KAWASAKI ER-5 (1996 - 2007) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£100|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Kawasaki ER-5 has a straightforward parallel-twin middleweight commuter that’s as easy to use as a pair of pants. As a cheap workhorse you won’t find much wrong with the Kawasaki ER-5 - providing your expectations don’t go beyond simply getting from A to B.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Kawasaki ER-5 is better than most of its rivals. But that’s not saying much and Honda’s CB500 beats it hollow in most respects. The Kawasaki ER-5 brakes are particularly woeful and pillions only make matters worse. Rider comfort is good on the ER-5 and the gearbox is fine for the first few winters.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Kawasaki ER-5's DOHC parallel-twin doesn’t want for pluck, and around town it makes the most of what power it has. However, raise your ambitions even slightly and the Kawasaki ER-5's motor feels ever so wheezy. Motorways are not it’s forte and the ER-5 struggles to cope two-up without a fairing.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
‘Poor’ is the best way to describe the build qualityo f the Kawasaki ER-5 To stay on top of the corrosion you’ll need to wash the Kawasaki regularly and spray with a water-dispersing spray religiously, especially if used over winter. Electrical problems are another bugbear with the ER-5.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Despite its shortcomings the Kawasaki ER-5 is frugal on fuel, cheap to insure and its tyres last for ages. Secondhand prices are low, making the ER-5 perfectly viable as a winter hack and a more than satisfactory commuter. Find a Kawasaki ER-5 for sale.
Kawasaki's ER-5 is about as basic as you can get, though some aftermarket crash bars is a common addition. The only bolt-on that’s worth it’s salt for the Kawasaki ER-5 is a Scottoiler, to help eke out chain life and reduce maintenance.
|Engine type||4v, parallel-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Steel tube double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||17 litres|
|Front brake||Single 280mm disc|
|Rear brake||240mm drum|
|Front tyre size||110/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||140/70 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||46 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£67|
|Annual service cost||£100|
|Used price||£1,000 - £1,500|
8 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||48 bhp|
|Max torque||33 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||14.9 secs|
|Tank range||170 miles|
Model history & versions
1996: Kawasaki ER-5 introduced.
2001: Kawasaki ER-5 re-styled.
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ER-5 (1996 - 2007)
40 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ER-5 (1996 - 2007) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£100|
Yes would recommend to a friend, does what you would expect of it, not really good at anything but not bad at anything, frugal and dependable, does make a good second bike.
Buying experience: Bought second hand a year ago, privately. Cheap on fuel (60mpg) parts are plentiful both new and second hand, I had the faulty fuel tap problem but its easy to convert the tap to manual operation and do away with the vacuum option. A great little work horse, brakes are fine for the given performance I think and gearbox is one of the best I've had. Yes it's a bit boring but dependable.
Does what it says on tin, reliable, dont neglect servicing id say. Brakes poor Perfomance average Still fun Handles well (ive done all the bearings)
Brakes, should be better, however back to servicing! Are they as good as they can be, criticism can come from poorly maintained or shall we say borderline safe. Bleed brakes, good pads will make a difference, aftermarket brakelines are options.
Bought as secpnd bike for inclement weather, use the gearbox fairly and its not too bad for perfomance.
22year old bike but not too scruffy, a bit of tarting up hear and there.
Most of it I have done myself. Balancing carbs and valves cost about £170. Make sure valves are done on a cold engine.
Everything works still, I look after it, has been a hobby.
Buying experience: Ebay, paid £100 more than I wanted but it was auction. Be careful view bike if possible,
Not a bad first big bike if it wasn't for some pretty big electrical issues.
Not bad exactly but definitely not great. It's comfy enough for long journeys but will seriously come up short when ridden hard or when two up. I'm not sure if it was just mine but it felt a little sketchy 'til I was used and the brakes. There are modern 125s with better so don't worry about locking up, they literally don't have enough bite for it to be possible.
Under-stressed and reliable if a little dull, there's a nice little surge of torque at about 6000rpm that should keep newer riders entertained for a while but other than that it can be described as workhorse-like at best.
