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Living with a 2008 Yamaha YZF-R6

Andy loved his R6 and rolled around on it like a cut-price Rossi. Here's his review

June 2008

The first thing you notice is the induction roar that comes from under the petrol tank. The R6 complies with all noise level legislation but so the rider gets the true feel of the bike Yamaha make the induction noise much louder than usual. Clever!

The R6 was taken on the 600  road test this month and while the bike was away I was terrified that it would come back smashed up. The CBR and R6 are both on Dunlops as standard and the ZXR and GSX-R are on Bridgestone’s. Apparently the Dunlops aren’t quite as good and one of the two bikes went down on the test. Lucky for me that it wasn’t mine.

It’ll be worth experiementing with some new rubber when the hot weather arrives, but to be honest I’m no racer and can’t ride anything hard enough to tell the difference. But I’ve always liked the feel of Bridgestones and will go for some of those.

I’ve ordered some bits I consider essential. I’ve got a full set of crash bungs from R&G, because the R6 is very angular and plasticky and I’ve got a feeling even the slightest drop will crack and scuff when I topple off at traffic lights. It happens.

I’ve also got a tail tidy from R&G to get rid of the Eiffel Tower extension on the back and a smaller numberplate from Mal. All that should open the back end up and reveal the fat back tyre in all its glory.

Powerbronze make carbon fibre parts for most new models so I’ve acquired a new rear hugger that’s vented with silver mesh, looks cool, along with some heel guards, exhaust heat shield and chain guard all in carbon fibre. The last thing so far is the Airflow double bubble screen which again is from Powerbronze. The standard screen on the bike is very low and the new screen should help that. It also gives the bike a bit more shape. Pics and details of all these items to follow next month.

July 2008

Living with R6 on a daily basis is great, I’ve got used to it and learnt to appreciate its finer points. It’s still bumpy as feck, but I feel the seating position was tailor made for me. I did a trackday at Brands Hatch this month and the weather couldn’t have been better. The R6 still had the Dunlop tyres on that had then covered 1,700 miles, but I was chuffed because I was lapping in 58 seconds, only 8 seconds of the R6 cup boys then.

The bike really inspired confidence but you have to thrash the arse out of it all the time. I took the pillion pegs and mirrors off in preparation for the day and haven’t put them back on yet, it looks much better without them. Out of interest I took the R6 went to Carbontek Racing, now a franchised Yamaha Premier dealer, to be dyno’d where it rev’d to a healthy 109.5bhp and 42 ftlb’s of torque. The brakes felt a little spongy so I’ve changed the hoses to Hel braided lines from B&C which make them sharper and added some Pazzo levers, but other than that the R6 is spot on.

I knew it wouldn’t take long but I have recently been branded as the office chav and the R6 is known as the chav-charriot. While I agree some modifications look rubbish and that a perfectly good bike can be made to look tacky and old before its time. I’ve set out to improve this bike tastefully.

August 2008

I was invited to take the R6 on our longtermer test to Wales this month. The roads around Breacon are fantastic and a popular place for magazine shoots. There’s something quite unnerving about hitting a corner way up in the hills as fast as you can go only to find a few dozy sheep standing on the apex looking straight at you! Needless to say they couldn’t be bothered to move so escape routes were often used.

I don’t understand these people who say the R6 is too track-focused and not for the road. It cruised the 200 miles up the M4 in comfort with no problem at all and when it’s released up in the hills it’s bumpy for sure over the rougher roads but the suspension’s more than capable of handling twisty bumpy lanes and overpasses. As the Chav Chariot has now been modified suitably (and still with more to come) it feels right to now have a quick run down of the additions and how it went fitting and testing them.

Surprisingly one of the more expensive mods has been the  Pazzo brake and clutch levers. They are £129 for the pair and a host of WSB and BSB team bikes use them because they are light and easily adjustable. Personally I love them because they fit on in 10 minutes and are half the length of the original items, but oddly they really make a difference to the general feel of the bike when you’re riding, they feel good at the fingers and they look great. Levers and other products can be order at www.speedycom.co.uk.

I spent some time choosing the right exhaust for R6, there are so many different ones available and all range from short stubby GP styles to vast chunky ones with massive holes in the end. Since 90% of the noise baffling is done in the cat before the gasses even get to the end can don’t expect a noise increase like you’d get in the good old days. For this reason I went for a Yoshimuru GP R55 slip on can with carbon end. It bolts on in half an hour and it helps if there’s two of you, one with an idea of what he’s doing!

Once on it makes the bike sound deeper and brings some of the noise to the back of the bike instead of it all coming from the airbox. The biggest difference is when its fired up and run at high revs, lots of people at TWO towers have commented on how good and unique it sounds from a distance. Because the can gets rid of the exhaust valve you do sacrifice some engine braking, I would say about 30% of it! This feels odd to start with but you get used to it very quickly, and it may have gained as much as 7bhp at peak, this I will find out for sure in a few weeks. Cost around £350! You can reaserch all the Yoshi product range at www.phoenixnw.co.uk.

Lastly when the Dunlops wore out (2,000 miles of road riding and one track day pretty much shagged the rear and half shagged the front) I changed them for Bridgestone’s latest multi compound BT016’s. Now I’m no racer but you can really feel a massive difference. They stick to the road giving massive confidence and take next to no time to warm up.

What this means to me is that I can ride much more confidently knowing that they tyres will almost certainly hold the road, and subsequently I’ve been throwing it into corners even under braking without a second thought as to whether I would drop the bike. Like I said I’m no racer but this is just simply not something I felt I could do with the Dunlops. The amount of confidence I now have on my R6 is great and can only improve my riding. Costs for a pair of BT016’s are about £220.

