Mr Dependable: The Kawasaki Er-6n is a powerful motorcycle

Jan 11, 2015, 08:42 IST | Amit Chhangani

Performance, versatility and great value — the Kawasaki ER-6n offers a lot in one compact package

Offering a wide range of motorcycles spanning the diminutive Z250 to the insanely powerful Ninja ZX-14R, Kawasaki has enthralled the Indian audience with its diverse products over the years. One of the most recent additions to the long list of its products in India is the ER-6n, the naked version of the Ninja 650. We took the versatile, rider-friendly machine for a rigorous testing session around the exotic environs of Lavasa and came back completely charmed.

Design and styling
As mentioned before, the ER-6n, in essence, is the Ninja 650 sans the fairing. The engine, the mechanicals and most of the layout remains similar to the faired version. Unlike the visually front heavy Ninja, the ER-6n looks more balanced with the visual mass of the motorcycle converging around the engine and the muscular tank. The minimalistic, angular headlamp is a daytime running unit and looks fantastic front on. Under the muscular tank, the ER-6n gets sharply styled shrouds flanking the radiator unit, enhancing the beefy look.

The exposed side mounted rear monosuspension unit on the ER-6n adds greatly to its visual appeal
The exposed side mounted rear monosuspension unit on the ER-6n adds greatly to its visual appeal

The signature side mounted rear suspension, painted in a contrasting red, adds to the bike's character. The red-painted, side-mounted rear mono-suspension is the only contrast on the all-black machine. Even the engine is painted black, and there is no getting away from the dark theme as this is the only colour option available in India. We really wish the ER-6n was available in the flashier Candy Flat Blazed Green/Metallic Flat Spark Black combo here. The bike looks much better in a two-tone colour scheme.

The powerful 300-mm twin front disc brakes endow the ER-6n with great braking power
The powerful 300-mm twin front disc brakes endow the ER-6n with great braking power

The rear of the naked 650 is rather minimalistic, though a step seat allows for proper two-up riding. The quality of handlebar grips and switchgear is top-notch. The instrumentation with it is white tachometer dial and the digital speedo/MID stacked below is minimalistic, but it looks smart and delivers all the information that matters. Like a whole bunch of parts, the tail lamps are shared with the Ninja 650. The short, stubby underbelly exhaust is tucked neatly under the swingarm and is also shared with the 650.

The ER-6n is a smart machine and looks muscular and aggressive from certain angles. The sculpted tank, the radiator shrouds, the rear suspension and the angular headlamps are the most notable bits on this bike as regards to styling. The bike, however, looks best in contrasting colour schemes, and the all-black treatment here hides the finer details which otherwise make this street fighter stand out. In the all-black trim, it doesn't grab too much attention, which may be a good thing for those who would rather keep their prized possession from prying eyes and save it from unwarranted notice, which sometimes also leads to tampering.

Engine and performance
Powering the ER-6n is a 649cc, fourstroke, parallel-twin, fuel-injected liquid-cooled engine, shared with the Ninja 650. The power output is rated at a very respectable 72.1 PS at 8,500 rpm, while peak torque output is 64 Nm at
7,000 rpm. While the engine is the same as the one of the Ninja 650, the state of tune on the ER-6n is slightly different. Unlike the supremely linear power delivery on the Ninja, this naked version has the power stored slightly higher up the rev-band. There is still plenty of midrange punch at hand though, with brisk in-gear acceleration allowing for swift overtaking manoeuvres without the need to downshift. A slight step up in power can be experienced post 6,000 rpm, and the engine doesn't have much resistance to rev all the way up to its red-line marked at 11,000 rpm.

The instrument console is minimalist, but is smartly done and offers useful information through its digital MID
The instrument console is minimalist, but is smartly done and offers useful information through its digital MID

While 72PS does not sound like a lot of power for a parallel-twin 650-cc motor, the ER-6n is punchy enough to dispose whatever the Indian road conditions may throw at it with ease. The motorcycle has the capability to cruise at a very swift 160km/h all day long, and can touch a top speed of 210 km/h. With a sub-7 second 0-100 km/h timing, the ER-6n is all the motorcycle the motorcycle you need in this part of the world.

