Life in fast lane: R6 ownership is a blast
Yamaha’s impractical R6 serves up moments of spine-tingling bliss
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).
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