Remember the kid in the grey tank top at school? Middle of the class, brought to school in the family Allegro, he never got detention, but never won the school talent contest either. Last in the 100 metres, he’d somehow always manage to finish in the cross country. Skinny, knee- grazed Derek, (we’ll call him) didn’t look good in sports kit and never ignited a girl’s passion, but he could be a good mate; as dependable as your old school bag, and as honest as a maths lesson is long. If you want a two-wheeled equivalent, you need look no further than Kawasaki’s ER-5.
What is it?
Now replaced by the much-improved ER6, there are still plenty of ER5’s about, which is good news if you’re looking for a cheap winter hack, a reliable commuter or perhaps the first Big Bike after passing your test, including Direct Access from January 2013 with an A1 licence.
Engine and Transmission
The engine is a straightforward 498cc parallel-twin with a 6 speed gearbox. It’s great on the urban and inter-urban scene (weighing only 179 kilos the ER5 will top 100mph, hitting 60mph is under 6 seconds) but the small Kwacker runs out of puff on longer trips, especially if 2-up. Power output is in fact 51 bhp (33 lbs/ft of torque) and this is adequate rather than exciting.
Nevertheless, the new cheap NFL jerseys rider can adapt to overtaking conditions safely with enough power to experiment and build confidence. It’s good on fuel too, returning anything up to 60 mpg. Other running costs are low; cheap insurance (£50 TPFT for early 30’s in the provinces), easy DIY maintenance, low tyre consumption and inexpensive parts all help.
Equipment level is basic, and the fuel gauge, though fitted, bears as much a resemblance to the tank’s contents as a party political manifesto does to what happens when the election is over. Many fit crash bars, a Scottoiler and some go for a hugger, which the standard bike lacks. A fly screen is also popular. Rear shocks have pre-load but are reduced to pogo-stick quality within 15,000 miles. Everyone should douse the bike in ACF50 cheap NFL jerseys or similar though – corrosion is a real issue.
Comfort is generally good – seat height is a lowish 800mm and bars are fairly flat leading to an easy upright riding position. Handling is neutral and the control forgiving of clumsy inputs, providing a solid base to learn and develop; it communicates with the rider and does not intimidate.
Facts and Figures
Engine: liquid-cooled, 2 valves per cylinder, 498 cc parallel twin
Power: 51 bhp
Torque: 33 lbs/ feet
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Final Drive: Chain
Brakes: Single 280mm front disc , rear 240mm drum
Tyres: Front, 110/70/17, Rear 140/70/17
Wet Weight: 179kg
Fuel Tank: 17 Litres
Max range: 180 miles approx
Price New: £3,345
Insurance Group: 8
Performance: 0-60 5.7 seconds, 110mph max.
Fuel Consumption: 60 mpg
What’s it like to own? Graham, who owned one for several years, says;
‘Ownership is about reliability, cutting through rush hour traffic and no hassle no frills riding. The bike is a Olive good first Big Bike. It’s got cheap MLB jerseys enough power to overtake slow moving traffic, and handles easily.
I remember learning how to corner on it, making the odd mistake, but not worrying if I dropped it. I remember my first sub 6 second 0-60, shopping on eBay for a replacement part on a lazy Sunday afternoon, learning the craft of servicing, getting cold in winter (no fairing) and wishing I was on something a bit Commissions sportier in summer. On the other hand, although the power output is lowish, you get to ride it to the limit – which can be fun.’
Living with it..
There are no major problems with the ER5 – not the kind that have to be deal breakers anyway. That said, electrical problems are known, especially failure of the regulator / rectifier (though there is a fix for this), brakes are woeful (there’s only a drum on the back), especially with a pillion. Indeed the front has so little bite that it’s almost impossible to lock unless the bike is ridden on a frozen lake while trying to avoid geese (don’t try that at home).
The frame is pretty solid, but the exhaust rots like an old log being eaten by weapons grade fungus.
You can get a good second hand ER5 now for around a grand…which as door-to-door transport goes these days is cheap. The ER5 is fine for basic ‘A to B’ stuff, and if that’s what you want it for you won’t be disappointed. But you could also consider the Honda CB500. It will cost a few hundred more, but build quality, durability and general finish are better.
The ER5 is a practical, extremely Honda’s affordable commuter or winter hack POSITIVA you don’t have to worry about. It’s generally reliable, is easy to keep running on as budget and does the job. The bike is good for a newbie as a first big bike, but if it’s touring or high speed fun you are after, our guess is that you’ll be scouring those bike ads for something tastier within six months of purchase.