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MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Kawasaki ER-6n: A New Favorite for Women

It does most everything right

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
11/16/2010


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Sitting on the Kawasaki ER-6n and then taking it for a test ride, I knew instantly this all-new motorcycle, introduced in model year 2009, has that special quality that will — and is attracting lots of women riders, beginner and intermediate, to want to own one.
I’m riding the 2010 ER-6n, a 649cc motorcycle that inspires confidence in whomever is riding it.
I’m riding the 2010 ER-6n, a 649cc motorcycle that inspires confidence in whomever is riding it.


Once in awhile, a manufacturer designs a motorcycle that, just by happenstance, ends up being a favorite among women. Take Harley-Davidson’s Softail Deluxe for example. The Motor Company never set out to make it a women’s bike, nor has the motorcycle been marketed as such, but the low seat height combined with the very low center of gravity and the fact that it’s a Harley-Davidson Big Twin with appealing looks has many women owning and loving this motorcycle. Word of mouth made this happen, by the way.

I see the same thing occurring with Kawasaki’s ER-6n. Women who want a sportier ride (or simply don’t want a cruiser) as their first, second, (or end-all motorcycle – yep, it’s that cool) will gravitate to this bike.

My test ride on the ER-6n was short but it was enough for me to know this 650 is a bike women will fall in love with because it's so easy to ride without feeling anything like a beginner bike.
My test ride on the ER-6n was short but it was enough for me to know this 650 is a bike women will fall in love with because it's so easy to ride without feeling anything like a beginner bike.

The ER-6n does just about everything right, save for the unusual name, but at least it’s a name you’re likely to remember. Jan Plessner, Kawasaki’s public relations manager, calls the bike the E-R-6-little n. I like that. But how’d it get its name? Well, a few years ago Kawasaki introduced a motorcycle in Europe called the ER-6f. When it came to the U.S. it was renamed the Ninja 650R, a motorcycle that gained a loyal following fast. Because it was so popular, Kawasaki spun off a naked version of the ER-6f calling it the ER-6n. N for naked; f for fairing. Get it?

First, and most important to women riders is ergonomics. The seating position is dialed in so right. I sink into the saddle and lean slightly forward to grab the handlebars that are more upright than a traditional sportbike. Way easy on the shoulders…and will give beginning riders, and those to new to sportbikes, a chance to get used to the weight distribution and handling of a sportier machine without having to lean way down.

Did I mention this ER-6n is in the sportbike category? Hard to believe when it has an unbelievably low seat height of 29.7 inches. That combined with the easy tiptoe handling weight of 441 pounds means even shorties should have no problem straddling this bike.

My 5 foot 6.5 inch frame fits easily on the ER-6n. Riders shorter than me should have no problem either. I'm wearing Shift's Viper leather jacket <a href="/pages/story_detail.aspx?id=3721">reviewed on WRN here.</a>
My 5 foot 6.5 inch frame fits easily on the ER-6n. Riders shorter than me should have no problem either. I'm wearing Shift's Viper leather jacket reviewed on WRN here.

The ER-6n has a low center of gravity partly due to the exhaust pipe located under the frame.
The ER-6n has a low center of gravity partly due to the exhaust pipe located under the frame.


The ER-6n is powered by the same twin cylinder 650cc engine that moves the Ninja 650R. The motorcycle starts right up thanks to fuel injection that uses an “auto-fast idle” system that simplifies starting and ensures the catalyzer reaches optimum temperature quickly. When I twist the throttle for the first time, I'm anticipating I'll have to roll the throttle half way before the bike takes off and that I’ll have to power through the gears before I find any decent amount of torque. Nada! The torque’s right there! I blast through first gear and into second and I’m already feeling the oomph from the bike, oomph meaning torque to you newbies.

Leaning into the turns is fun. The bike feels so intuitive you want to push it to see how far it goes.
Leaning into the turns is fun. The bike feels so intuitive you want to push it to see how far it goes.


Whether flying in and out of traffic, or carving the canyons, the ER-6n can do both well. Getting up to speed on the highway snicking through the six gears, I noticed minimal vibration. Rubber upper-rear engine mounts decrease vibration transfer to the seat while the handlebar is rubber-mounted to lessen vibration to the hand grips. And the rider and passenger footpegs are rubber coated to further reduce vibration there.

