Video: Our video comparison of both the Kawasaki Z650 & the ER6N, listen to the difference in engine and exhaust sound.
The 2017 Kawasaki Z650 ABS is the replacement of the previous and very popular ER6N naked bike.
While the ER6N is considered to be a very capable and perfect bike for beginner riders wanting to try bigger capacity bikes, Kawasaki had to something big for its replacement.
We got our hands on both bikes and in this special feature, we’re going to put both bikes to test to see once and for all if the Z650 ABS is truly worthy substitute to the almost iconic ER6N.
As most of you have already know, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia released their first wave of new and exciting motorcycles in the Malaysian market earlier this year with the Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS, Z650 ABS, Z900 ABS and the Versys-X 250. The Ninja 650 ABS, Z650 ABS and Z900 ABS are all the next generation street machines that replaced the previous ER6F, ER6N and Z800 respectively.
CLICK HERE to read our first impressions on both the new Z650 and Ninja 650.
In today’s special feature, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the Z650 ABS which is the replacement of the very capable and popular entry level middleweight bike of its day, the famous ER6N. The ER6N has been in the Malaysian market for quite some time now and is largely considered as the perfect middleweight bike for beginners wanting to step up their game to bigger capacity bikes.
So how did Kawasaki take an already good bike and make it better? By completely tearing it down and improving each and every aspect. In short, the Z650 ABS is not just a mere replacement but an evolution to something better. MUCH, MUCH BETTER.
We got the chance to test out both bikes the past week and we can honestly say that the Z650 ABS is a darling to ride around town. First and foremost, the looks have been updated with the move to take the 650cc middleweight into the ‘Z’ family. That means the new Z650 ABS has the same inspirations of the ‘sugomi’ with great fluid lines combined with aggressive features similar to a panther ready to pounce on its prey.
Each and every aspect of the Z650 is a step higher compared to the ER6N from the inside out. Equipped with a redesigned frame, sub-frame and swingarm, the Z650 ABS is lighter by about 20kg compared to the ER6N. That’s a big advantage considering that both have roughly the same power and torque figures. The Z650 went through a rigorous diet to further enhance the bike’s power-to-weight ratio for fun and excitement at any gear or rpm.
In the previous paragraph, we mentioned that the Z650 ABS is much more fun to ride than the ER6N. While both bikes offer their own distinctive yet delicious soundtrack, the Z650 is slightly better with the presence of its new digital instrument. The Z650 wins this argument when Kawasaki decided to include a gear indicator together with a feature that tells you to shift to next gear when it hits the desired rpm range by flashing the rpm bar.
The riding ergonomics has been improved as well to suit a majority of Malaysians with a more suitable ride height, seat and handlebar positioning. Although someone with an average height of close to six feet might feel a bit cramped compared to the ER6N, that factor quickly flies out the door when the Z650 ABS is put through its pace especially a ride around busting cities.
Going through all riding environments including traffic jams and congested cities, the Z650 ABS is so light and nimble that one will tend to feel that one is riding a 250cc lightweight instead of a 650cc naked bike. Not once did we feel tired taking it out for rides in and out of Kuala Lumpur given the fact that the Z650 offers a very relaxed riding experience most of the time. However, be warned that there’s another side of the Z650 that’s much more aggressive once you open up that throttle. The Z650 quickly reminds you that there’s more than meets the eye, much more.
When looking at the power figures, the ER6N does have a slightly higher horsepower of 71hp compared to the Z650 ABS sitting at 67.2hp while the torque range is about the same at 64Nm and 65.7Nm respectively. The Z650 trumps the ER6N in terms of power-to-weight ratio with a reworked engine that not only is able to hit the highest power and torque output at lower rpm but also provides a much linear delivery when compared to the ER6N. The result? The Z650 will excite you in any gear at 3,000rpm and beyond.
The suspension package has also been improved dramatically in the new naked middleweight thanks to a redesigned and repositioned horizontal back-link type rear shock absorber. Compared to the ER6N which has an off-set type, the Z650 is much nimbler and much more stable going through corners and windy roads. With the right set of skills and properly warmed up tyres, getting your knee down with the Z650 is much easier and less daunting compared to the ER6N.
The front telescopic forks have gone through some work that’s suitable for city riding giving high levels of comfort. It does its job well and runs a much more stable front end feel giving more confidence to the rider. The ER6N also offers more or less the same feel but with that extra 20kg, one needs to work a bit harder to achieve the same results.
One of the biggest inputs to the new Z650 is the addition of ABS (anti-lock braking system). Together with its ‘slip and assist’ clutch system, it makes the Z650 a much more superior machine when putting it side by side with the ER6N. Working the front brake requires less physical force which in turn adds more confidence to the rider should he or she needs to slow down quick especially when one needs to perform the emergency braking procedure. The ‘slip and assist’ clutch mechanism also helps in a sense that it won’t lock up the rear wheel when going down the gears.
The same can be done with the ER6N but with much more skills and physical strength that can only be obtained from years of riding experience. We noticed that modulating the front brakes of the ER6N requires more energy as compared to the Z650 so much so that our writer had to use three fingers instead of two when riding the new Z650. Since there’s no ABS feature on the ER6N, modulating the front brakes evenly together with rev-matching is a must to make sure that you slow down to a halt safely. Doing the same thing with the Z650 ABS is much, MUCH simpler.
Apart from all the technical aspects, the biggest and most welcomed feature of the Z650 that we believe everyone can appreciate is the newly-installed radiator fan cover. Gone are the days where riders have to put up with all the heat produced by the engine especially when stuck at traffic lights. It’s something that we took for granted at first but the Z650’s capability to direct all the heat away from the rider is a heaven sent. If you have the chance, try to wait at the traffic light on top of the Z650 first and then hop on the ER6N and you’ll understand what we mean when we say this.
All in all, the Z650 ABS is much more superior bike when compared to its predecessor, the ER6N. Everything about the new Z650 is better, faster, stronger, safer and more comfortable. With a price difference of only RM500 between the two machines, it’s a no brainer that the Z650 ABS is the champ in this comparison.
While most manufacturers tend to put a high price tags for bikes with so many of these great features, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia is offering the Z650 ABS at a very affordable and reasonable RM35,609 (basic price with GST). It’s great bargain for a bike with so many great features and performance. One thing is for sure, it’s true when Kawasaki said “Let the good times roll” especially with the 2017 Kawasaki Z650 ABS.
CLICK HERE to check out all of the Kawasaki bikes available here in Malaysia.