Life in fast lane: R6 own­er­ship is a blast

Yamaha’s im­prac­ti­cal R6 serves up mo­ments of spine-tin­gling bliss

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - adam.child@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

There are thou­sand rea­sons why you shouldn’t own a new Yamaha YZF-R6, but there one big rea­son why you should – it makes you feel good. It’s that sim­ple. There are times when I hate it, the mir­rors are use­less, the seat is too hard, the sus­pen­sion has no travel and tries to break my old body on ev­ery bump. The Yam’s in­line four-cylin­der ti­ta­nium-valved mo­tor only comes alive above 8000rpm. It’s a race bike for the road; to­tally im­prac­ti­cal. Pil­lions will have to be brave or stupid. Or, prefer­ably, both!

But then there are mo­ments when it’s mag­i­cal, it makes me feel young again. Find an empty, fa­mil­iar stretch of road, get the rev counter above 8000rpm, tuck in be­hind the screen and I guar­an­tee you’ll smile.

When I was in my early 20s I’d love to thrash my Kawasaki KR-1S around my lo­cal roads in York­shire. I’d pop over to Scar­bor­ough for a bag of chips or nip down to Sher­burn in El­met for a brew. I’d find any ex­cuse for a blast and some knee-down fun. I’d cir­cle round­abouts two or three times just for the craic. I thought those im­ma­ture times were be­hind me, but my R6 has changed that. I’m 20 again! I’m brush­ing hedges with el­bows, I’m pop­ping wheel­ies over crests and find­ing any ex­cuse for a ride out. Yamaha’s R6 makes you do things you re­ally shouldn’t.

The first 500 miles run­ning-in at le­gal speeds has high­lighted some prac­ti­cal­ity. I’m get­ting close to 50mpg or 130miles be­fore the fuel light il­lu­mi­nates. The new body­work and larger screen for 2017 is an im­prove­ment over the old 2016 model. It’s no tourer, but it’s not as un­com­fort­able or im­prac­ti­cal as I first feared.

I’ve al­ready changed the stan­dard Bridge­stone S21 in favour of more grippy Pirelli Rosso 3 tyres (£250). The Pirellis boost con­fi­dence, have more bite and can cope with some track miles, too. I’ll be in­ter­ested to see how long they last. I’ve also thrown away the stan­dard end can, which re­ally spoilt the R6’s sporty lines. In­stead I’ve opted for a Mo­togp-style slip-on from Akrapovic (£323).

What next?

I’ve got big plans for the R6. Dur­ing the week it’s go­ing to be my ev­ery­day com­muter, trog­ging up and down the A1 to work and back, and also let­ting me in­dulge in a bit of back-road scratch­ing in the evenings. Then, at the week­ends I’m go­ing to trans­form it into a race bike, ready to take on road rac­ing meet­ings at Scar­bor­ough and also over in Ireland.

I’ve al­ready got the de-cat head­ers on or­der (£685) from Akrapovic which will re­move the heavy stan­dard ex­haust mid-sec­tion and cat. I’ve also or­dered the Yamaha race kit elec­tron­ics and the up-and-down quick­shifter.

‘There are mo­ments when it’s mag­i­cal. It makes me feel 20 again and has me do­ing things I re­ally shouldn’t’

Chad smok­ing his FZ600 – the R6 rekin­dles some of that mad­ness

The R6 prac­ti­cally makes the rider hang off like a loon

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