These two beauties have a lot in common. Aimed at beginners, they both use mild mannered, 650cc twin cylinder engines packaged in light handling chassis. Power and weight are in the same ballpark, as is price just
$6399 for Kawasaki's ER-6n and $6899 for Suzuki's Gladius. On paper,the two are almost indistinguishable. Stray from the spec sheets,however, and the differences start to overshadow the similarities.It's easy to recognize the Suzuki's engine and the Kawasaki's side mounted shock and swingarm. After all, the Gladius is a flamboyant replacement for the venerable naked SV650, while the ER-6n is the scrappy alter ego of the fully faired Ninja 650R. Each shares a long list of parts with its predecessor, but both convey entirely different attitudes.Aimed at fashion forward neophytes, the Gladius oozes Euro chic with its shapely steel trellis frame, two tone fuel tank and curvaceous silhouette. The ER-6n appeals to a different segment of the same demographic with a sporty, muscular character rendered by Kawasaki's signature petal rotors and angular, windswept bodywork. An exotic under-engine exhaust and chin spoiler complete the streetfighter look.
The Gladius frame, bodywork and cool five spoke wheels are all new, and the 645cc DOHC mill that powers it has received some crucial updates. Bore and stroke remain unchanged at 81.0 x 62.6mm, but minor revisions
to the gearbox, crank, cams and fuel injection mapping accentuate the V-twin feel and improve power, raising output to 66.8 horsepower at 8500 rpm (up from the SV's 64.6 bhp at 9000 rpm). Two iridium spark plugs per cylinder and extra fine atomizing injectors clean up emissions enough so that there's no need for a secondary air injection system.
ER-6n thrust comes from a compact powerplant pulled directly off the Ninja 650 assembly line, and produces a modest 62.6 bhp at 8500 rpm. While the Gladius splays its cylinders at 90 degrees, the ER runs them parallel in a near vertical format, with a cover hiding the CARB mandated charcoal canister mounted to the left cylinder.The Gladius gas tank holds 2 gallon less regular unleaded than the ER's, better fuel economy means it nets the same 150 miles per tankful.