Easily the ER-5's biggest weakness. The engine and other components are sound but the electrics are a serious issue, check the regulator/rectifier and watch for a strange smell after a long ride that will indicate a battery overcharge and reg/rec failure. Plenty of you will already know this but for anyone buying this as a first bike it's useful info I wish I had when I had my ER-5.
Easy to work on, low stress, parts cost pennies and the insurance is crazily cheap (19-years-old, just past my test, one year NCB) £400 third party, fire and theft. You can pick up a decent one for about a grand but they can be pretty thirsty when ridden hard especially noticeable if your upgrading form a 125cc.
Very bare bones; speedo, tachometer, oil and temperature warning lights and that's about it. It does have a fuel gauge but it's got almost nothing to do with the actual contents of the tank, there is a centre stand, some luggage hooks and a helmet lock as well which are all pretty useful.
This is my second er500 I sold my first one and always regretted. Some say the cb500 is a better bike so I tested one in my opinion it's not as good, not as comfy and felt slower. If you want a cheap do anything bike get a er 500
This is a great bike. Mine has jetted carbs and a Delkevic exhaust, LED flowing indicators and an HID headlight. It's great for blasting round town an commuting too.
Upgraded front disc to wavey and fitted bigger caliper.
Up jetted carbs an a good balance
Delkevic exhaust with stainless pipes and carbon fibre end can worth every penny.
Annual servicing cost: £100
Bought this bike as a first big bike for the girlfriend but rode it around myself whilst she was a learner. Well the bike really grew on me I put a screen, braided brake hoses and tail pipe on it. What a hoot it is especially around town and on short runs. I own a couple of bigger, newer, more modern bikes but often found myself choosing the ER5.
Put braided brake hose on.
If you like parallel twins and don't want millions of horse power you can't go wrong.
Never let me down.
Service it myself. Easy home maintenance.
Bought my ER5 for £750 quid and it needed a bit of love and TLC, I had to replace the exhaust for it to pass the MOT so now it has a racing can on it and it makes me grin everytime i go off the throttle it spits and crackles and spits flames. There is a lot of life in the old girl! I am 20 and my only previous bike experience had been on 125cc which i didnt really like riding much due to lack of power. The ER5 is quick off the line and handles like a dream and is very light and throw able if it trusts you and you trust it. I use it back and fore to work everyday and it can easily get some speed up, sits at 70-80 with no issue and can do 100 easily too. Its been a great first big bike for me, I know i will keep it and i will use it as a work bike whilst i buy a second one.
Good at what it does. I had mine for free and the plan was to fix it up and sell it but 4 years later i'm still using it as a commuter bike for work. Mine has done 63,000 but still pulls well, doesn't smoke or use oil. Its a low bike so if you suffer in the height department then this will inspire confidence.
basic brakes and suspension but they do the job. The seat tends to push you towards the tank and the standard bars i found uncomfortable so i changed them but that could just be me, most people manage fine with standards. Good quality tyres make a difference, with good rubber it does handle very well and is very chuckable
about 50 bhp, it will pull under 5rpm but makes most of its power from 5.500 rpm onwards and does try quite hard after 7/8 rpm. It will sit at 80mph but with no screen it's hard work so i put a screen on.
Had the common fuel tap fault so changed it but apart from that its been faultless
Getting about 51 mpg commuting to work but i don't ride to save fuel, if you rode it nice you would get more.
basic but for the price you cant expect anything else. Mines a very early one but the later ones had a fuel gauge though i've heard it not very accurate.
