Goes like stink

Fix­ing the R6’s wheezy power is a just an ex­haust (and sev­eral an­gry hip­pies) away

Performance Bikes (UK) - - First Ride -

YAMAHA WERE des­per­ate to prove their claims that the R6’s se­vere lack of top-end power is not their fault, so they pro­duced this: a ‘kit­ted’ R6, which re­ally only amounts to an ex­haust and ECU. They as­sured PB that the sus­pen­sion, gear­ing and en­gine in­ter­nals were com­pletely stan­dard and un­touched.

There are two dif­fer­ent ECUs avail­able in the race kit. One is Su­per­sport-spec, which means no trac­tion con­trol or ABS, and the other has full ad­justa­bil­ity for those two fea­tures. Both ECUs have a full range of other fea­tures, but in re­al­ity a race pipe and re-flash­ing the stock ECU would be all you need to ef­fec­tively bin the Euro 4 junk, let the en­gine breath and pour much more fuel into it. That said, the other fea­tures on the kit ECU are trick. There is an au­to­blip­per, en­gine brak­ing maps, pit­lane speed lim­iter and a brand new ‘anti-jerk’ fea­ture makes its world de­but on the R6. It’s a set of ig­ni­tion and fuel maps that be­come ac­tive on a closed throt­tle, mea­sur­ing wheel and gear­box speeds. The ECU matches the two by cut­ting ig­ni­tion or adding fuel, so that a smoother tran­si­tion from off-throt­tle to on-throt­tle oc­curs. It’s clever stuff, and I ex­pect we’ll see more of it as a so­lu­tion to the com­mon prob­lem of snatchy throt­tle pick-up.

The dif­fer­ence is day and night in terms of how the bike feels – and how much faster it is. It is barely recog­nis­able as the same bike. If I had to take an ed­u­cated guess, I would es­ti­mate at least 10bhp through­out the en­tire rev range from prob­a­bly 105-110bhp at the rear wheel as stan­dard, and dra­matic weight loss with­out the road parts. The com­bi­na­tion of the two changes makes the R6 a proper tool. The en­gine pulls so much harder that on parts of the lap I’m short-shift­ing be­cause I’m on the limit of the tyres’ grip, where pre­vi­ously I was just let­ting the stan­dard bike rev right through. On the back straight, I’m get­ting into sixth, where on the stan­dard bike, I was flat out in fourth. The dif­fer­ence is so dra­matic that I chal­lenge the Yamaha me­chan­ics: surely the bike must have dif­fer­ent gear­ing? They laugh, hand me a torch and some tools, and in­vite me to count the teeth of the two sprock­ets...

In­stead, I used the time to go and dat­a­log some laps on the kit­ted bike. Look­ing at the data traces, it is clear that the lack of trac­tion con­trol and ABS on the Su­per­sport-spec bike con­trib­utes a lit­tle to the faster lap time, as well as some of the other fea­tures. But it is ob­vi­ous where the lion’s share of the three-sec­ond gain is com­ing from... lots more power. I loved the ‘anti-jerk’, and it took a while to as­so­ciate it with the mis­fir­ing sound com­ing from the race ex­haust mid-cor­ner. There is no doubt that the throt­tle re­sponse of the kit bike was bang on the money.

The re­sult­ing three-sec­ond gain from ba­si­cally a race pipe and fuel map shines a light on just how un­kind the added Euro 4 hard­ware and elec­tron­ics have been to the R6. It also takes the R6 to within one sec­ond of a slick-shod 1299 Panigale S that I rode here last year, and which­ever way you cut it, that’s im­pres­sive. The down­side is the kit ECU is track-only – it doesn’t sup­port road func­tions like lights, speedo, etc. But we’ll wa­ger that most, if not all, the same ben­e­fit can be found with a full sys­tem, map­ping and plug­ging up emis­sions con­trols.

This is the bike we all wanted the stock R6 to be

Race sys­tem is com­bined with a new ECU

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