2005 Yamaha R6 Track Test
It's getting warm, oh yeah I'm feeling the burn..... on my knee that is. You see, I'm indicating 123MPH and my right knee has been skimming along the asphalt all the way from the pit exit through the apex of Turn One. I wouldn't have noticed this issue on last year's R6, because I would have been preoccupied with thoughts of tucking the front, thanks to the vaguely "funky" turn-in feeling last year's R6 produced. Demons Be Gone! Praise Jesus! Evidently, that issue is a thing of the past, because the 2005 R6 is perfectly comfortable everywhere on the racetrack.
Lest we get ahead of ourselves, you can go back to the R6's U.S. Press Intro, to review the new bike's updates and street manners. For those who won't bother to re-read that story, here is a recap of the technical changes, followed by more impressions from this R6 track test.
Yamaha seems to have solved the turn-in feel 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 changes were 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. The calipers are controlled by a Brembo designed radial master cylinder and squeeze a set of new 310mm rotors that are 7% lighter than the 298mm rotors on last year's R6.
To maintain the bikes' overall handling balance, Yamaha was forced to make matching updates to the rear. 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.
The rest of the R6 remains true to form, as this new version continues the old R6 legacy of class leading comfort, light weight, and an ease of use that gives this bike a surprising harmony with its rider.
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. Yamaha claims a 3HP increase, at speed, with ram-air. 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 2005 test unit only had 380 miles on it when we put it on the dyno, it will most likely meet or exceed Yamaha's claims, once it's fully broken-in.
The rest of the R6 remains true to form, as this new version continues the old R6 legacy of class leading comfort, light weight, and an ease of use that gives this bike a surprising harmony with its rider. At the racetrack, the new tires and updated chassis come together with these traits to produce a bike that thrives on tight twisty sections.
Choose Your Color!
|Team Yamaha Blue/White:|
In Part I of this test, I noticed a bit of instability on the freeway and recommended that potential R6 owners purchase a steering damper. However at the track, I never had any issues with head shake, even though I was aggressively counter-steering and transitioning over several different cambers and levels of surface smoothness. I suspect this has something to do with my keeping the front-end more (ahem!) "planted", while actually trying to go fast at the track, as opposed to playing around, pulling wheelies and other funky maneuvers on rough pavement, like I was doing in Part 1. I'd still recommend a steering damper for anybody who rides hard, but I will concede that the R6 is quite well behaved, for a 600 Supersport.
Even though I'm on stock D218 street tires, the new R6's chassis and brakes allow me to out-brake several expert racers. Those outbraking maneuvers sometimes end with the bike off-line, but the nimble chassis allows me to keep the racers behind me, while I regain the proper line and establish a cushion. I found that the best cushions were gained, when I'd pass just before a tight section, then quickly whip the bike right-left-right through the next several corners, so that the racebikes wouldn't be close enough to re-pass down the next straight. Considering that these shenanigans all took place on a stock suspension and street tires, it's hard to deny the overall racetrack potential of the R6.