The en­gine builder

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Is part of Race­ways, who built the

Team Trac­tion Con­trol R6 “A lot of the work with the R6 is out of ne­ces­sity be­cause the parts you have to use – crank, rods, pistons, val­ve­train etc – are road bike parts that aren’t made for rac­ing. It’s bloody ex­pen­sive; a set of valves is two grand. By the time you’ve done all the work you need for BSB, you’re talk­ing £12,000. But it’ll make

142bhp.” gether. If you en­joy us­ing power tools, chain­saws and petrol-en­gined lawn mow­ers, you’ll love the R6.

And of course it’s ad­dic­tive. Some­times the Yamaha’s re­lent­less thirst for revs is highly an­noy­ing if you’re not in the mood. But most of the time, chas­ing the van­ish­ing point be­comes an ob­ses­sion, preser­va­tion of mo­men­tum the goal. Don’t slow down for any­thing. Al­though if you do, the brakes are so sharp the front wheel feels like it’s bury­ing it­self in the belly-pan.

There’s not much room for any­thing else in the R6 owner’s bik­ing life. Chuck a bag on the back; there’s space for a tail­pack. Mir­rors are for el­bows. Fuel range is just over 120 miles. You could ride an R6 across a con­ti­nent in a day, if you’re rel­a­tively sup­ple. Ele­phants need not ap­ply.

And, of course, be­ing so diminu­tive means chances are we’ve all got room in the garage for one.

Like I said: no ex­cuses.

What a load of Rs

They might share a sim­i­lar sil­ver and blue paint scheme and use YZF-R as a name, but how closely re­lated are Yamaha’s three race repli­cas?

Head down, revs spi­ralling, en­gine strain­ing, the dig­i­tal speedo num­ber climb­ing up­wards in three fig­ures... but are we tak­ing a 321cc par­al­lel twin, in­line four 599cc or in­line four cross­plane 999cc? It could be any of them, be­cause the one thing – apart from paint and an acro­nym – the R3, R6 and R1 share is a will­ing­ness to rev it­self to high heaven and back. It’s al­most as if the num­ber one pri­or­ity when it came to en­gine de­sign for all three bikes was: “Make it rev. A lot.”

For the baby R3, mak­ing an RD350LC-ISH 42bhp at 10,750rpm, this is a good thing be­cause at least you feel like you’re get­ting some value from the mo­tor. In iso­la­tion it’s a peppy en­gine, and the rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is packed with big-bike feel. But, ul­ti­mately, the R3 is 80bhp down on the R6 and it’s a lot to give away on a back-to-back ride and feel any­thing other than tame.

The R1 is at the op­po­site end of the scale. With an R6 chas­sis used as its de­sign start point and, in terms of rid­ing po­si­tion, re­tain­ing the same com­pact foot-bum-bar ge­om­e­try, the R1 then crams in a 190bhp cross­plane en­gine. Mar­shalled by a raft of top-line elec­tron­ics, the re­sult is a breath­tak­ing, ad­dic­tive trip to fan­tasy land ev­ery time you open the throt­tle. You know when you hear rac­ers say­ing how they can’t wait to get to the track and start rid­ing their bike and you think, ‘Re­ally, be­cause what you do looks pretty scary to me’? With the R1, you can see their point. For­get its out­right speed; go­ing fast is only half the story. The real joy of the R1 is just how charis­matic and plea­sur­able the mo­tor is to use. The ‘fast’ bit is a bonus.

And then there’s that R6 again, neatly placed be­tween R3 and R1, but closer

Small, sharp and to­tally unashamed about it, the R6 makes no ex­cuses for it­self

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