When we learnt that Kawasaki wasn't just giving its popular ER6 range a slight update for 2012 but was almost completely revising them, first we wondered if it was strictly necessary. After all, both ERs (n for naked, f for faired) were already among the best middle-weight twins. Then, on seeing the bikes and realising how similar they looked to the old models and yet how different nearly every component was, we wondered what effect it might all have.
Now we know. Having ridden the new ER-6n it's clear it has been improved in every area - both in its ease of use and excitement, its build and its style.
To add fun Kawasaki has played around with the tried and trusted 649cc parallel twin engine. It remains virtually the same but they've improved the fuelling, via a new ECU and changed the underslung exhaust. This results in improved acceleration and a greater spread of torque.
Styling-wise it's a complete makeover from front to back. The new exhaust, which has increased bottom-end torque, is not only more efficient but exits higher, appearing more aggressive.
But the most dramatic change is the face of the new ER6. It's now very 'European' with new clocks, a 20mm higher tank and revised radiator shrouds that no longer incorporate the indicators. It's funky, cool, dare I say, almost Ducati- or Aprilia-like. Prices haven't been finalised yet, but it's expected to be about £5700, or about £50 more than the current model.
On the move, there's a different rasp from the more angular exhaust. Kawasaki claims it has increased low-to-midrange torque and provided a wider spread of power. The 650 fires off the throttle with near perfect fuelling. The new softer, suspension setup makes the most of the engine in town.
Read the full test in this week's MCN (October 19), on sale now.
Watch a quick video shot at the launch in Portugal to see the new Kawasaki ER-6n in action.