KAWASAKI ER-6F (2012 - 2017) Review

Highlights

  • An all-rounder for the masses
  • A great first big bike
  • Works on track and on the daily commute

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £110
Power: 70 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.7 in / 805 mm)
Weight: Medium (461 lbs / 209 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £3,300 - £4,800

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Kawasaki ER-6f was already a very popular bike and thankfully the company didn't feel the need to radically alter it, but rather improve its slight failings and make a good bike even better.

For 2012 the chassis and looks were improved and the fairing added an element of practicality that its naked brother, the ER-6n, was lacking. The seat height was low, engine punchy and fun and the handling light. In or out of town, the ER-6f was a brilliant commuter and a great first big bike. What’s not to like?

What's the Kawasaki ER-6F like to live with?

During 2015 MCN ran a Kawasaki ER-6F as a long-term test bike. Simon Brown was the lucky rider, and he summed up his time with the bike like this: 

"Starting with the basics, I can happily report that the Kawasaki is a sturdy creature, despite its relatively budget price of £5649 (£6049 if you go for the one with ABS). 

"Nothing broke down and the cosmetics held up well – I protected it from winter with ACF50 corrosion resistance solution, paying special attention to exposed metal on fastenings, banjo connections and the like, applying it with a cloth if I was working anywhere near the brakes. 

Kawasaki ER6F long-term test showed how good the bike is to live with

"I was particularly keen on the side-mounted rear shock, its location making cleaning and adjustment incredibly easy (plus the shock itself doesn’t get encrusted with crud thrown up from the rear wheel when the weather turns nasty).

"More importantly than all of this, I learned that smaller bikes can be just as much fun as their more meaty counterparts. I’ve had big-capacity machines even the past, even an ill-judged spell on a Kawasaki ZX-12R. 

"But where ultra-powerful machines leave me feeling embarrassed that I am just scratching the surface of the available performance, the Kawasaki ER-6f delivered the satisfaction of knowing you are really using what it has on offer – exploring the cheeky end of the rev range without scaring myself or putting my licence in serious peril. 

"Of course there is nothing slow about the ER, as proved by the fact they are raced in the Lightweight at the Isle of Man TT.

"And that parallel-twin engine is a total peach, with just enough character to remind you that you aren’t on a generic inline-four without the lumpy bottom end of a big V-twin.

"The received wisdom might be that the ER-6f is a great first bike or commuter, but for me it’s a whole lot more. It’s a proper fun ride and I’ll definitely miss it."

In 2017 the ER-6f was replaced by the Kawasaki Ninja 650.

Watch: Kawasaki ER6F video review

Tester Adam Child gets to grips with the ER6F in this video review.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With its suspension slightly firmer than the ER-6n, the ER-6f felt a touch sportier to ride. In town it was just as adept at absorbing potholes, however when the pace increased outside the city’s streets the ER-6f was surprisingly agile with predictable, stable and light handling.

The fairing is reasonable effective at deflecting the worst of the weather and more importantly it gave the ER-6f a cool sporty look. Like the ER-6n, anyone over 5ft 2in would have no problem reaching the floor, making it a very reassuring bike to ride at low speed.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The small changes Kawasaki made to the ER-6f’s fuel-injection settings and ECU increased the parallel twin’s spread of torque and made it feel even punchier and quicker to accelerate.

There was a different rasp from the more angular exhaust and the 650 fired off the throttle with near-perfect fuelling. For newer riders the engine was friendly when needed to be, yet get it going and it was deceptively fast, which was satisfying for more experience riders. It was not intimidating in the least, just faster than you would expect of such a relaxed machine.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The engine was reliable but the build quality and finish can often come in for criticism and the fairing is known to rattle.

Our Kawasaki ER-6F owners' reviews show mainly positive comments, with a few related to poor build quality but only minor issues. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Whether you want a capable commuter or a bike for weekend thrills, the ER-6f can give you both. It may 'only' be a 600 but it's a bike that's accessible and fun for everyone.

