blue color our test bike came in and it turned heads everywhere it went. The front flashers are neatly flushed into the side of the upper fairings so you won\'t have to convert the usual ugly stock ones that typically come with these types of bikes. Its trick under-carriage exhaust and unique offset rear shock are just a few more visual reasons to like the Kawasaki ER-6n.
The ER-6n’s 29.7 inch seat height allowed me to plant my feet comfortably on the ground while the short reach to the handlebars placed my body in a near upright position. Unfortunately the mirrors were difficult to adjust to any great extent without the use of tools. I also found that the switches seemed to have been placed a little too close together causing you to beep the horn when you intended to use the turn signals. The last minor issue I had was that, while the layout of the dash panel looked cool, I struggled to view the tiny little numbers on the analog speedometer display. On the other hand, I really appreciated the digital tachometer and fully functional fuel gauge and who really cares about how fast you’re going anyway, right?
As I started the fuel injected 650cc liquid cooled parallel twin engine, the under-body exhaust and whine of the camshaft gears was like music to my ears; let the fun begin…..I hope. Initially, I wasn\'t sure what to expect from the parallel twin engine but I was quickly impressed. The ER-6n has smooth and responsive low to mid range torque which allowed me to go barreling up the I-5 North at about, oh let’s just say faster than the speed limit by quite a bit with plenty of twist left in the throttle. The bike was extremely stable and trustworthy well into triple digit speeds (at least I imagine it would be if I were inclined to do such dastardly acts).
The 6 speed gearbox was a bit notchy but did its job even under aggressive riding; neutral was easy to find and the manual clutch acted more like a hydraulic unit as it had a soft pull and was very responsive. Don’t let looks deceive you! I was expecting a strong bite when I squeezed the front brake lever since the ER-6n has dual 300mm petal rotors with 2 piston calipers. Imagine my surprise then when the lever had a squishy, faded feel…..hmm. Mounted on the rear is a single 220mm petal rotor with a single piston caliper which is modulated very much like the front brakes. Now, maybe Kawasaki modulates the brakes more towards keeping a newer rider in the seat than towards maximum bite but a little more grab would be nice. The brakes will stop you quickly; just don’t expect a high level of feel and feedback while on the binders.
For a bike that weighs 450lbs, the ER-6n responded quite well as I maneuvered in and out of traffic and the usual road hazards of L.A. It is extremely easy to ride and never compromised my confidence even under aggressive maneuvering. The 650cc parallel twin was smooth and surprisingly responsive. It has a nice combination of v-twin mid-range torque and the top end performance of an inline four which comes in handy for both canyon and urban riding. Fuel economy is about what I expected and was able to squeeze about 110 miles before the fuel light turned on which averages to about 35mg under above normal riding conditions.
I went on a 250 mile ride through Castaic and back into the Malibu canyons to see what the ER-6N is made of. The bike performed exceptionally well with stock suspension settings and did not feel heavy or sluggish as I rode through the high-speed sweepers on the way north to Castaic Lake. I managed to get the bike to an indicated XXXMPH (must not incriminate myself!) chasing a Honda CBR1000RR. Once I got to the more technical roads like Bouquet and Latigo Canyons the ER-6n really came into its own and showed that, in the right hands, it is a take-no-prisoners type of bike. The sticky Dunlop Sportmax tires provided plenty of grip and confidence to aggressively tackle the switchback, decreasing radius and hairpin turns while the 650cc parallel twin provided plenty of mid range torque.
After about 6 and a half hours of riding my body wasn\'t overly tired mainly due to the upright riding position and comfortable seat. My buddy, however, on his CBR1000RR, was going to be hurting the next day for sure. After a great Mexican lunch at the famous Casa Blanca (yes, it is really a white house) in Venice Beach, I was ready to call it a day and head back home. In conclusion... The Kawasaki ER-6N looks great with the Candy Plasma Blue color, unique offset rear suspension and swingarm, and under carriage exhaust that is guaranteed to spark interest and conversation at your next bike hangout. Its engine performance is impressive and will stretch that smile across your face as you motor through some nice twisty roads or just a cruise through the city with your significant other on the back. With an MSRP of $6399.00 the Kawasaki ER-6N is a practical bike that is easy to ride for a beginner but also has the ability to be fun and exciting for the more experienced rider.