Turning to the least expensive motorcycle here, the $6399 Kawasaki ER-6n is basically a stripped down Ninja 650R, though Kawasaki prefers to call it a "middleweight streetfighter." The 6n shares the same 649cc parallel twin engine and transmission as the 650R and pulled 62.6 horsepower and 43.4 ft-lb of torque on the dyno. This translates into a fun and capable little powerplant with smooth power delivery, even if it doesn't have the bark to back its bite. "Engine is nice and peppy with decent acceleration, but the exhaust note sounds like an air compressor, which is definitely not very inspiring," says Kento.
In fact, 99 percent of the 6n is the same as its fully faired brother, the only differences being slightly softer springs in the front, half a degree less rake, and an overall shorter wheelbase. Looming 29.7 inches above ground, the seat is a definite advantage for the inexperienced. Handlebars are rubber mounted (to reduce vibration from the engine, which also uses rubber mounts) and placed high, giving a largely upright seating position which also makes maneuvering the bike easier. In direct contrast to the Ducati, the Kawasaki bars felt too narrow, "like I was riding a bicycle," notes Siahaan
"The best of the rest" in...
"The best of the rest" in terms of suspension, the ER-6n feels at home either in the canyons or cruising around town. Just pray you don't need to make a panic stop.
A narrow handlebar angle is...
A narrow handlebar angle is the exact opposite of the Ducati's, making for yet another awkward seating position. Otherwise ergos are mostly comfy, though the gauge cluster is hard to read.
To cut costs Kawasaki skimped in the suspension and brake department, equipping this bike with dual 300mm petal-type rotors mated to twin-piston pin-slide calipers. During everyday commuting the binders are adequate at best; initial bite is numb but the moderate braking power eventually brings the action to a halt. Pick up the pace a little and things start to get scary. The numb initial bite is then met with a sense that there's no way the bike will stop in time. Squeeze the lever harder and it feels like the rubber lines are expanding instead of delivering fluid to the calipers. The trick is maintaining pressure on the lever and keeping the faith-the bike will stop. If anything will put off the new rider, this is it (though steel-braided lines and a change in pads could be the remedy).
When negotiating corners the Kawi is light on its feet; direction changes are quick but are hampered by the OE Bridgestone sport-touring tires. Most felt the non-adjustable front fork worked well with the preload-adjustable rear shock, giving a compliant ride in all but the most extreme conditions. Something a potential owner of this bike probably wouldn't be facing. Speaking of faces, we had some issues with the ones on the gauge cluster. The analog speedometer is difficult to read at a glance as is the digital tachometer. We do like the fuel gauge and are sure that most riders out there would appreciate that as well.
For a tick over six large the Kawasaki ER-6n is an incredible value that delivers amazing bang for your buck. With just the right amount of power and a capable chassis, this is a great bike to learn the ropes on. Sure the bike is buzzy on long rides and the brakes should be the first item on the lists of upgrades, but for that price how can you go wrong?