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Kawasaki ER-5 Twister endurance test

Number-5 is alive

Small, simple motorcycles tend to have long and exhausting lives. The long-distance test ER-5 is no exception, but after only 50,000 kilometers it still has half its life ahead of it.

It almost became exactly two years: On December 1, 1996, the Kawasaki ER-5 Twister took its first steps as a displacement flea in the editorial fleet.

November 1998 MOTORRAD screwdriver Gerry Wagner used the wrench for the final dismantling. 727 days during which the ER-5 ran and ran and was particularly noticeable due to its good inconspicuousness.
There were many reasons to buy the little Kawa for the MOTORRAD long-distance test. When it appeared in autumn 1996, the ER-5 completed the range of bread-and-butter all-rounders, which at the time mainly consisted of the Honda CB 500, Suzuki GS 500 E and the four-cylinder Yamaha XJ 600. Test (MOTORRAD 20/1996) and comparison test with these same opponents (MOTORRAD 22/1996) certified the Kawasaki a successful debut. Because not only the low price spoke in favor of the ER-5, the handy frame and the cultivated drive were also convincing, for example with the best torque values ​​and the smoothest gearbox behavior in the comparison test. Loose brakes and a weakly sprung fork that twisted when braking were criticized, but this could only marginally spoil the good overall impression. The sales success also confirms the quality: in 1998 alone, over 3000 German cyclists invested in new ER-five, which puts the Kawasaki ahead of the competition mentioned above in the sales ranking.
The parallel twin of the ER-5 saw the light of day in 1984 as a halved GPZ 900 drive train in the Z 450 LTD. It is less impressive because of its technical features than because of its simple technology that has been tried and tested a thousand times over. As early as 1988, such an engine in a GPZ 500 S completed a MOTORCYCLE long-distance test over 40,000 kilometers. It goes without saying that interested people to see how the twin is doing after ten years of facelift. At that time, the valve train was particularly noticeable due to severe pitting. With the GPZ 500, however, this has to withstand strict control times and a larger cam stroke than with the ER-5.
The MOTORCYCLES did not make it easy for the ER-5 twin-cylinder during the 50,000 kilometers. The Kawasaki covered about half of the distance on short, murderous routes. Home and back to the editorial office, in wind and weather, on salt-dusted winter roads and in the scorching summer heat. The other half of the ER-5 was used as a vacation vehicle, with long motorway full throttle sections and ample loads.
But back to the beginning. The Twister was driven in by the fleet manager at the time, Helmut Faidt – who said nothing about the newcomer. Then magazine editor Axel Westphal used the little Kawa to drive home in the evening, and then the entries in the logbook correspond to a list of the places of residence of the editorial members: Stuttgart, Schorndorf, Berglen, Ludwigsburg, Vaihingen, Leonberg, ceilingpfronn – short-haul operation over a whopping 11500 kilometers.
If the statement by colleague Kappes that "tank cap is leaking" remains an individual box (tank was exchanged under guarantee), "fork and brakes loose" is repeated over the entire distance. For the first time already mentioned at kilometer 1318 by the chassis specialist Mini Koch, almost all test drivers complained about this. Tea fork was therefore upgraded with white power fork springs and the fork oil supplied (SAE 5) on a trial basis at odometer reading 22000 – with success. However, if there is a long delay, it continues to twist.
In order to save the honor, however, it should be said that this was particularly criticized by athletic pilots. In this circle, voices have been heard complaining about poor directional stability or an indifferent feeling when turning. Such weaknesses in the chassis were mostly related to worn tires, to which the ER-5 is extremely sensitive. Moni Schulz judged test: "Totally nervous, overhanded, little feeling for the front wheel!" Incidentally, the Bridgestone BT 45s presented at the beginning of 1998 harmonize very well with the Kawasaki. In addition to good all-round properties, they not only calm the chassis, but also offer sporty grip reservations (tire recommendation in MOTORRAD xx / 1998) .
Motorbike testers spoiled for horsepower complained now and then about the lack of engine power of the good ER-5. While graphic designate and Katana 1100 driver Katrin Sdun-Heinlein teases: "Handy like a bicycle, but just as little pulls", the racing colleague Koch quoted above, philosophizes about "the discovery of slowness". In any box, the majority of the test team had sufficient strength from the Kawa, even when they went on a bigger tour.
Unbelievably, this happened for the first time at almost 12,000 kilometers. mopped colleague Mike Schümann took the first "long-distance drive" with the ER-5, the destination was Regensburg. "Drinks like a hole!" scolded Mike, who – like some other colleagues later – burned almost eight liters of normal per hundred kilometers when driving fast on the motorway. In view of an average consumption over the entire test distance of 5.6 liters per hundred kilometers, the Kawa can be considered quite frugal. It is also fitting that oil did not have to be topped up once outside of the maintenance intervals.
A true travel marathon led the ER-5, now equipped with a small and really wind-protecting handlebar cover from JF Motorsport, several times to Italy, first to the Dolomites, then immediately to Tuscany and finally to Sardinia. Over the icy Christmas days she was kidnapped to the somewhat milder southern France. At an advanced age, the Twister finally got to know a little more about Germany than just Stuttgart and its surroundings. The crowning glory of her career in tourism: the ER-5 was chosen twice as a companion for Alpine tours.
On one of the Germany tours, reporter Fred Siemer once again criticized the "slack suspension and damping", but above all the excessive consumption in two-person operation. Amazingly, immediately afterwards, guest driver Frieder Harbusch was delighted with the low fuel consumption, even in pillion mode, and the overall excellent driving characteristics. Well, tastes and driving styles are so different. The quality of the bench was also rated differently. Some complained about poor support and uncomfortable upholstery, others praised the dresser seat even after long stretches. On the other hand, the assessment of the short mirror arms is clear, which condemn even the smallest pilots to ruthlessness .
Bottom line? After 50,000 kilometers, 48 ​​of the 50 hp measured at the beginning of the ER remained, and the compression of the second cylinder decreased somewhat. Both of these factors can be charged to the intake valve of that second cylinder, which was found to be leaking during the engine diagnosis. Otherwise, after dismantling, the engine was used, but consistently dimensionally accurate and in good condition, as the tables on pages 40 and 41 show.
Und the brave ER-5 never let any of its pilots down. The driver’s log records one fall on black ice. Once a speedometer cable broke, another time a clutch cable – fortunately in the editorial garage. That’s it for exceptional occurrences. Thus, after 50,000 kilometers of fun driving, with a few marks and a few hours of work, the Kawasaki is well equipped for the second half of its life.