Group test verdict: Kawasaki ER-6F vs Honda NC700S vs Suzuki SV650S

First published 25 July 2012 by Adam Child

Kawasaki ER-6F vs Suzuki SV650S vs Honda NC700S

If you’re new to bikes jump on any three of these bikes for the first time and they’ll more than take your breath away. It’s worth remembering that Steve Hislop won the 1991 Supersport TT averaging 114.28mph, slower than the ER-6f racer now goes in the Lightweight.

The 135mph true top speed is not to be sniffed at, and both the SV and ER will out accelerate a performance car, with even the 80mpg Honda out-dragging most family cars from the traffic lights. 0-100mph in less than 10 seconds, 0-60 in less than 5 seconds, all from a bike costing 5k or less!

That not exciting enough for you? Try and find a car that can match that performance... Exciting and fun, yet economical at every point they approach your wallet, doing 150 miles or more on £10 worth of fuel, any of these bikes is more fun and more frugal than any train commute.

I’ve owned and raced many bikes, but I’m still excited every time I ride my TT Kawasaki ER-6 (only 13bhp up on the quoted power of the stock bike). Without massive power it doesn’t scare me every time I ride it, it’s fun easy to ride and manageable, isn’t mentally tiring and doesn’t eat tyres every weekend.

The same can be said for these bikes here: fun without breaking the bank balance.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The dash had a fuel gauge, eco mode display and the petal discs were a nice touch. ABS was an optional extra.

Long-term test: Winter with the Kawasaki ER-6F

Kawasaki ER-6F long-term test report about modifying for winter

Winter’s on the way – so I’ve treated my Kawasaki ER-6f to a new screen in a bid to gain some extra weather protection. And, so far the results are promising. 

The screen is a double-bubble job from Skidmarx (£54.95 www.skidmarx.co.uk) and was an absolute breeze to fit. It’s a simple task of undoing four screws, taking off the old screen, putting the new one in position and putting the screws back in. The only thing to watch is that the translucent nylon washers can be a pain to find if you drop one on the floor. You’ve been warned.

The Kawasaki’s original screen was already pretty good, but I’ve found the aftermarket one does an even better job of deflecting wind away from my chest (the ER’s relatively upright riding position means that you don’t need much in the way of windblast to keep the weight off your wrists).

On the topic of winter, I’ve been treating metalwork to Muc-Off bike spray as part of the regular cleaning regime. To date the roads haven’t been too salty, but I am keen to keep the finish in decent condition.  So far, it’s holding up well.

The bike, which is now nudging the 4000-mile mark, is a frugal little beast, too. The last fill-up saw the twin return just over 56mpg. I have seen better figures at times, it depends on the sort of riding I am doing. Keep the revs down and 60mpg plus isn’t out of the question.

Specs

Engine size 649cc
Engine type Four-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC, 8v parallel twin
Frame type Twin tube steel perimeter
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 805mm
Bike weight 209kg
Front suspension 41mm conventional forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Side mounted shock, adjustable preload
Front brake 2x300mm petal discs. Tokico two-piston calipers
Rear brake 1x220mm petal disc, single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70ZR17
Rear tyre size 160/60ZR17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £110
New price -
Used price £3,300 - £4,800
Insurance group 10 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 70 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 150 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Launched in 2005, the ER-6f was updated in 2009 with revised frame and styling. It went off sale in 2017, replaced by the Ninja 650

Other versions

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ER-6F (2012 - 2017)

11 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ER-6F (2012 - 2017) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI ER-6F (2012 - 2017)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Equipment: 3.6 out of 5 (3.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £110
5 out of 5 KAWASAKI ER650F GREAT 1ST BIG BIKE!
10 September 2021 by Cory Graham

Year: 2013

Annual servicing cost: £78

I would recommend the Kawasaki ER650F as your first bike after passing your test. It's was the bike that my instructors used for full licence training and I have seen a few stunt riders on the ER650F. Fun bike, easy to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I would say you need to break about an hour.

