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This is my first bike, and as a step-up from 125's I've found that it provides an friendly and willing tool with which to start 'proper biking'. Before getting on my ER-5 for the first time I was worried that it may be too wide, tall and heavy, but for an average size person it is very manageable and easy to ride. The controls are well laid out and the simple design of the majority of components provides three highly beneficial uses:
1 - Repairs are less daunting to tackle for novice mechanics,
2 - Repairs are less costly,
3 - Components are a little more 'rugged' and can resist the ham-fisted fumblings of the inexperienced spanner-wielder!
My ER-5 is around 9 years old and has got about 25 thousand miles on the clock. It is at the stage where bits and bobs need replacing (fork seals, clutch springs etc.) but all in all it is still a fairly reliable and solid little bike.
I've owned my ER5 for nearly 4 years now. I've covered nearly 14000 miles in that time with no problems whatsoever. This bike is not known as a touring motorcycle but mine has travelled, two-up, fully loaded with luggage up and down the Pyrenees, the Alps and across France. It has impressed me with its willing engine and good handling. The bike cruises happily at 90mph although fuel consumption drops to about 35mpg. This is as mentioned, fully loaded. Ridden solo this improves to 60mpg. Top speed is about 120mph in good conditions. Servicing costs are reasonable at £110 per 4000 miles. Tyres seem to last about 5000 miles rear 6000 front. I use a Scottoiler and the chain seems to have loads of life left. Kawasaki used to have a poor reputation for their finish quality. My ER5 is still looking good with just a few rusty fasterners here and there. To sum up then, a brillant little machine, fast enough for real life and great fun too.
I have had my 2000 ER5 for 4 months. The ER5 must be run-in at 4,000rpm for the first 500mls, this equates to around 55mph. The initial running-in was not easy as the ER5 is not particularly happy below 2,500rpm so the rev range you can use is very narrow. This makes for never ending gear changes and the bike never enters its power band (which we have discovered starts around 5,000rpm and continues smoothly from there). This bike is seriously easy to ride, it has a large flywheel making the engine very forgiving. There is a "positive neutral" feature which means that if you are stopped in 1st gear the bike will only select neutral. Great! no more fiddling at traffic lights!! You need to have a real talent to stall this bike! The rear shocks are adjustable and arrive set at the softest setting this is fine for 1 up riding and is ample stiff enough for spirited cornering but does need stiffening for carrying a pillion passenger. Once the first 500mls have been covered the engine can be revved to 6,000 rpm this equates to 80mph. above 4,000rpm you begin to get the feel of the potential of the bike. The riding postition is very good, not too much weight on the wrists which means I can ride for fairly long periods without problems. The exhaust note is quite pleasing, at low revs it has a nice "twin" sound and higher up the revs it will not annoy the neighbours but is loud enough to give feedback to the rider when matching revs to change down through the gears. All controls are very easy to operate and the lighting is excellent much better than many bikes. The bike is very easy to keep clean as there is not much "bright" work and few sticky out bits with nooks and crannies behind them to trap dirt. If you get caught out in bad weather the ER5 can be quickly restored to pristine condition with the minimum of elbow grease. The acceleration is extremely good made better by the wide
powerband. Handling on corners inspires confidence and although the rear tyre is quite narrow by todays standards it seems to stick like glue. All in all this machine would appear to have no real vices. There are of course a couple of niggles (isn't there always), the rear brake is a drum and feels ineffective. It probably isn't but I feel a disc would enhance the bike. The engine is not the most mechanically quiet I have come accross. It does not sound unpleasant but seems a bit "rattley" at low revs. Once revved a little all calms down. If someone came back from the 80s having never seen a modern bike there is nothing on the ER5 that would raise an eyebrow. The design is VERY traditional. This does not make it bad by any means and apart from liquid cooling, 4 valves per cyclinder, and electronic ignition it could have been designed in the 80s. This tried and trusted technology is probably what makes the ER5 the choice of riding schools all over the country. All in all a nice traditional piece of kit with modern performance.
I bought a secondhand P-reg ER-5 after passing my Direct Access course in June 1999, and since then I have been using it to commute to and from work in Central London. It has been very solid and confidence-inspiring, and nothing has gone wrong with it as yet. I've heard of electrical problems with new models, but have not experienced any with mine. Having an unfaired bike such as this as a first bike means that, should you drop it, which seems to be a common occurrance among new riders, there is not normally much damage to repair - only indicators and levers. Also because of it's small engine it's relatively easy to pick up again. Overall I think that this is a great little bike for taking your first steps as it is pretty good to throw around in between traffic, gaining confidence. Although not really suitable if you use a lot of open roads, as the lack of fairing really prohibits speeds in excess of 60mph for prolonged periods, around and about the town for commuting etc it is a winner, and I would recommend it. As for pillions, the comfort is good due to a well padded seat, low pegs and good grabrail, but you will suffer a considerable lack of power if you are not both small light people. Tip: Don't forget to remove your disk lock before trying to ride away. I found out the hard way what can happen if you're in a hurry and forget!