Reading experiences

The letters from the readers essentially confirm the experience of the editors with the long-distance test ER-5. What all owners have in common is their satisfaction with the little Kawasaki, which they would buy again at any time.

I bought my ER-5 in March 1997. In the meantime I have driven about 10,000 kilometers without any technical defects. The engine is robust, but shakes especially when it is cold, which cost two tachometer lamps. The brakes are bite-free, the pressure point is imprecise, the telescopic fork is too soft. Not a racing bike, but a comfortable touring bike suitable for everyday use. I have replaced the short series mirrors with ones with a smaller blind spot, and a Louis touring screen reduces the wind pressure. I am so satisfied with the ER-5 that I would buy it again.Rohland Roth, CrailsheimOn June 5, 1997, I started my motorcycling life with an ER-5. After a few days of getting used to it, I felt at home on the Kawa and enjoyed the easy handling. After 11,000 kilometers I can’t find this motorcycle boring at all. City trips: a pleasure. Country roads: pure fun and exuberance. Autobahn: up to 160 nothing unpleasant noticeable. Disgusting topic: the brakes. Not only is the braking distance very long, the fork almost twists around itself when you brake hard. This is particularly uncomfortable for beginners. I would have liked to have paid more for an ER-5 with a decent braking system. Still, overall a great entry-level motorcycle.Monika Wenninger, Oberhaching Until today I have covered 12,000 kilometers with my ER-5 and can only say that the purchase decision was correct. A moped that you just have to fill up and drive. I changed the mirror boom (too short for me at 1.83 meters) and added a five-star luggage rack. At 10,000 kilometers I upgraded to the new Bridgestone BT 45, with which I am very satisfied. The only problem was with a leaky fuel filler cap, which was replaced under warranty. As a drawback, I find the brakes too weak for the performance. The ugly welds don’t have to be either, nor the rust-brown exhaust manifold. Klaus Fröhlecke, Herne About a year ago I bought my ER-5, for economic reasons, but also because of its appearance, handling and my wife’s opinion. Since then I have covered 17,000 happy kilometers with it. A windshield (Steel Shield by Difi) and a case system (Junior II by Hepko & Becker) make the machine more suitable for touring. When fully loaded with driver and front passenger, the holiday tour starts with 180 kilograms of load. The road holding is always impeccable on winding country roads and motorways, and the engine is always up to the load. But the brakes! Solo still okay, they are not up to the loads at the upper limit. The rear suspension could also be firmer, and the pillion seat is only suitable for small co-drivers in the long run. I am basically satisfied with the standard Dunlop Arrowmax, but in cooler weather they leave something to be desired. I was disappointed with the cable connections, which were already rotten after 7000 kilometers. Overall, however, I am satisfied and will remain loyal to the Kawa for a long time to come. Hans-Jörg Meschke On July 20, 1997 I acquired my ER-5 as a daily license from 10/30/96, one of the first models. I chose the version with 50 hp, which always gives me enough torque and speed. After 8000 kilometers I didn’t have the slightest mechanical problem. Only the tank was exchanged twice for guarantee at the beginning. I am just as satisfied with the equipment as I am with fuel and oil consumption (the latter cannot be determined). Unfortunately, the braking system shows unspectacular braking performance. This may just be enough on its own, in two-person operation the brake is completely overwhelmed. The limp fork with its puny stanchions also warps significantly when braking hard. First, I exchanged the fork springs for those from White Power. Since then, she has been speaking more sensitively and is no longer immersed so deeply. In order to reduce the twisting, I installed an aluminum fork stabilizer from Kern, which looks good and reduces the twisting of the fork to a minimum. A real recommendation. Tea installation of steel braided lines is also recommended, which means that the brake can be controlled much more sensitively and also significantly reduces the manual force required. I use an average of five normal liters. Review: My buttocks are painful for long stretches. In summary, an absolutely full-fledged, robust motorcycle, with which even with small modifications the driving pleasure can be increased. Bernhard Heun, Essen