Engine 5 out of 5

Fast acceleration.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

The exhaust and lime green colour.

Buying experience: Can't remember price, traded in Yamaha R125 that I used for 2 years and never lost any money on it.

4 out of 5 One of the best mid-range bikes for the price
01 November 2018 by Paul

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

Best feature is the engine, strong mid-range & top end performance, rev-happy and properly quick if you ring it out. Good MPG but quite a small tank, just 16 litres. Less good is the one-piece exhaust as it stops me just swapping just the can. I've got used to no gear indicator but in this sector of the market, there's no excuse for it not being standard fit.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

ABS is not standard & the brakes are not the bike's best feature as they are built to a price. Wavy front discs are a nice touch though.

Engine 4 out of 5

Punchy, revvy & very fast for a mid-range big bike. Less buzzy than older ER6 models due to revised rubber mounts etc, but still quite vibey at times. It's a brilliant power plant, but doesn't sound very special.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

No problems in first 5,000 miles, hope it continues thus.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5

very basic standard spec.

Buying experience: bought new from a dealer, typically average experience.

4 out of 5 Good, fun & deceptively quick
11 October 2018 by Paul

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

Deceptively quick and corners beautifully, a great do-it-all machine. Good points: punchy engine that loves to rev, low running costs, makes a great sports bike or sports-tourer. Bad points: doesn't make a great sound & exhaust is a daft one-piece so you can't just swap the can, fuel tank a bit small. Overall a great, friendly and fast bike.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Strong engine, front forks a bit low-rent but great value new or used.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5

gear indicator would benefit new riders & ABS is an extra

Buying experience: Average dealer customer service.

5 out of 5 The do-it-all midrange sports commuter!
30 June 2017 by Richard

Version: ABS

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £200

What a fantastic bike, having ridden many bikes (KLE500, Transalp 650, Fazer 600, BT1100 & Pan European 1100) I wanted something that could do it all. Commute, city riding, thrashing day trips and touring. This covers all bases very well. It looks great first off, pulling off a sports bike look but feeling upright and comfortable when riding, it is extremely agile and flicks side to side very well making overtaking, filtering and slow maneuvering ( without the fear of dropping it) a breeze. Being a popular bike there are many options and accessories to add making it very adaptable and customisable to suit your needs. Being 6ft 2' I was vary I may feel cramped but it is not an issue, I have ridden 150 miles in one stint without cramping up. I recently took the bike to the Isle of Man TT fully loaded with soft panniers, having been a few times before I was able to hold off a bunch of 1000cc Sportbikes over the mountain section, it's midrange torque giving it a big advantage accelerating out of the corners. I would recommend this to any rider, being new or experienced, its an instantly usable and very friendly bike to control and enjoy.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

I'm yet to slam the brakes on to test the ABS fully, but the twin discs have done a grand job up till now, no complaints. Suspension a bit soft at first, which is easily adjusted. Very comfortable riding position, wind blast can be intense at motorway speeds but the screen is adjustable and aftermarket screens are available!

Engine 4 out of 5

I love the engine, 70bhp on a light and nimble bike?! Glorious! Its midrange is great, 3000-7000rpm and it pulls really really well with a low grunt, I easily equal my friends 95bhp Fazer 600 in acceleration as he has to hit 6000rpm before his starts going. Riding like a thug the ER6F hits 70mph in second, 90mph in third. I've currently hit a top speed of 120mph but haven't had the chance to scream it for longer than 10 seconds. Being sensible the bike purrs in 6th gear at 60mph at 4000rpm, 70mph at 5000rpm and 80mph at 6000rpm. Redline is 11000rpm. My only minor complaint is a tiny flat spot around 3500-3700rpm in 3rd or 4th when commuting, however this may just be my bike. Fuel economy is okay, for all types of riding combined I am averaging 55mpg. Riding economically (55mph in 6th gear) I got 210 miles out of the tank.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

