2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R & ER-6n - First Look

Kawasaki makes more of its 650cc Twin.

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R & ER-6n - First Look

When you've got something that works, why not look for an easy way to get it to more people? That's the question the people at Kawasaki must have been asking themselves, and their answer came out in the form of the oddly named 2009 Kawasaki ER-6n. This naked streetbike utilizes the same chassis and engine combo that underpins the likeable 2008 Kawasaki Versys 650—Kawi's quasi-adventure bike with the longer-suspension travel (unchanged for '09 with the exception of now being California-legal)—and the sensibly sporty Ninja 650R.

Both the ER-6n and the revised-for-2009 Ninja 650 share many evolutionary changes. There's a new tank shape and seat to improve ergonomics and make it easier for shorter riders to touch at least toes down at stop signs. Very low-effort controls were a design mandate of these models from the start, and that carries over onto the '09 model—you don't need big mitts to pull the clutch or work the throttle. And as compliant as the engine is, some complained that the 650cc eight-valve parallel-Twin was a bit buzzier than they would have liked. But instead of quelling it at the source (expensive), Brand K's engineers went after the bad vibes further down the line. The frame itself has revised stiffness (more rigid here, less there) and the rear engine mount is now rubber instead of solid. Rubber handlebar mounts and footpeg coverings further insulate rider and passenger from buzz. Hey, maybe the "ER" in ER-6n stands for "Extra Rubber?"

The 2009 Ninja 650R gets a new upper fairing, wider windshield and a lower seat to further improve rider comfort. Kawasaki replaced the catalytic converter with a lighter (yet more efficient) unit and there's an all-new gauge package you can play with at intersections. Bottom line: The $6399 ER-6n is functionally identical to the $6799 Ninja, but there's less bodywork to replace after your first trackday get-off.

Why call the bike an ER-6n and not a Z650? Kawasaki decided not to use their "Z" prefix to let us know that this is mostly an unfaired streetbike, but our guess at this early point is that with the Z1000 pulled from the lineup, it made sense to move on.

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R

2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R