I'm not a massive fan of parallel twins. They are a bit crude and this one sounds like a bag of spanners at tickover. However give it some beans and it gives a nice drive train noise. The rest of the bike is basic but it doesn't look too bad. The engine, swing arm, fork and rad cover finish is poor but mine is better than average. The one thing that has impressed me more than anything is the handling.You can really chuck it about and it is very forgiving. Obviously sorted forks, shocks, bearings, tyres etc help a lot (which mine has). It has had a couple of the known faults. The previous owner had to replace the regulator. Be careful when this goes because it can fry the tachometer and these are not that easy to get hold of. Mine also suffered petcock failure which was an expensive breakdown due to the damage done. The only solution is to replace it (I wouldn't bother to refurbish it, it isn't worth it). I also had the floats replaced as a precaution as these are known to have problems too. Mine has come with a full service history which is like gold dust on a bike like this of this age. It has been well looked after and it's got a few more years in it before old bike syndrome kicks in. Overall it's not a bad bike and for £900 or so it is worth a punt especially if you can find one with some service history. The CB500 is better but it's hard to find a decent one for less than £1500 in my experience.
Despite comments in the main review, I think the brakes are fine. There is only one front caliper but it makes servicing easier and cheaper which is what this bike is all about. The best feature of this bike by far is the handling. It is forgiving and flexible and inspires confidence in the rain. A decent set of Bridgestones helps too of course :)
Basic old tech lump that picks up quite well but lacks character.
One expensive breakdown so far due to petcock failure.
Easy peasy to service yourself and consumables are not too expensive. I'm not even going to bother buying a Haynes manual for this one.
No fuel or temp gauge on the early model which is annoying. This is a budget bike though.
Buying experience: I bought it from a dealer. It was an honest bike and they had prepared it well for sale and knocked £100 off. It came with a full MOT and a decent top box. No complaints.
Great first big bike
I got this bike cheap as a second bike for work. I have to say I've come to love the old girl, mines a very early one (r reg) but its such an easy bike to ride. The engine pulls well, its no race bike but then again it was never sold as one, the brakes are ok, the rear i hardly use as it has so much engine braking. If your only used to riding 4 cylinders it will take a bit to get used to. They do suffer form the carbs flooding as a result of the petcock failing and sticking permanently on (they are a vacuum tap) and they flood into the engine breather in the airbox and into the oil, a simple modification stops this (check er5 forums) and i also changed the petcock for a normal on/off/reserve one. It will cruse at 70/80 easy enough and put 100 mph on the clock when the need takes though they dont do a lot more. I like riding the 500 and in some ways its more pleasing screaming the 500 and getting the best out of it than it is riding a modern sports bike as on the road you are riding them well within there limits. all in all if your looking for a reliable cheap way back to bikes or a good commuter you wont go far wrong with the er :)
I have had an ER5 for 2 yrs , only a couple of minor repairs , never let me down , easy on tyres , economical 65 mpg, the engine is bulletproof , I will keep it until it dies
Have had mine for about 3 seasons. It has been nothing but a pain in the a**. Had uncountable amount of problems with it. Typical faults are the petcock and lack of fuel filter. Although I have not ridden it much in rain many of the connections have corroded so much that they have killed the engine often. The airbox overflow is not big enough so with any problems fuel will flow to the engine. I have had more than 6 litres taken out more than once. Other than that to ride it is great. Perfect for a beginnger or commuter. Physically a bit small for a 185 cm guy for more than 100 miles. The legs cramp up and the seat is not too comfy. Other than the big problems it's easy to maintain and easy to ride and can be a lot of fun.
I bought this bike because it was cheap and less ugly than the other cheap bikes. I added a small windshield and luggage rack and took it from Plymouth, UK to Copenhagen, DK. It's worked out OK too because it always starts, is easy to manoeuvre and is surprisingly quick off the lights. Always leaves a big grin on my face when some poor fella in a new M3 gets handed his bum by a 10 year old bike that cost me 700 quid. It's still a tractor though and I've started looking for something more exciting. I'll likely keep it as my trusty backup as well.
i was given my er5 as a wreck, i thought fix it up, sell it and move on. i give it a full service (valve clearances ect) , cleaned and balanced the carbs and once i'd used it for work for a week or so i decided to keep it. it starts first time, can sit at 70/80 on the motorway and is cheep to run. The brakes are basic (mines the early a1 model) but i removed the plastic piston inserts (only fitted to the early er's) cleaned the pistons, fitted new seals, flushed the system and put in so good quality fluid and it stops well now. The bike is so easy to ride too, i throw it about like a 125. Its no pocket rocket but it was never meant to be, but its still quick enough and will put 100 mph on the clock easy enough. I've been riding all sorts of bikes over my 25 years experience and think the er is one of them under rated bikes.