No reliability issues at all. The only minor issue is one of the fairing does not quite lineup on the right hand side leaving a tiny gap (few mm, hardly notice it), compared to the left side. Otherwise all other components are spot on, feeling solid and secure. Treat it with ACF50 and you won't get corrosion.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Servicing to keep the warranty is a con, especially as they overcharge you for basically looking at the bike and prodding it. But has to be done 'just in case'. I have changed the oil and filter a few weeks after its service after they used 'Basic workshop oil' as stated on the receipt, I wanted some good quality stuff in my engine from Castrol.

Equipment 4 out of 5

I've raised the windscreen but may add an aftermarket one to eliminate a bit more wind from my face. I added a fender extender as the stock length is useless, it now does a great job. I added a radiator guard which was fiddly but now looks and works well, before I added it a few stones had already made a few dings in the radiator thanks to the crappy stock fender size (mudguard). I have added a top box for practical issues, I use this bike everyday. The stock tyres are satisfactory, having tipped it into a corners on the Isle of Man TT mountain section at 105mph they held just fine. However I don't feel as confident in the wet, I get less feedback from them, I may change to Michelin road Pilot 3/4 soon.

Buying experience: Bought from a dealer brand new at 0% finance with a £99 deposit, excellent!

4 out of 5 Clunky Gear box.
25 August 2016 by Andres Londono

Year: 2015

Shifting gear box is clunky, specially 1, 2nd and 3rd gear. It feels horrible.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Very confortable bike for long trips.

Engine 3 out of 5

The engine needs to be minimum at 5k RPM before anything happens. The shifting gear box definitely needs to be improved. Shifting gears feels horrible, specially 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. Is is not a smooth gear box at all and becomes uncomfortable at some point. You end up paying attention to the shifting instead of focusing on driving and enjoying the ride as it is supposed to be in a sport bike like this.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Dash is ok but needs gear shift indicator and outside temperature as well as a engine temperature gauge.

Buying experience: good price bike.

4 out of 5 Better Than Your Lead to Believe !!
21 November 2015 by Matt Collins

Year: 2014

Annual servicing cost: £94

I would definitely recommend this bike to anybody! Great to ride what ever your riding experience, surprisingly quick through the bends, I have embarrassed litre bikes before! the zero to 60 dash is under 4 seconds, zero to 30 is a little over 1 second, not much stays with you from the lights. ABS should be standard and not extra IMO, and the standard exhaust looks great but sounds average, it's also a one piece design so is pricey to change.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Comfort is first class, town or A/B roads are a blast. I'm loving this bike !

Engine 5 out of 5

Grunt in any gear, I've set off in 3rd before there's that much torque. Smooth engine, I've never noticed any vibrations to talk about, the inline fours I've ridden vibe more. Doesn't run out of pull until you're up near the redline.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Not a problem with the starting riding of the bike, very reliable. The fairings have some small gaps that should/could have a rubber seal fitted, which would finish it off for me

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Economy is good, I don't hang about and am getting 58mpg (true mpg not off the trip computer)

Equipment 3 out of 5

Standard tyres are "OK" rear lasted 5.5k miles, the eco meter is pointless I would have much rather have had a gear indicator, although you manage quite easily without one because of the torque the motor offers. The fuel computer is excellent, it shows fuel level, range at current speed, current mpg, and average mpg (which is only just under what its actually doing so reasonably accurate)

Buying experience: Bought new from a dealer, buying was a pretty painless affair, £5.2k on the road... I like a deal me :o)

4 out of 5
21 September 2015 by yaya

Year: 2015

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 James H
11 September 2015 by James Hodgson

