2005 Yamaha R6 Intro
I've owned an open-class sportbike and loved its instant acceleration from anywhere in the rev range, but I also remember wishing it would change direction a little quicker. I've owned an Aprilia RS250 and loved its cat-like reflexes, but wished it didn't require three downshifts followed by aggressive clutch fanning just to make a quick pass. A few years ago, you would have thought there was no way to mix the two. That was then. Nowadays, we have middleweight sportbikes delivering 105+ bhp to the ground, coupled with 415-pound wet weights and the chassis rigidity of a GP racer. Man, I sure do love a good 600 Supersport!
Last year, the 2003 Yamaha R6 won the MO 600 Supersport Shootout, based on its combination of comfort, engine performance and overall rider friendliness. However, it narrowly missed a victory in the racetrack portion of that test, due to an unsettling feeling from turn-in through mid-corner. That feeling was something like an impending front-end tuck and at the time, we couldn't figure out how to make it go away. I'm happy to report that Yamaha has solved the problem, by equipping the 2005 R6 with a 70 series Dunlop D218 front tire, instead of the 60 series D208 that was standard on the '03 and '04 bikes. This change in tire profile is probably the single greatest contribution to the improved front-end feel of the 2005 R6. However, numerous other front-end changes have been made to enhance the R6's racetrack potential. The most notable of these changes is the new Kayaba 41mm upside-down fork (last year's bike was equipped with a 43mm conventional fork), and the addition of new radial-mount 4-piston Sumitomo calipers. Those trick calipers are controlled by an excellent Brembo designed radial master cylinder (both calipers and the master cylinder are the same parts as used on the '04 R1) and squeeze a set of new 310mm rotors that are 7% lighter than last year's 298mm units.
On the surface, those new forks and radial-mount calipers are the only obvious changes for 2005. However, the upgraded front suspension components required matching updates to the rear, to maintain the bikes' overall handling balance. Rear suspension updates include a more progressive linkage that raises the seat height by 10mm and modifications to the frame aimed at improving stiffness around the swingarm pivot. In addition, front and rear spring rates have been increased by 6.5% & 5% respectively, to compliment the increased progressiveness of the shock linkage. Because the taller rear ride height would result in a slightly steeper steering head angle, Yamaha chose to increase rake & trail by 0.5° and 9mm. Likewise, the R6's wheelbase increases by 5mm, to 1385mm. Revised damping rates and new brake pad materials round-out the suspension and chassis changes for 2005.
Even though the 104Hp 2003/4 R6 was already one of the strongest 600cc sportbikes on the planet, Yamaha decided to revise its tuning to enhance high rpm breathing. Engine revisions include shorter and wider intake funnels feeding new 40mm Mikuni EIS/4 throttle bodies that are 2mm larger than last year's units. A new fuel pressure regulator increases pressure inside the injectors by nearly 20% (from 41 to 48psi), while a re-tuned ECU helps to maintain decent low-to-mid range response.
What does all this mean? Well, Yamaha claims an increase of 3Hp at speed with ram-air. What Yamaha didn't know, was that MO's photographer Fonzie and I secretly replaced their test unit with Folger's Crystals, while we snuck-off mid-intro and took the new R6 back to MO for a quick Dyno session. I suspect that the Motorcycle.Com dyno chart is something of a scoop and it will probably be a while, before other publications get a chance to dyno the new 2005 600s. Our dyno results were hardly shocking, showing that our very low mileage R6 made 105.17Hp @ 12,800RPM and 43.77LbFt @ 10,200RPM. For comparison, our fully broken-in 2003 R6 made 104.2Hp and 44.3LbFt at slightly lower RPMs. I suspect that since our test unit only had 380 miles on it when we put it on the dyno, it will most likely meet or exceed Yamaha's claim of a 3Hp improvement, once it has another thousand miles under its belt.
Choose Your Color!
| Shift Red:
| Team Yamaha Blue/White:|
Now that you know the tech side of the story, I suppose you are wondering what the new R6 is like to ride and if the 05 updates are noticeable in the "real" world. The short answers are: Brilliant! and Yes! Last week, Yamaha invited MO to a casual intro for the R6. Following a brief tech presentation and a few minutes spent grab assing with their personable PR guy and assorted journalists at the Mondrian Hotel's Sky Bar, we set off for the excellent roads of Little Tujunga Canyon and the famous Angeles Crest Highway. Unfortunately for us, Southern California had just finished a two-day storm that left the roads covered with water, mud, rocks and tree limbs. These are great conditions for testing dual-purpose bikes, but not so hot for sportbikes.