Splitting heirs: Yamaha YZF-R6 2005 vs. 2006

I know the R6 well not only 'cos I raced one for three seasons in World Supersport but also because we used 'em as marshals' bikes on our track days.

Posted: 27 January 2011
by James Whitham, Tim Dickson

I KNOW THE R6 well, not only 'cos I raced one for three seasons in World Supersport but also because we used 'em as marshals' bikes on our track days. I've done a million laps of everywhere on R6s, and riding one is like putting on a pair of well-worn slippers.

You pretty much know what you can do with the 2005 R6, and as long as you don't push it you've got no bother at all. That said, the '05 bike does feel old, and that goes from the seating position to the geometry and fairly soft but compliant suspension.

The '06 R6 is a different kettle of fish. It feels smaller, a nicer package with a Swiss watch feel to it. It's stiffer front and rear - almost too stiff, I thought at first - and is a lot more race-oriented. It feels like a little race bike. You've got a bit more weight on your hands and it's less comfortable for mileage, but going round a circuit it doesn't matter at all. Instead of being sat in the seat with the tank in front of you, it feels like you're actually sat on top of it, with the top of the seat and the back of the tank at what feels like the same level, and that pushes more weight forward. You get a lovely, lovely induction roar too, not loud, but a real deep, low sound feeding back through the bodywork and the tank.

Engine-wise the '05 R6 pulls alright and feels stronger low down than the new bike but there's quite a big gap between second and third gear. It's not the best gearbox in the world, either the choice of ratios or the way it changes. Certainly the standard ratios aren't the best for Almeria. You're always between second and third, and the motor hasn't got the grunt to be running third in places, but if you drop down into second it's all over the place because the revs are too high and you've got too much engine braking. What I found myself doing was using the higher gear, running a little bit quicker mid-corner and waiting for a fraction of a second extra instead of leaping out of the corners. That was pushing me a bit wide but it didn't matter because the power doesn't come in and push you off the track. You're allowing for not having a lot of power, which keeps you going round the corner rather than off the track.

It was a surprise to me but back-to-back the new bike doesn't feel as strong. It just doesn't feel it. I know it's got more power at the top end, and certainly it's going quicker by the end of the straight, because I can look as long as I dare at the speedo and it's definitely four or five mph up, but it doesn't feel to have loads of power.

When everybody said it revved to 17,000rpm I thought it was going to go fucking bananas at 14,000 or so, but that isn't the case. It isn't the rev box I thought it would be. The power's spread out from 8500-9000 right up to maximum power at 14,000 or so, and you can rev it on to 15,500. And that has its advantages. You can hold onto the gears longer in the corners, which is something you can't do with the '05 bike. But I thought the new bike would feel peakier than it does. Instead, it's like an engine that revs to 14,500-15,000, but with an extension of 2000rpm if needed. But the power stops going up, it kind of flattens off. There's more power than before, but spread over a wider range of revs.

And I tell you what, I really like the fueling. I don't know if it was down to the fly-by-wire or what, but it's dead smooth. But just once, when I was right off the bottom of the revs, it was just a little bit... I don't know... I guess 'notchy' is the word.

The new bike's ratios are closer too, and that means you can run second in corners where, on the old bike, second was too low. I found myself running lower gears with higher revs as if I were racing it, and
it felt brilliant. Instead of sitting in a higher gear waiting for the power to come in you could just ping it out.
The slipper clutch works really well. It feels like you've got about 50 per cent slip. You could shut it off and bang a gear down and you'd almost lock up and get a bit of movement; it gives some feedback and you could feel it through the lever as well, but some people might not like that. I did.Certainly some race bikes I've ridden run nearly 100 per cent slip, and it's just fuckin' frightening - you shut 'em off and it's like you've hit a neutral.

Continue the Yamaha YZF-R6 2005 vs. 2006 test - 2/4


The first R6 and a modern classic. The easiest way to spot the original R6 is to look for the carbs; later
models got slightly less garish paint schemes. The front tyre is an all-new 120/60 size

The first update to the R6. The give aways are the black frame and fork legs. The chassis received minor tweaks, the engine got fuel injection and the look is slightly sharper. The 120/60 front tyre remains

Another slight tweak. Throttle bodies are bigger, so slightly more power, and the brakes are now radially mounted. Forks are upside-downers too. Also, and significantly, the front tyre is now a 70-section

Nothing at all like the previous bike. New engine, frame, chassis, wheels, fairing - just about everything, to be accurate. A lot more expensive, but the current all-singing, all-dancing sports 600. Until next year...

Previous article
First Ride: KTM 990SMT ABS
Next page

MPG, price, review, for sale, parts, forum, specs, top speed, tyres, specifications, bhp, r6, Yamaha r6, 2005 r6. 2006 r6, yzf r6, yzf-r6, yamaha, 600, horsepower, pictures, seat height, oil, uk, exhaust

Discuss this story

Love to know what make the screen is fitted to the 05 R6 and where to get one?

 Apart from that cracking article

Posted: 27/01/2011 at 16:51

Love to know what make the screen is fitted to the 05 R6 and where to get one?

 Apart from that, cracking article

Posted: 27/01/2011 at 16:51

Talkback: Splitting heirs: Yamaha YZF-R6 2005 vs. 2006

Busiest motorcycle review conversations