First Ride

Niall's Spin: Yamaha YZF-R6

The Yamaha YZF-R6 may be pleasing but be a bit more cautious when it comes to the suspension..

Click to read: Yamaha YZF-R6 owners reviews, Yamaha YZF-R6 specs and to see the Yamaha YZF-R6 image gallery.

IN 2003 600s took a step forward with a new ultra-sporty breed appearing rather than the all-round bikes they'd always been. This almost caught Yamaha on the hop - they were erring to the slightly more user-friendly end of the supersport 600 spectrum, but the heavily revised R6 managed to combine both
elements better than any other. Trouble was, it was always about 0.01% slower round race tracks than the ZX-6R, CBR600RR and GSX-R600 and looked similar to the previous year's model, so was unfairly ignored.

The reality was that the 2003-'04 R6 was - and still is - an immensely usable and useful tool, both on the road and track. While revvy, its motor proved far more flexible than the increasingly race-focused CBR600RR's, and almost (but not quite) as strong as the 636cc ZX-6R's. Suspension is a touch on the firm side for road use - the rear shock is stiffly sprung, kicking lighter riders out of the seat but working particularly well for those carrying a bit of excess baggage around the midriff. Brakes are okay, not exceptional, and benefit from braided hoses - but if a previous owner has fitted some check they're routed properly and not fouling anywhere.

Motors work exceptionally well with a full system and Dynojet Power Commander fitted - even a baffled full system, such as an Akrapovic, on its own will give an instant improvement in power across the whole rev range. Such kit is pricey when new (about a grand) so pay extra for a bike with one fitted.

Some owners prefer the feel of a 70-section front tyre over the OE 60-section. If they've swapped sizes make sure the yokes have been dropped down the forks by 5mm or so, and that everything is in line and properly put back together - many people over-tighten top yoke fork clamp bolts and damage the bolts
and threads.

The incredibly track focused (and worse on the road) 2006 R6 is pushing prices lower.

Key ID: earlier bikes lacked four reflector headlights and FI; 2005 R6s got inverted forks and radial front brakes.

Walk away: from obvious signs of heavy track use - it won't kill it but plenty have had easy lives. Also avoid tastelessly blinged-up monstrosities unless all back-to-standard bits are included.

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