The engine builder
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