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Maxander 11 Aug 2009 15:41

Kawasaki ER-5 Advice Sought
I'm a born again biker returning after 25 years of non biking.

The bike I've been riding for the past 6 months is the Kawasaki ER-5. Everyone seems to underestimate this little beauty as a training bike, but she performs very well. In July this year I camped around Scotland on her with a friend on his Honda VFR800, doing 1,500 miles in 6 days and she was very comfortable, even though my luggage was borrowed or improvised. Fuel economy was wonderfull at about 250 miles for a 17ltr tank, mainly due to us avoiding motorways and trunk roads and taking in the scenery without the need to speed.

I came back from Sunderland recently and spent some time at a constant 80-90mph, I noticed the tank range dropped off to about 150mile and I guess that is a bit too much for her. That isn't my normal riding style though.

I've since added a small Puig windshield and a 48ltr back box, and we are planning a 2 week tour of France, Northern Italy, and Switzerland next year.

My questions are, what should I look for on the ER-5 when doing long trips, she has only done 8,000 miles ?

How often would you change the oil ?

How good a reputation has this model for electrical reliability ?

At what speed am I asking too much of her 70, 80, 90mph ?

I admire the ER-5s simplicity and on the one occasion I've had to put her down on her side, cocked up a u-turn :nono:, there is very little to scratch or break, no fairing, hard side panniers, etc. I could do with a couple of crash bungs fitted though methinks !

This website is a marvelous community and have enjoyed reading the input.



Threewheelbonnie 11 Aug 2009 17:19

The ER is a very capable and indeed under rated bike. Any bike's tank range drops when you use it's performance for long periods. Speed wise you need to search out the "happy" speeds. This is where you get the most range (will be about 55 mph) and cover the most distance per day. The latter is a juggling act between running at 100 mph and then stopping for 15 minutes in the hour to fill up and get your head together and running at 55. Most bikes are happy at about 70-80 mph until you hit things like Pan Europeans whose fairings make the difference. The rider is a big factor. If you need to cruise at 90, the ER will do it, it just won't be comfortable and if you want to hit the bar after a days ride you might be just as well sticking to 70, you'll arrive minutes later but be fresher.

Take a look at your luggage, the smaller the bike, the bigger the difference that extra jumper/spare tent makes.

Service wise, I think the oil change interval is 4000 miles? Just go with what it says in the book, these things are pretty solid. Only thing I'd look for when touring is tyre condition and chain tension.

I wish my dad had kept his ER. The Guzzi he got instead he says has more "soul" which to me only seem to mean it breaks down more and parts are a PITA to get. The ER was cheaper to run, involved less work, the dealer was brilliant and it did everything required of it. A really good bike IMHO.


pottsy 11 Aug 2009 18:35

Do an oil change just before the trip and you should be good until you get back, when you might change it again. I'd imagine a 500cc twin would be happy at 80 on the motorways, but the ER isn't a long-distance speed machine. As an A-road tourer it'd be fine and should be fine for your trip. Don't forget the wd40, mind, European rain always seems to Monsoonal in its delivery compared to the Blighty variety :stormy:!

oldbmw 11 Aug 2009 20:27

In my view the er5 is a vastly under rated bike. It is basically simple therefore cheap reliable transport. Had there been a simple way to get it converted to right shift, I may well have bought one. Suggest you do as others have said, just follow the manual.

Maxander 18 Aug 2009 15:18

Thanks for the feedback folks !


Tome 5 Sep 2009 23:19

I had an ER-5 and it was bulletproof. I put about 15k miles on it in under 2 years. It had 32k miles on it when I last saw it and was going strong.
After a year I changed the filters and plugs - don't know when this was meant to be done but did it then. I changed the chain and sprockets when I got it and didn't need to do anything to them after, apart from obviously lubing the chain.
That bike never gave me any trouble at all! Always started, battery never went flat, clocks always worked, light always worked (never had to change a bulb). I kept ontop of the basics and it always seemed to work brilliantly, fluids, pressures and lube :clap:
I spent it's life outside being chained to a lampost and ridden to work during the week.

I rode it 2 up with luggage to Paris and made absolutely no mods to it. It sat at about 80 quite happily from what I remember.

cookekwak 28 Oct 2009 20:25

Hi there,
I have an ER5 currently brilliant bike and as you already stated vastly underated. I picked it up in July for 700measly quid a 1999 model with 20k on the clock. Its now managed a few thousand trouble free miles and I'm taking it to France next Tuesday 3rd Nov.
I would keep an eye on chain tension/lubrication (I find my Izumi chain and sprocket kit I got is awful for road grit etc collecting crap in general so I have to clean it a lot)
Also tyre pressures/wear even though I bought it with the same pair of tyres I'm still using 4k later and they're so no sign of needing a change.
From my research into the bike I can confirm that a common electrical fault around 20kish miles is the regulator to blow (blowing the electrics I think tht basically is) - killing your battery etc and needing a replacement regulator for about 80quid.
But if you say your bike has 9k miles on it you shouldn't have to worry about tht for a while.
Oil change about 5k miles I think the manual says and if you keep it well maintained I hear they last for miles. I'm gonna see how many miles I can get out of mine!

How is it with a screen? I find it can get pretty choppy on the motorway (so I'm thinking of purchasing one).

Only problem I've had with the bike so far other than normal items wearing out is a speedo cable dying on me but it was only a tenna for a replacement.

Enjoy it!


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