...but it’s not a great bike. I’ve had the misfortune of riding several examples of these machines and they are as basic as a classic without the class. The main bugbear comes with changing gear. Out of the three ER5’s I’ve ridden ALL THREE had problems changing up into top gear and two out of three had problems changing down into 2nd. The equipment is basic but does the job of telling you how fast you’re going if little else. Two of the examples I’ve ridden had problems with the fuel warning light either coming on when the tank is nearly full or not working at all. Yes it can be a cheap 2nd hand bike but I would prefer to spend similar money on an early model ER6 which is a vast improvement over the 5. If you’re looking for a reliable winter hack then why not look for a Kawasaki GT550 or 90’s/early 2000 Yamaha Diversion as they both sport low maintenance shaft drive and bulletproof engines.
This bike is bulletproof. It may seem boring to 600 cc + owners but compared to my previous overpriced 125 cc experiences this thing is a blast. I am a student and I needed a cheap straight forward bike that will start from the firtst try even when it s freezing ballz outside and it does just that. On the highway it easily maintains a steady 95 - 100 mph which on average is enough to take over loads of 1000 cc + midlife crisis riders who pretend to be way faster ! A real 600 cc + hooligan will blow you away though but these encounters are rare. I am 20 years old and am looking forward to a faster more hooligan styled bike now but be assured that with some riding skill the er-5 will take over any scooter, bike or car in the real world. Only thing I regretted was that it sounds and looks so boring. Recently though I accidently got a cut in the exhaust ( after one of many small crashes... Bike does need better brakes ) just in front of the muffler and I swear to god it sounds like a harley. Some bar end mirrors also make a world of difference Cheers ecto
Very underrated little bike these. I owned one back in 2007 and in two years and 10'000 miles i never had a single issue with it. Never used a drop of oil and was VERY economical.. Even handled a pillion well on longer runs. Engine is nice and punchy around town but gets a bit breathless when you up the pace a bit. Can't expect miracles with 50bhp though! Handling is ok and even the single disc, rear drum is acceptable. Referring to the review i don't know about the CB500 beating the ER hollow... I've rode a CB and i didn't think there was much between them to be honest. Maybe slightly better brakes on the Honda but i don't think it's worth paying the extra for a CB if you're looking to buy in this class. The ER is up to the job.
My wifes bike, I have gone through x3 bikes in the past 9 yrs, all were around £1500 650cc - 750cc, but this wee bike has never let us down. I use it for work rest and play, we have gone too a few rallies 2-up fully loaded tent sleeping bags camping stove and beer, sits ok on motorway at 70mph, handles A and B roads. I took it too Isle o Man, cause i knew it would get me home safely, I sat with all sorts of sport bikes and held my own just fine. Great wee bike, good allrounder, keep it maintained and it'll keep on the road ok. Just remember its not a sports bike, it is what it is.
Its cool love it
and not much else, great first bike but you quickly get bored. It's a work horse and as such not too suitable for someone who wants a bike thier going to enjoy for a long time, it's a heavy lump, but it's still got enough to tear away from the lights leaving the cars in your wake
OK... It's never going to be one of those bikes that set the world alight but what more do you want. It's got a well proven twin cylinder engine that Kawasaki have been using since the dawn of time. Any garage can service it.. or.. service it yourself.. it's that easy.. Using the bike as a commuter is a breeze.. Get the bike in the wrong gear.. so what.. it will manage.. Very easy to ride and zip in and out of traffic. It's a light bike so easy for moving around and getting on to the centre stand. A nice upright riding position and a comfy seat that you couls sit on all day. It's low insurance, Good on fuel.. Could be the ultimate commuter! Minor niggles.. The brakes could do with a bit more feel but then again I suppose it stops you locking the wheels up.. It is geared guite low so it feels like you need another gear 65/70mph.. Overall: Its a basic bike but if you need a day to day reliable bike that won't break the bank.. get one of these...