Year: 2013

I had to give up bikes more or less straight after passing my test 25 years ago having only ridden 125's and decided to go back to biking only recently after promotion at work. I would recommend this bike to new/returning riders to get used to riding a larger machine as it isn't insanely quick, but has a decent amount of go for the rider to be able enjoy the experience of a blast out on main roads and get the 'big bike' experience but it also has a wide range power and therefore is gentle and forgiving when pottering around town. It handles well, looks sporty and is quick enough for the roads (not sure about a track day though). I would have preferred the version with ABS for that extra added safety feature however I don't tend to ride in the wet. I would recommend fitting crash bungs on it as I had a minor 'off' whilst going slowly round a roundabout and the scraped engine case and faring cost my insurers over £1500 to fix I will look at a more sportier bike in the future now I've got the bug again - perhaps a ZX6R!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Would have preferred ABS version

Engine 4 out of 5

Thumpy, throaty parallel twin may not be to everyone's liking and takes a bit of getting used to and I find that the vibe through the grips can make my hands go numb after a while however it pulls strongly from low revs without cog swopping and has a good powerband for swift safe overtaking - I would however have preferred an inline 4 just for the noise!

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Good finish for the money

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Good on fuel if not thrashed

Equipment 4 out of 5

Well equipped for a budget bike

Buying experience: I got a bank loan and paid cash to a dealer

5 out of 5 Fantastic Bike - Most fun I've had on two wheels
01 September 2015 by Steve H

Version: ER6F

Year: 2015

I have had a few different bikes, Sportster 883, GPZ1100, Yamaha Thunder Ace 1000cc. I purchased this bike because I wanted a light weight, comfortable bike that would be fun to ride on weekend blasts, but easy enough for everyday use. All I can say is I am blown away by this bike. Its so easy to ride, very quick from a standing start, and can be flicked left and right through the twisties. I know this bike is listed as a first big bike, but don't let that put you off, its safe for a new rider, but fantastic fun if you want to push it. I have now problems keeping up with all the lads on their bigger bikes, especially when on a bendy road. Get one, you will love it.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 Good little all rounder
09 July 2014 by KayTannee

I've had about 3 ER-6Fs over the years among other bikes. It was my first and after a detour around some other bikes, I'm now back with one. I traded in a ZX-6R to go back to it. So lets compare, I do miss the top speed and it doesn't corner anywhere near as nicely. But... it doesn't do that bad of a job and it's still stupidly quick off the line in the low speeds. But with its upright riding position, its so much more comfortable, along with a quite comfy seat, including pillion. Filtering and commuting through traffic is so easy with its great turning, light and nippy body. With a few extras it's also a nice baby tourer, with top box and givi side panniers - When fully loading though, be prepared to adjust lights and preload - but once done gets the job done. Now for the negatives, The Mirrors. ... Get mirror extenders, otherwise the mirrors are awful. Once done though, they're acceptable. The stock factory tyres, they're not particularly grippy in the wet or even dry. The negatives, are the mirrors. They are awful. Get mirror extenders for them as a priority. Also the stock tyres are pretty terrible in the wet too. Anyhow, great starter bike, commuter, baby tourer (With addons). Not a good sports bike, but then it isn't one, even though has the looks.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 Ticks most boxes
16 January 2014 by mdr1970

Back to biking after 23 years, after a BIG crash. Bought this bike to ease myself back in, and what a GREAT little machine it is. You get what you pay for + SOooo much more! It's got a punchy little engine that gets you to 60 in a little over 4secs. It's good for just under 130mph. If you cruise with the eco light on (Under 6K revs = approx 80mph) it'll return 60mpg! Sporty looks, with an upright, comfortable riding position. The only thing I didn't like is/was the sound of the parallel twin engine. Aftermarket Scorpion = Job done! Happy to recommend this as a first big bike to anyone recently passing their test, or as a fun/comfortable/economical/cheap insurance bike for leisure & commuting for the seasoned rider.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
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