Yamaha YZF-R6

Yamaha – Elevated To The Next Level
By Staff Writer

Yamaha started out to give the 2005 YZF-R6 more horsepower and a new fork,and wound up engineering a nearly new motorcycle. The R6 may be designed to win races on the track, but it also works well out here in the real world. Heavily revised for 2003 and tweaked for ’04, the R6 has received several upgrades for ’05, most of them aimed at improving the outstanding handling.

Those changes start with a switch from a 120/60-17 front tire to a 120/70-17, with a taller sidewall that raises the front end of the bike by nearly a centimeter. In addition, the front end is now connected to the bike through a new, upside-down fork. To even things out in the suspension department, there is a new rear shock linkage, resulting in an extra centimeter of seat height, and more cornering clearance.

Also new are the front brakes, a pair of radial-mounted four-piston calipers sourced from the ’04 R1. For more stopping power, they now grab 310mm discs (up 12mm from last year). A radial master cylinder at the lever designed to give those more powerful brakes a linear feel has been added.

Then there is the engine, where larger 41mm throttle bodies, re-shaped air funnels and a tweaked ignition map are said to up peak horsepower by 3 ponies, while the low-and mid-range are unchanged.

Out on the mud-covered roads, you can appreciate several of those changes.

For example, you come around a corner to find the entire road ahead coated in powdery dried mud. You have precious few feet of clear pavement to get the bike hauled down before you reach the slippery stuff. A gentle two-finger tug on the lever is all that is needed for a truly dramatic deceleration, while the new front end offers excellent feel for available traction.

Another example, you get most of the way through a corner to discover that there are only two narrow tire tracks of clear pavement ahead through a road that looks more like a hard-packed desert than an asphalt. No problem. The R6 is absurdly easy to put exactly where you want, especially at street speeds, which are far from the edge of its performance envelope.

Harder to evaluate on the street is the extra horsepower. In bad road conditions, it is tough to let the motor stretch its legs. But jumping on the freeways to blast back to town before dark, traffic jockeying on the R6 can actually be fun. A downshift is all it takes to arc the tachometer toward its 15,500 rpm redline and to make the R6 leap into any available opening.

Staying out front in the Supersport wars takes power. Bigger throttle bodies, improved fuel injection, revised intake funnels and more, result in a smoother, fatter powerband with three more horsepower at 13,000 rpm. Light weight, razor-sharp handling, unsurpassed overall balance – elevated to the next level. That is why the R6 was the winner of Motorcycle-USA.com’s Supersport Shootout for 2003 and 2004.