2005 Yamaha R6 Intro

When it was time to depart, I claimed an R6 with the beautiful new black paint scheme. I think the black makes the bike appear significantly more svelte in person and the red pinstripes around the rims really set the whole scheme off. As the loosely organized group traveled the 25 miles from Downtown Hollywood to the Angeles National Forest, I found a clear and dry section of freeway and put the spurs to the new R6, HARD, twice. The first run was a top-gear roll-on from 5,200RPM (60MPH) and the engine's response was quite encouraging with a very smooth and linear spread of power that developed a noticeable urgency just after 9,000RPM. I performed the second acceleration test in a more suitable manner for a 600, starting with four downshifts at 60MPH, followed by a very nice honk from the intake as the bike practically leapt out from under me on its eight-second trip through 125+ MPH. While those quick blasts left me suitably impressed with the R6's power delivery, they also served to highlight an increasingly common issue with modern 600s. That issue is headshake/tank-slap. Much like the Kawasaki ZX-6R, the Yamaha R6 feels a little too nervous for my comfort, when accelerating hard over uneven surfaces (like CA freeways). It never threatened to descend into a full-on speed wobble, but it did cycle the bars back-n-forth enough after each hard upshift to make me pause and take notice. I don't think there is any way around the fact that as unsprung weight and rotating inertia continue to decrease and steering geometry becomes more racer like, modern sportbikes will disRefinements to the R6s' fuel injection tuning have resulted in improved throttle response everywhere in the rev range and a slightly more user-friendly power delivery than last year's model. play a greater need for a steering damper. This isn't all bad however, because this same instability is one of the primary reasons that big four-strokes are able to handle more and more like 250GP bikes. I just think it's probably a good time for the OEMs to start equipping their 600s with steering dampers.

As I make my way off the highway and into the mountains, the roads are partially covered by loose dirt with mud and/or water in the shady areas. These conditions have me making frequent mid-corner line changes and varying my throttle inputs at odd moments. None of these situations upset the R6's chassis and the excellent fuel injection tuning means that the bike is able to respond to my throttle inputs with 100% accuracy. In no time at all, I'm deliberately spinning the tire out of corners and generally acting the fool (it comes  naturally). I continue like this for twenty miles of messy twisties, until it is time to stop at a rendezvous point for a photo session.

In no time at all, I'm deliberately spinning the tire out of corners and generally acting the fool (it comes naturally)As the journalists milled about, I backtracked a mile or so down the road, to help scout for a likely photo corner. Unfortunately, a dry but dirty and rock-strewn section was the best we could do, so I decided to make several passes over that same area to establish a clean line, while the photographer finalized his ranges and everybody set-up. On my third pass, I was concerned to note Bambi hopping along on a collision course perpendicular to my direction of travel. I was already traveling about 75MPH at this point and ended up panic braking just in time to see her hooves flash-by about 10inches in front of the R6's fairing. WHEW! I was able to scrub-off nearly 50MPH of that speed in a remarkably short distance. Considering the condition of the road, if the new master cylinder didn't offer such fantastic feel and control, there is a very good chance that I would have tucked the front and crashed in front of 15 journalists, two photographers and several Yamaha reps. As I rolled back to the assembled group, they all pantomimed wiping sweat off their brows and said stuff to the effect of "nice save, we thought you were a goner for sure". I'd love to take credit for missing the deer, alas I fear most of the credit goes to the new brakes on the R6. We continued the photo shoot without incident, followed by an impromptu (and totally hairball) journalists GP to the lunch stop.

After lunch, I jumped on a red&white R6, grabbed Fonzie and snuck away for a covert run back to MO to get those aforementioned dyno numbers. This turned out to be an excellent decision, for not only did we get the dyno numbers/video of the bike, but the roads we chose were clean, dry, deserted and offered a delightful combination of elevation changes, curves and scenery. I spotted a lovely set of sunlit S-curves about fifteen minutes into our mission and decided to pull-over and have Fonzie shoot a couple roadside video clips, as I ran through the esses. Even though this section of road was a little rough and traction wasn't 100% due to the recent rains, the R6 and I quickly established a nice rhythm. In the video, I'm entering the first turn at about 100MPH, then scrubbing speed to around 85MPH with a downshift back to second between corners. By the time I apex the second corner, my speed is down to about 70MPH and 9,500RPM in second gear. As you can see, I am able to get back into the throttle fairly hard at the apex and drive out of the corner with a minimum of drama. This is a good example of the new R6's suspension compliance working in concert with its outstanding brakes and linear fuel injection, to maintain good control without sacrificing a well-honed performance edge.

Another thing that is worth noting in that video is the awesome intake sounds before the bike comes into the frame. Turn your volume up and re-listen to the part of the video before the bike is visible, it'll give you goosebumps. (should I work for Yamaha's AD agency or what?).

Once Fonzie and I had made our way back out of the mountains, the twisty portions of the day were well and truly over and we needed to do some serious freeway droning, if we were to make it all the way down to MO, do the dyno runs and then get back, to the day's closing ceremonies in Hollywood, before anyone   Cockpit layout and rider accomidations remain at the forefront of 600 Supersport comfort and design.        noticed our absence. During this 100-mile freeway jaunt, a couple of comfort issues came to light. First and foremost for someone my size (35yrs old, 6'2", 208Lbs), the current generation R6 ('03 -'05) is easily the most comfortable 600 Supersport on the planet. There is something special about the ergonomics of the R6, which prevents the compact/cramped dimensions from becoming uncomfortable. I have no idea why this is, but the R6 doesn't cause nearly the long-haul discomfort of a GSXR, ZX-6 or 600RR. Whatever it is, I hope Yamaha doesn't mess with it. On the other hand, the engine tends to be quite buzzy in the 4,000 - 8,000 RPM range. The 4K buzzing starts in the seat and pegs, but gradually shifts to the clip-ons as the revs approach 8K. This tingle was somewhat obtrusive, but never progressed into what I would call a "problem" and you can always change the massage zone by selecting a different gear. Besides, if you are shopping for a smooth and roomy long-range freeway hauler, I seriously doubt you'd be considering a 600 Supersport in the first place.

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