 
The levers are adjustable by turning the round knob located at the hinge point, but I don’t think you’ll need to do that. I have plenty of finger room left here with the stock setting.
The levers are adjustable by turning the round knob located at the hinge point, but I don’t think you’ll need to do that. I have plenty of finger room left here with the stock setting.


 
Storage options include four tie-down hooks, and a small storage space under the seat with room for a U-lock or similar device. The tool kit is stored under there as well.
Storage options include four tie-down hooks, and a small storage space under the seat with room for a U-lock or similar device. The tool kit is stored under there as well.


An angular, stacked dual headlight and shroud contribute to the ER-6n’s striking image. Headlights can be adjusted behind the headlight cover.
An angular, stacked dual headlight and shroud contribute to the ER-6n’s striking image. Headlights can be adjusted behind the headlight cover.


The multi-function LCD screen has amber backlighting with an analog speedometer, bar-style digital tachometer, fuel gauge, clock, odometer and dual trip meters
The multi-function LCD screen has amber backlighting with an analog speedometer, bar-style digital tachometer, fuel gauge, clock, odometer and dual trip meters


Stopping power comes from dual 300mm front petal discs with twin piston brake calipers, with a single 220mm rear petal disc with single piston caliper.
Stopping power comes from dual 300mm front petal discs with twin piston brake calipers, with a single 220mm rear petal disc with single piston caliper.

I have a hard time calling the ER-6n a sportbike. It’s really a sportier bike that delivers a fun, exhilarating ride. You owe it to yourself to try one out at a demo ride near you.

Specs At A Glance: 2010 Kawasaki ER-6n
Displacement: 649cc
Seat Height: 29.7 inches
Weight: 441 pounds
Fuel capacity: 4.1 gallons
Colors: Metallic Flat Spark Black
Price: $6,699

WRN Recommendation:
The ER-6n is a no-frills middleweight that delivers a powerful ride at a decent price. Note, it’s not a beginner price tag by any means, but this is not really a true blue beginner bike, rather a motorcycle that's great for newly minted riders still finding their groove in motorcycling.
 
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Reader Comments


Can you confirm the 2009 ER-6n seat height is 1.4 inches lower than the 650R? According to the Kawasaki specs page it has a 29.7-inch seat height compared to a 31.1-inch seat height on the 650R?

The 650r can be found cheaper but if the ER-6n is indeed lower I would prefer that for my very short girlfriend.

Tim
Craigsville, WV
Friday, September 28, 2012
Editor Response
All the information I have indicates the ER-6n has a slightly lower seat height than the 650R.
Genevieve Schmitt
Great review! I got my licence in April 2012, and decided to buy a used Kawasaki ER-6n from 2007. I'm 5 feet 2 inches, so I was a litt;e worried about the seat hieght, but I assure you that I can handle it really well. I bought the original lower seat from Kawasaki just to touch the ground a little bit better, and now it's perfect!

I would absolutely recommend this bike as a beginners bike! I've already brought mine on the track and was really satisfied there as well! It's a great all-around bike! Since mine already has five years (and many miles) I'm thinking about what bike to buy next! Has anybody tried the Kawasaki Z1000?

Anna
Bologna, Italy
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Editor Response
You should buy a Ducati Monster as Ducati's headquarters are right in your backyard. That's my dream bike :)
Genevieve Schmitt
I rode this bike on a press trip and I was sooooo ready not to like it. I'm not a lean-over, hunker-down rider, how-fast-can-I-go kind of gal like Rachael Westfall, your new sportbike columnist. I like to sit up and watch the scenery go by, and it looked so much like the Ninja that if I didn't have to try it I wouldn't, but we were all trading and it was my turn. I was blown away. It looked too small, but I'm almost 5 feet 8 inches and it didn't feel small at all. I was sitting upright, but the cornering was great -- that sticky sportbike feeling. I could have spent more time on it, actually. Shhh. Don't tell.

Carla King
Pt. Richmond, CA
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I want to get my license in a few months. After a lot of looking around at all different kind of bikes including the Suzuki Gladuis, which matches the Kawasaki ER-6n...after much thought, the Kawasaki ER-6n looks way better. I was also worried that the bike would be too heavy for me or that the seat height would be too tall. I'm 5-feet-7 so now after reading your review there is now no doubt in my mind that this would be a perfect entry level bike for me. Great review!

Sharon Wedmore
Bristol, BS, United Kingdom
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
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