While the power on tap is adequate and the throttle response is crisp, we weren't very impressed with the refinement of the motor. The Ninja 650 we rode last year seemed to have smoother engine in comparison. The engine on the ER-6n has a slightly gruff character, well within the tolerable limits, though not as silken as expected. Even with the grunty engine, there aren't any vibes to be experienced though. The six-speed transmission, too, isn't the smoothest unit we have come across, and could well have been a bit more fluid in operation.

Ride and handling
The ER-6n has a fairly rider-friendly seating position with the handlebars positioned in a rather upright position.
The foot-pegs for the rider are a bit more rear-set than we would have expected though. Overall, the rider sits fairly comfortably, with the hands reaching the bars quite conveniently without having to slouch over the tank. The rider's weight bias is mildly towards the front, which aids sporty riding around a set of bends.

The underbelly exhaust is neatly tucked under the motorcycle’s body. The exhaust note isn’t too enticing
The underbelly exhaust is neatly tucked under the motorcycle's body. The exhaust note isn't too enticing

From the rider's perspective, the ER-6n doesn't come across as a big, intimidating machine. It feels compact and presents itself as a nimble, easy to pilot motorcycle without putting too much pressure on the wrists and the
shoulders. The suspension, which was set to the middle setting on our test bike, felt rather stiff, though this could be easily resolved by turning it down a few notches. We would have desired the motorcycle to be a bit suppler at the medial setting though.

Stopping power is provided via big 300-mm twin-petal discs with dual pistons up front and single 220 mm petal disc featuring a single-piston at the rear. In conjunction with the Dunlop Roadsmart 120/70Z R17 front and 160/60Z R17 rear tyres, those discs do a great job of offering ample stopping power for the motorcycle. Braking is sharp, and in conjunction with grippy Dunlops, endows the ER-6n with powerful anchoring capabilities. We would have liked the brakes to feel a bit more progressive though. The bite, especially from the front brakes is sometimes too sharp and sudden and may take the rider by surprise. The ER-6n is sufficiently powerful, yet appreciably nimble, the seat
design allows for a very convenient lateral movement for the rider while hanging off around sharp corners. Noticeably flickable, forgiving and fun to ride around a variety of roads, the ER-6n presents itself as an ambidextrous motorcycle which can be used for both long distance touring as well as for some apex hunting fun over a weekend.

Our verdict
With an ex-showroom price tag of nigh Rs 4.8 lakh, the ER-6n is about Rs 40,000 cheaper than the Ninja 650. What you get for that money is a powerful, torquey engine with a strong mid-range and a dependable, performance-oriented motorcycle which can make you travel very fast interstate, and can also play the role of corner carver if you so wish. All Kawasaki motorcycles are built to exacting specification and the reliability and performance of this 650 twin is a given. At the price mentioned above, hardly anything else in the market presents itself as a more compelling buy in the 650cc range. There is the Hyosung GT650N, which retails for about R50K cheaper, but the
engineering, refinement and build quality of the Kawasaki is decidedly in a higher league.

With its versatile, rider-friendly character, usable power delivery and dependable dynamics, the ER-6n appears
to be a motorcycle custom-built for the Indian conditions. The lack of a windscreen can be a bit of a deterrent for the tourers, but that's no deal breaker by any stretch of imagination. A potent, grownup machine, which has established its authority across the world, the ER-6n makes a compelling case for itself if a potent motorcycle for R5 lakh or thereabouts is what you are looking for.

Technical specs
kawasaki ER-6N
Engine: 649cc, four-stroke liquid-cooled parallel twin
Power: 72.1 PS @ 8,000 rpm
Torque: 64 Nm @ 7,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed

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