Buy­ers’ guide

The early 1990s were a time of fre­netic com­pe­ti­tion in the 600 class. The re­sult? Ace su­per­sports bikes like the FZR600R

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Inside - WORDS ALAN SEE­LEY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BAUER AR­CHIVE

Mid-’90s mid­dleweight mis­cheif with Yamaha’s much un­der­rated FZR600R

YOU CAN THANK Honda for pretty much ev­ery 600 su­per­sports bike worth hav­ing, for the sim­ple rea­son that if the CBR hadn’t been as good as it was, the other man­u­fac­tur­ers wouldn’t have had to try as hard as they did.

When the FZR600R ap­peared at the start of 1994, it im­me­di­ately cat­a­pulted-yamaha to the top of the 600 class. Of course in such a com­pet­i­tive arena, no one ever stayed top-dog for long. But it did mean we were spoilt for choice with bikes that were so bril­liant, they’re still good now. So what made us so ex­cited about the FZR600R?

The 1989-1993 FZR600 that pre­ceded the FZR600R had been a strong seller and a race­track suc­cess foryamaha but in those years the Honda CBR600 be­came the dom­i­nant su­per­sports class bike.time for Yamaha to raise the game again and the FZR600R was the re­sult.

Styling came straight from theyzf750 so good looks are a given.the tall fair­ing made it easy for larger riders to get tucked in. Round head­lights on the FZR600 were re­placed with some­thing closer to a fox-eye shape on the FZR600R.

The frame might have looked to be formed in alu­minium but like the FZR600 was pressed, painted steel al­though a good deal stiffer than the chas­sis of the ear­lier bike and be­cause the 35-de­gree in­clined en­gine was now a stressed mem­ber, the front cra­dle loops could be deleted tak­ing a kilo­gram off the weight of the frame.

The dual-beam frame’s rigid­ity was com­ple­mented by a Deltabox swingarm sim­i­lar to that seen on the FZR400RR SP.

The first year model of­fered preload ad­just­ment at the front and preload and re­bound damp­ing tweak­ing at the rear. Sec­ond year mod­els had com­pres­sion and re­bound damp­ing front and rear.

Brake calipers were car­ried over from the FZR600 but the mas­ter­cylin­der and hoses en­joyed a re­design for the new model. Wheels had been widened to 3.50-inch front and 5.00-inch rear rims for bet­ter tyre choice.

The en­gine had per­haps the big­gest changes of all.where the FZR600’S liq­uid­cooled en­gine had a bore and stroke of 59mm x 54.8mm to give a dis­place­ment of 599cc, the FZR600R mas­sively over-squared the deal with di­men­sions of 62mm x 49.6mm to give 598cc. Peak power rose from a claimed 91bhp@10,500rpm to 98.6bhp a thou­sand revs higher; al­though the ac­tual dyno fig­ure for the new bike was 86.7bhp @10,500rpm.

Steel bar­rel lin­ers were aban­doned in favour of plated alu­minium bores.this let the en­gine shed some weight while al­low­ing tighter clear­ances. weight was also shed in the valve train to abet the higher revs. Carbs went up by 2mm; FZR600 had 32mm FZR600R 34mm on shorter in­lets, fed by an in­creased flow air­box.a 4-2-1 ex­haust sys­tem with 35mm head­ers was spec­i­fied to help with midrange and top-end power.

There was lit­tle to com­plain about in power de­liv­ery terms. It took off just past 6000rpm and de­liv­ered strongly to just below an in­di­cated 12,000rpm, with a 1000rpm over-rev in hand be­fore the 13,000rpm red­line was reached.

All good stuff and the FZR600R pre­sented much to get ex­cited about but just one short year later and theyamaha was down on power, torque and top speed com­pared to the Honda CBR600F and Kawasaki ZX-6R. New graph­ics and ex­tra sus­pen­sion ad­justa­bil­ity plus the peer­less smooth­ness of the en­gine went lit­tle way to com­pen­sate for those short­falls in out­put with the per­for­mance-hun­gry buy­ers of the day.

We’re over all that non­sense now, of course. The FZR600R has much to rec­om­mend it. There’s plenty of space on board – a key con­sid­er­a­tion as none of us are get­ting any smaller, es­pe­cially in girth.the en­gine re­mains a smooth and will­ing de­light while the han­dling re­mains sub­lime, es­pe­cially once a new, bet­ter shock has been fit­ted and the yokes dropped down the fork legs a lit­tle.

As well as be­ing a feisty tool still, the FZR600R makes way more sense now than it did in 1994 at £6299.Yes.

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