Wear condition

Piston, cylinder, crank drive and valve drive: Pistons with very good running pattern and low coking. Slight tracks on the right cylinder liner. Crankshaft main bearing true to size, partly with clear tracks. Right connecting rod bearing with circumferential grooves (foreign bodies) and running marks, but both lower connecting rod bearings are true to size. Connecting rod eye and piston pin with very good running pattern. Inlet valves coked, one inlet valve leaking. Valve seats OK. Valve stems and guides in very good condition. Camshaft bearings true to size, cams and rocker arms partly with pitting, but still outside the wear limit. Clutch: All components in very good condition. Clutch basket with astonishingly little chatter marks. Transmission: Slight tracks, especially on the gear wheels of the lower gears, overall good condition of the gear wheels, shift drum and shift forks. Bearing seat of the gearbox output bearing greatly expanded. Exhaust: collector and especially the manifold rusted, protective paint almost worn. Chassis: frame and swing arm without visible damage or corrosion, paint in good condition. Fork without visible wear, struts with flash rust. Steering head bearings had to be replaced after 48,000 kilometers, swingarm and wheel bearings in order, bearing of the sprocket carrier defective. Brakes: The front brake disc had to be replaced after about 40,000 kilometers due to delay. The rear brake drum shows little wear

Kawasaki takes a position…

…On the weak braking performance: In order to be able to offer the motorcycle cheaply, a second brake disc was dispensed with. The braking performance required by law is of course also achieved with a disc brake, there are no disadvantages in daily use … to the corroded exhaust manifold: The problem is known, a solution is being worked on. The corrosion has not progressed so far that the exhaust has to be replaced … on the defective bearing of the sprocket carrier: According to our documents, such damage plays an absolutely subordinate role. The reason can be washing with high pressure cleaners. Errors could also have been made during assembly after changing tires. Since you say this is not the case, we suspect a connection with the next point … the widened bearing seat of the gearbox output bearing: This error is very unusual. We suspect that a chain that was tensioned too tightly led to … the tracks on the gear tooth flanks: The tracks show high mileage. There are no breakouts, pitting or other signs of overload or increased bearing play of the idler gears on the gear shaft. Since the gearshift forks show hardly any wear either, the gearbox is fully functional and can still be used … on the broken-in camshafts and rocker arms: The cams are beginning to pitting, and corresponding breakouts appear on the rocker arms. Given the mileage, we consider the condition to be normal. We would like to point out that so-called low-viscosity oil with viscosities below 10W is not approved for any of our engines. These oils can promote premature cam wear. Should the engine continue to be used, we recommend replacing the camshafts and rocker arms …. regarding the tracks on the crankshaft main and connecting rod bearings: In our opinion, the traces in the connecting rod bearing come from an object that was left in the engine during manufacture. If the engine hadn’t been disassembled, it would probably have achieved the same mileage again. But since it was dismantled, it should at least be fitted with new bearings … to the leaky inlet valve: valve seats and valves show only minor signs of wear. After grinding in the valves, the motor should be ready for use again. However, we would recommend replacing the valves completely.

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