Decided to commute by bike after 12 years of packing onto the train. I have the bike serviced every 4k miles, as per warranty requirements, which isn't cheap. Had 2 mirrors replaced due to silver disappearing, and the Starter clutch replaced, all on warranty, with no problems. Strengths: Reliability and MPG. Weaknesses: Expense of servicing by dealer, and frequency of servicing. If you buy a new car the first service is approx 18k miles, bike is every 4k.
First bike after passing my test in 2002, as I am only 5ft tall it was a low seat height, you can buy a lower seat for about £100. I got bike with only 322 miles on clock so more or less a new bike So good a bike I am awaiting my new 55 plate ER5. Strengths: Handles well on bends, will start first time no problem, great on fuel and cheap to insure, also parts are cheap and service charges are ok. Weaknesses: <br>Not great on motorways could be doing with a fairing, but new ER6 looks a lot better. Problem with stand cut off switch but a litle grease should cure any problem.
Bought 7 months ago for £400, with 28,000 miles on the clock and another 5000 miles added. Used nearly everyday as a second bike/commuter, I've found the ER5 to be the ideal tool. Easy to ride and cheap (if more than a little ratty) the little Kawasaki is great at putting a huge grin on my face! There is a perverse pleasure to be had out of riding this bike to its limit, something that I cannot get anywhere near on my Kwack ZX6R. It's proved to be capable of everything I've thrown at it and nothing exspensive has gone wrong beyond normal wear and tear. Strengths: The ER5 is reliable, rugged and very easy to ride. Weaknesses: The engine is needs to be kept in the top half of the rev range for rapid progress (not really what's it about though...), the brakes take some effort and the gearshift is pretty agricultural.
I ride ER-5 everyday, mostly commuting in London. Bike is lite and filtering is easy, sometimes scooters have to stop in tight gaps and I would suprise myself going throu, wondering how much tighter gaps I can take, and most of the time it will pass ! I bought it new 0 miles from George White for 2500£ which was 900£ off the list price, its a plate 54. I have riden it whole winter and this shows the weekest point of the bike, corrosion , all fasteners and bolts on suspension are white already after 4 months, but I did expect that as I read a lot of rewievs before I choose it against CB500 and GS500. I never liked the look of above two, ER-5 looks much liter and fresher, almost modern;) And hey for the price I could buy 2002 CB500. Engine is nice and quite flexible and when You wind it up above 5000 RPM it will make You smile, if the buzz on the handlebars will not put You off. Be delicate with the paint (thin like mist) Budget suspension make You ride wide. Strengths: Price, economy, weight, bulletproof jurrasic engine. Weaknesses: Corrosion, paint, suspension.
Bought ER5 new for under £3000 on the road, to use as hack to work. Took bit getting used to after my CBR600 and at first hated it. It is rough, runs like a tank, looks bit like one too. Now having done 12,000 miles on it in about 9 months through all weathers, I am used to it, and it does serve its purpose well. Very cheap to run, good mpg, and easy to service. Howvere the finish is really bad, and this has put me off buying any other Kawasaki. The forks, swingarms, engine, tank etc are all corroding. I do look after it washing the salt n crap off, but that seems a waste of time. Strengths: Cheap to run, insure etc. Easy to ride, reliable. Weaknesses: Very poor quality.
I have an ER-5 for winter hacking; my 'best' bike is a Harley Dyna Glide. Compared to the Dyna, the ER is frankly awful - or it should be. I keep telling everyone how much I hate it, but really, it does everything that I ask of it. Compared to the Harley and no doubt most other 'fancy' bikes, this thing is basically free, and mine has been 100% reliable in the 2 years that I've owned it - despite being cleaned about three times and having the most basic maintenance schedule possible! It was left for 6 months without being touched, I dug it out from all of the rubbish piled on top of it, and it started 1st prod. Can't do better than that, can you. Strengths: Cheap, handles pretty good, and HOW many miles to the gallon?? Loads! Weaknesses: Substantial, plus the paint finish (especially the engine) is terrible.
