Yamaha YZF R6 (2003) test
Intro: DIRECTION VERSATILITY ?
The presentation of the new Yamaha YZF-R6 is an important moment since the former model, which came out 5 years ago, won a championship in World Supersport, and was considered, up until now like the most efficient model around.
Esthetique: RADICALLY BEAUTIFUL
The new R6 comes with an impeccable finish, particularly when it some to the instrument panel. A direct link with the equipment found on the R1. And you rediscover the analogical rev. meter integrated into the LCD screen for speed, the kilometer counter and 2 daily counters, without forgetting the engine thermometer and the "shifting" which indicates the moment youre supposed to shift gears.
This engine will, if you believe the manufacturer, get up to 123 hp at 13,000 revs in full throttle and a torque which is also higher than the new CBR 600: 7 mkg, still in the full version. The whole shebang for a total weight of 162 kg dry. With 90% of the engines parts being changed, the R6 shows us a completely new face. That of a machine which does its best at mid-regime. You quickly get used to riding it on the road. The power is, obviously, up there in the high speeds, but you do get some real traction before reaching 5,000 revs. As for the motorization, things get rowdy between 10,000 and 13,000 revs/minute. But the progress made at mid-gear somewhat stifles the sensation of available power in the revs. Flatter compared to the former model, the new power curve shows less of this engines qualities and nothing will be gained by going for the circuit breaker perched at 16,000 revs. On this point, Honda does it better, especially since Yamahas model also coughs a bit when speeding up. So youd better get to know it real well to be able to compensate.
On the road: MUTATION PART 2
And since were on the chassis, we might as well cover the cycle part that underwent lots of changes too. The aluminum-poured frame is lighter than the 2002 model and gets up to 50% more rigidity. At the rear, the swing arm has been lengthened to 10mm, and in the front, the t-yoke deferment has been decreased from 40 to 35mm. All of this aimed at calming down a motorbike, which was known to behave brutally in the past, while trying to render it accessible for the lambda rider, in particular on the road.
Add to that a more subtle position, more efficient protection and rather comfy suspensions when youre limited, and you get a more useable machine than in the past. But it still is feisty and fun to ride. You can also go to town without worrying about discharging, a nightmare from the past acceleration model or other little behavior problems. And a little run on the track to allow us to see whether this is a true success story, or if the R6 has simply fallen into the ranks while leaving behind its sports gear.
Near Améria is this terrific track, not very long but technical and boasting some blinding hairpins. After a few laps to get acquainted, we then focus on the bike itself. As for the cycle part, you quickly realize that the front wheel drive remains light but your ride isnt as bumpy while accelerating or braking hard. The new geometry of the machine remains dynamic thanks to its wheelbase, which, even though its been extended, is shorter by 10mm, compared to the CBR. The bike turns out to be easier to steer.
As for the brakes, however, no need for any adaptation period. The dimensions remain the same and their pure performance just as good, progressive and easy to control. As for the feeling it procures, the R6 is maybe a little bit lagging behind the CBR, but the difference is slight.
In summary, we have to come to two conclusions: First, the machine has progressed a lot with respect to mid-gear performance and the reactions of its chassis. The second conclusion is that, in the end, Yamaha chose to go in the completely opposite direction of the CBR. While Honda is getting radical, Yam chose the polyvalent route, whereas the radical nature of its behavior used to be its motto!