Chunky fun: Kawa's parallel twins
KAWA CLASSIC: The ER-6f is redesigned for 2012, but remains the popular commuter its fans have come to love.
Author: DAVE FALL
Originally launched in 2006 the really practical and popular 650cc Kawasaki ER-6f (pic 1) and ER-6n (pic 2) parallel twins were comprehensively revamped for 2009, by which time the engineers were already beavering away at a complete redesign for 2012. The fruit of their labours recently arrived in South Africa, and without doubt the 2012 Kawasaki ER-6f and ER-6n are the best yet.
Engine wise, the ultra-reliable, water-cooled, fuel-injected Kawasaki engine remains essentially the same as that of its predecessor, being compact, smooth and powerful enough to take the bikes to well over 200 km/h very quickly without complaint from anybody except the authorities.
The transmission is a cassette unit mounted above the crankshaft while the silencer is mounted under the engine to keep help the centre of gravity way down low.
FOR EXPERTS AND NOVICES
These units are then fitted to the fully faired Kawasaki ER-6f, the naked ER-6n and the comfortable Versys 650 are all light, nimble machines capable of providing affordable, exciting motorcycling to both expert and novice riders.
For 2012 the “f” and “n” versions have had their intake and exhaust systems tweaked and their engine management systems fettled to produce an even wider, more user-friendly spread of usable torque.
I’m told on good authority that the main changes for this year are just about everything on the bike – except the motor. Output is now 53kW at 8500 rpm and 64Nm of torque at 7000. Although that’s 2Nm down on the outgoing model, the much more generous mid-range grunt more than makes up for it. Balance shafts make sure that the engine feels as smooth as a four-cylinder unit while being markedly less complex.
It’s plain to see the styling is totally new, and all the revised plastics hang on an all-new double-pipe frame and swing arm that’s slimmer and lower, offering even nimbler handling than that of the outgoing models, that were already outstanding in that department. Intake ducts through the frame ensure a steady supply of cool air to the airbox, improving both efficiency and the sound effects when the bike’s ridden hard.
All this makes for a better ride, and the new slim single backbone rear frame allows all the relevant components to be located nearer to the bike’s centre line. It also increases the bike’s payload from 180 to 200kg and the seat is wider, flatter and more comfortable than previously.
The bike’s overall dimensions remain essentially very similar to those of the outgoing models, ensuring that the handling characteristics that shone through on the earlier bikes aren’t diluted. This is not a motorcycle you’re going to let drop in the parking lot. The six-speed cassette transmission used in the Kawasaki 650 cc twins is superb, with well-chosen ratios.
Taking a closer look at the instrument panel it has also been brought right up to date with its 13 000 rpm rev counter (redlined at 11 000) along with a digital speedometer that’s exceptionally clear and easy to read at speed. Look harder and there’s a time clock, fuel gauge, dual trip meters, instant and average fuel consumption readouts and an Economical Riding Indicator (ERI) to encourage you to save money while you have fun!
The Kawasaki ER-6n and ER-6f come with a two-year unlimited distance warranty. Ticket price of the ER-6n is R75 995, while the fully faired “f” will set you back R79 995.
Motor: twin 650cc, liquid-cooled
Power: 53kW @ 8500 rpm
Torque: 64Nm @ 7000 rpm
0-100km/h: 5.5 sec (est.)
Top Speed: 215 km/h (est.)
Final drive: O-ring sealed chain
Priced from R75 995