Big-Bore LAMS Test
Learner riders now have great choice with the second generation of large-capacity LAMS bikes. Motorcycle Trader took seven contenders on a 1500km round trip with surprising results. Read the intro here.
Contender #6: Kawasaki ER-6nL
The ‘Green Machine’ has a re-thought ER-6 engine which now produces maximum torque at a low 4000rpm, providing great flexibility and spirited performance. A bonus for learners is standard anti-lock brakes (ABS), setting it apart from the other Japanese offerings.
ON THE ROAD
The Kawasaki and the Suzuki Gladius 650 were similar in many respects – both were composed, clean and classy. Both are incredibly easy to ride and very suited to their intended market. They share the same suspension travel – 125mm at the front and 130mm at the rear – giving relatively plush rides.
Their 160/60 rear tyres allow them to change direction with very little steering effort and they’re equally relaxing to ride.
With the Gladius’ pre-load adjustable fork, it’s the better of the two in setting static sag to get the most from the suspension but the thin seat responsible for its 785mm seat height makes it less comfortable. The 805mm seat height of the ER-6nL is a more realistic statement of the size of these bikes, both of which suit taller riders.
With its extra 4kW, the Kawasaki is the livelier of the two.
The green machine’s engine produces maximum torque at 4000rpm, giving it a broad spread across the rev range.
The Suzuki’s maximum torque is also produced early in the rev range but, annoyingly, the company is unable to say how early.
An educated guess would be around 4000rpm or perhaps even a little lower.
Owners of either of these bikes will never have a sense they’re restricted in any way except at the very top end.
They’re proper motorcycles which, if you change the oil occasionally, you’ll be able to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
The Thai-built Kawasaki is a tidy package around a bulletproof engine.
Both the Suzuki and Kawasaki are a pleasure to ride and no buyer will ever regret his or her decision.
All the bikes tested delivered excellent stopping performance as the brake systems were originally designed for bikes that developed substantially more power. Anti-lock braking system (ABS) on the Triumph, Kawasaki and Ducati elevate these three from the pack not because you can brake harder but because it removes the fear in learners of locking the front wheel in an emergency braking situation.
What really matters about the performance of all of the test bikes is, at normal road speeds, they all have plenty in reserve for overtaking and it makes them safer in that they can do it quickly with composure.
On the subject of styling, Kawasaki’s ER-6 has been around since 2006, although it now sports a narrower chassis. The current LAMS version makes the most of Kawasaki’s trademark lime green to look even more cheerful than the Suzuki but both bikes are arguably a generation behind in the styling department.
Older members of the MT crew preferred the Kawasaki and the Suzuki to the moderns but What everyone was unanimous about, though, was, for new riders, the old-fashioned analogue dials were much easier to read than the ‘modern’ digital ones.
Although both the Suzuki and Kawasaki had combined digital/analogue instrumentation, they were both preferred.
Read more on the LAMS review contenders:
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