There are so many reasons why you should buy a used Kawasaki ER-6n, not only is this lightweight parallel twin a fantastic machine to own and run, it is currently also a superb buy in the second hand market. And with the arrival of the new Z650, dealers will be keener than ever to cut you a deal, especially if you are chasing up a virtually new pre-registered 2016 model.
Originally released in 2006, the ER-6n was a truly groundbreaking bike much like the recent Yamaha MT-07. This was the first of a new breed of cheap, light and above all tremendous fun middleweights that broke free from the traditional shackles of being forced down the inline four route. Kawasaki had thought outside the box and their gamble paid off as the ER range sold like hotcakes all over Europe.
The key to the ER’s success is its relaxed outlook on life combined with a surprising turn of pace. If you want to take it easy, the parallel twin engine is a joy with perfect fuelling, a light clutch and an overall easy going attitude. It’s an ideal bike for newer riders with a low seat height and hides no surprises or worries on the reliability front. However, it is when you feel in the mood for a bit more excitement that the ER-6n really surprises.
Give it some beans, attack a few corners and the ER-6n is an absolute demon. This is a bike that in race trim dominates its class at the TT and aside from some spongy suspension, is a real eye opener in the bends. The parallel twin engine loves to be worked hard and responds with excellent drive and a cheeky little top end buzz that will leave you grinning form ear to ear and is very unexpected on such a cheap and easily over-looked bike. Which has been the ER’s problem of late.
In recent years the ER-6n has fallen slightly out of favour due to the staggering MT-07, but don’t let that put you off buying one. It is a brilliant bike for commuting through busy streets, blasting down twisty back roads on and generally simply delighting in the joys of two wheels. And for under £2000 for an early model, it’s also great value for money.
The early ER-6n models (top picture) had a few quirks that buyers need to be wary of, while the later bikes are generally very reliable.
The header pipes on pre-2012 machines have a habit of cracking where they enter the muffler, so give this area a good inspection and feel for any gas escaping, and also have a very close look at the frame. The top engine mount on pre-2012 bikes is a bit weak and if the bike is dropped it can fracture, which is something to be very cautious about on older used machines. The radiator is another area for worry on older bikes as if it isn’t cleaned regularly it can become full of crud, which leads to the metal rotting and the radiator leaking. Crash damage will also compromise the radiator’s integrity, so always check for any leaks.
As you would expect on a budget commuter, the ER-6n’s suspension is built to a cost and isn’t the firmest out there, so check for leaking fork seals and a shock that is well past its best. The two-piston sliding piston brake calipers can get a bit gummed up if the bike isn’t well maintained, but this is a cheap and fairly simple fix, and be aware that ABS was an optional extra on the ER-6n, so if you want that safety net be prepared to shop around to find one with it fitted. A few owners on forums moan about the ER’s ignition barrel failing on older models, so check that it operates smoothly and that the ignition key also activates the seat lock and fuel cap, but this is a rare fault. In general you are looking out for wear and tear (the paint likes to flake off the motor) and any obvious signs of crash damage.
The ER-6n was launched in 2006 and was quickly followed up with the faired ER-6f model and, a year later, the oddball Versys. In 2009 both ER bikes received very slight styling and chassis updates before a complete revamp in 2012. The 2012 bikes (bottom picture) have an entirely new frame as well as longer stroke suspension, a new dash and a new fuel map on the motor that increases power by 1bhp and ups the torque by 2ft.lb. This model remained virtually unaltered until it was discontinued at the end of 2016 to make way for the brand new Z650, which is not just a re-hashed ER-6n but actually quite a substantially altered new model.
Starting with the cheapest, an early ER-6n will set you back in the region of £1,800 from a dealer or £1,500 in a private sale. These bikes will have seen a bit of action or be an insurance write-off. If you want a good example of a pre-update ER-6n then you need to look at spending close to, or just over, £2,500 in a dealership, which isn’t bad value for money. Prices for a post-2012 updated bike start at £3,000 and if you are looking at spending £2,500 on an earlier model, you might as well stretch your budget a bit for the better updated one, especially in winter when dealers are looking to grab any money they can and bargains can be haggled. Prices for late 2014 or 2015 models begin at £4,000 while pre-registered 2016 bikes can be snapped up for the £5,000 area. These will have minimal miles on their clocks.
http://www.kawiforums.com/ninja-650r-er6/ - Oddly, aside from a German one, there isn’t a dedicated ER-6n forum out there, which is a surprise for such a popular machine. This general Kawasaki forum has a sub-section for ER-6n owners that is very active and a good source of information.
Engine: 8v dohc, 649cc liquid-cooled parallel twin
Power: 71bhp @ 8,500rpm (72bhp on post-2012)
Torque: 47ft.lb @ 7,000rpm (49ft.lb on post-2012)