It's not got wrong in 23K, it's comfy, fun to ride and cheap cheap cheap! only negatives are the cheap finish on swing arm, exhaust and engine case, but then it is used all year round. Strengths: Reliability, simplicity, all roundness. Weaknesses: Finish and the brakes could be stronger.
Great first bike, used in all weathers, totally reliable, predicatble handling even in the wet, best looking 500, fast enough for everyday use but growing out of it. Seat height is just right, just make sure you keep it clean and the finishes are fine.
Lovely handling, really reliable and used all year. Sat in the shed once for four months and started first time. Little small for me at six foot one but comfy seat has meant three or four hour rides. Engine has plenty of poke at high revs for commuting fun, though you will grow out of it after a year or two - and brakes maybe aren't up to hooligan riding styles. Trade-in price for 2000 ER-5 in June 2002 (7000 on clock) was 1600 pounds. One warning: down pipes corrode real quick. No holes, but the rust comes and when it does the whole thing goes ... dealers are accepting of this, just part of the low cost. Keep it clean! Also, rust crept in where the seat rubs the tank and boots rubbed the colour off the plastics side protector thingies. Chain and sprockets fine after 7000 miles. Can't say anything positive about my dealer, though. Have moved on to a Suzuki Bandit 12 and a new dealer.<br>
A good first bike, but after 5 years ownership I'm ready for something better. Good at the traffic light grand prix (beaten every car so far). Naff exhaust noise, and poor finish - I have had to hammerite the swingarm due to corrosion. Exhaust pipes rust at the sight of salted roads as does the rear shocks and rear part of the frame. camchain tensioner needs frequent overhaul as it makes a clattering noise after approx 1.5 years use. Easy to work on and a good bike to learn home maintenance on. Engine takes all the abuse you can give it! and begs for more. I have fitted a full acerbis fairing which improves looks and gives twin headlights and good wind protection. on the whole a good first bike to learn the rpoes on, but you will be ready for a bigger one after a couple of years.
Like: easy to ride, cheap, fast enough Dislike: build quality, rear brake.
Generally excellent machine as far as handling and reliability. Engine needs more power (GPZ 60 Bhp!) plus it sounds naff. Top speed 115 mph (flat road/no wind) rock solid stability.<br><br>Strengths<br><br><br><br>Weaknesses<br><br>
Is ideal commuting bike with low running costs. Can keep up with traffic on motorway and the is very manouverable in heavy conjestion.
Commuter and second bike for bad weather. Solid, reliable but rides like a pogo stick.
My commuter. Very average bike really but love it for its wet weather handling and the fact that I don't care what happens to it. Cheap insurance via NU multi-bike policy ( £700 for 996,er5 and 100cc scooter!). Does 40miles commuting every day with no problems at all. Very comfy but crap front brake (may need braided hose ). Hanging on @ 110mph makes me giggle out loud.<br>
Great first bike, reasonable insurance, reliable (should be; it's pampered). Best looking 500. Build quality is good if looked after although I've seen some real basket cases. It's a good steady performer, but beware you'll want something better before long if you want it for more than the dailly commute.
Commute to London daily. Perfect bike for this. Quick enough to leave traffic behind, fair handing, brakes ok if you use both! Good upright riding position with good balance for low speed traffic carving. Cheap to insure. Have looked around for 'next' bike but will probably keep an ER-5 for commuting and get something totally different as well as.
Overall an excellent allrounder. Obviously not lightning-quick, but no slow-coach either; Fuel tank could be larger (16 litres = 180-190 before refill); Exhaust has gone "rust-coloured" - allegedly made from stainless steel - no holes yet though; Brakes are adequate; Bike is very easy to work on, only needs to be returned to dealer for major jobs (headstock bearings @ 25,000, new tyres every 10,000, fork seals @ 40,000; Will cruise at 70-80mph all day long. Overall, an excellent bike for those new to bikes, or those returning to biking after a forced interlude (e.g. marriage and kids!).<br><br>