Speedo bathing suits, topless beaches, statues without clothing; no matter which way you cut it, Europeans just have a more casual and accepting approach when it comes to nudity (Hear, hear, Ed,). While North Americans are forgiven for questioning their bizarre penchant for scantily-clad male swim wear, one thing they shouldn’t be shy about experiencing from Europe is the naked motorcycle. A beloved staple of European culture, the streetfighter has never been received as warmly on our fair shores as it has been across the pond, but has recently started to gain steam. Based on the new-for-’09 Kawasaki Ninja 650R
, the ER-6n is yet another addition to this emerging North American segment.
|Minimal fairing, stylish engine, simple design, and a general impression of lightness and agility - a fun bike that behaves just like it looks.
The ER-6n (n for naked) shares the same steel-trellis frame, offset lay-down rear single shock with adjustable pre-load, and tubular-steel swingarm as the 650R, which was designed to offer extra rigidity to balance the frame’s increased flex. This revised balance over previous 650Rs allows a degree of flexibility for improved handling, and is almost as light as a comparable aluminum-alloy frame. The similarities don’t stop there, as both bikes also use the same 649cc parallel-twin powerplant. The Twin motor changed slightly for ’09 as well, with revised ECU mapping and the addition of a larger airbox that are naturally passed on to the 2010 model.
With all of the apparent similarities between these two siblings however, the biggest dissimilarity between the two is in the body work, or lack thereof in the case of the ER-6n. Opinions of the ER-6n’s fairing-free mug will likely find themselves divided into two columns aptly named, “love it” and “hate it.” While some may find it edgy and aggressive, others will find its appearance curiously akin to an arachnid. Neither camp will be particularly inaccurate, but to each their own. The ER-6n uses softer springs and damping settings than its sportier sibling with a variable suspension that allows riders to adjust spring preload.
The peak output of 63 horsepower at 8,800 rpm and 43 ft-lbs of torque at 7,200 rpm mean that the ER is likely responsive enough for most riders needs. It may not be a supersport, but it’s torquey enough to be boatloads of fun, whether navigating traffic in a straight line or leaning over to negotiate the twistiest of turns.
Amateur riders will surely appreciate the short wheelbase, agile handling and unintimidating seat height of 785mm, while experienced riders will be unlikely to find themselves getting bored of throwing it into the corners. Everyone will enjoy the approachable price point of $8,249. The Suzuki Gladius
and SV 650, and Yamaha FZ6R
, all likely to find themselves on the same shopping lists, ring up the register at a higher number.
|The riding position fits (almost) all, a pleasure in a busy urban environment as well as on a twisty road.