COSTS SO FAR

• Airflow Double Bubble - £49.50
• Carbon heel guards - £43
• Carbon vented hugger - £135
• Carbon chain guard - £53
• Flush mounted indicators - £30 www.powerbronze.co.uk
• Pazzo brake levers - £129 www.speedycom.co.uk
• Hel braided lines - £24 www.bandcexpress.co.uk
• R&G Crash protection, sides, forks, swing arm, bar ends - £200
• Radiator cover, tail tidy - £107 www.rg-racing.com
• 7”x5” number plate - £15 www.malplates.co.uk
•Yoshimuru GP R55 slip on exhaust with carbon cap - £350 www.phoenixnw.co.uk
• Bridgestone BT016 tyres - £224 Any good tyre retailer

MILES: 4566

Septmeber 2008

As I write this I have cotton wool in my ears to stop the blood dripping out and staining my shirt! A few months back I said I didn’t feel the need to upgrade the R6 in performance terms because it was already so good. However as time has gone by inevitably I’ve got used to the 600’s power and have been wanting more. I’ve been worried when this moment might come because there isn’t much in the way of an in-between point with new sports bikes, it’s either a 600 you can rag but have to do so all the time, or a 1000 that when used on a daily basis by a ‘ride as fast as you can all the time 26 year old’ becomes a potential life-loser.

So why are my ears bleeding? Because I’ve changed the Yoshimuru end can to a full race system, removed the baffles and the bloody thing is as good as straight through! Apparently when I left the TWO towers car park the other day, John Hogan (the man who likes his bikes loud) had his fingers in his ears! It sounds amazing, just like a GP bike and coupled with a Pipercross air filter and a new Power Commander map the thing feels like a rocket again. Also the Yamaha stock system would balance the scales with a Ford KA so the Yoshi has saved some considerable weight.

I’m totally in love with the R6 and if I’m real honest every now and then I stroke its mirrors and thank it for being so amazing...

Many thanks to Sy and Dan at Carbontek for all their dyno work and advice. www.carbontek.com

MILES: 5257

December 2008

So it’s been a busy month and the R6 has had a proper going over. I took it to Yamaha HQ in Weybridge for its 6,000 mile service. The bike has started to feel a little slack and was becoming quite hard to ride smoothly. So I asked them to tighten things up. They needed the bike for a few days and gave me a Tenere as a replacement.

Going from a race bike to a retro Dakar type machine was quite a change and whilst heading home I began to appreciate biking for what a good majority of riders tend to ride for, rolling round and appreciating the scenery, and the general feel you get while riding a bike. The Tenere was pretty good, tall, comfy and what you would expect, but I was desperate to get back on the R6. I picked it up the following morning and it was cleaner than when it was new, Danny the mechanic cleaned it, put in some new pads front and rear, tightened up the clutch and throttle and put on a set of Bridgestone BT16s, now my most favourite tyre in the world.

The full Yoshimura system is fitted, I had it dyno’d and mapped at Carbontek and finally its making some more power. The charts show that from standard the R6 makes 119 bhp at the crank and 109bhp at the rear wheel and now with the full system a minus the catalytic converter it now makes 125bhp at the crank and 114bhp at the rear wheel. Not that I have been in the mood to use it all, a guy was nabbed on the road near my house a couple of weeks back and really hammered for speeding.

Lastly the bike is kept in my rear garden and I have to back it down two very steep steps each day to put it away at night to the regular amusement of most of the neighbours, Fine-ish in the summer but far from ideal in the winter. I’ve cleared an area of grass out the front of my house and laid a patch of deep concrete, fixed two Abus WBA100 Ground Anchors into it and acquired two Granit Extreme Abus chains that retail at £179 each. So the bike will live there for the time being. I’m sure it will be perfectly secure even if some grubby little oik trys to prise it out.

Check out the video of R6 on the dyno and hear the Yoshi full system on Visordown.

Costs this month:
•    6000 mile service - £150
•    Custom mapping and dyno - £70 www.carbontek.co.uk
•    Bridgestone BT016’s - £240 
•    Granit Extreme Abus chain £179
Miles: 9,525

February 2009

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Sadly that time has come when my steed has to be returned to Yamaha. In my eight years of owning and riding bikes I have to say this is the best bike I have ever had the pleasure of living with.

That statement, as bold as it may be, is made up of a number of contributing factors that have made, in my eyes, the R6 the best all rounder sports bike money can buy. But having said that ‘the best all rounder’ in my eyes can be totally different to Harry the 65 year old veteran biker, for example, who needless to say would find that the R6 vibrates and smashes his frail wrists to nothing while leaving his neck crooked backwards for the rest of his life.

The thing is I’m 27, live in the country and generally live to ride bikes. I ride bikes not only for pleasure, but also as my daily transport so I can safely say motorcycling is totally in my blood and with that in mind, let me explain a few things.

The riding position on the R6 is somehow naturally comfortable. It’s more aggressive than all the other 600s in its class, but you get really good wind protection, good visibility and because you’re right on top of the front wheel of a bike that doesn’t weigh much and is quite slender you feel completely in control of everything it does.

It’s bumpy - the suspension is pretty stiff and I’ve had to learn where all the bumps and dips are in the road on my commute because you really can hurt yourself if you hit them head on.

The engine is spot on, you can ride slowly and smoothly without having to watch your speed every second in case you’ve crept up to 80mph, but if you want to go fast you need to mentally change you’re thinking because the R6 only goes slow or fast comfortably, it doesn’t have a middle ground that’s pleasant to ride in. But if you opt for the fast option, then your hard breaking, hard accelerating, moving you body weight around, keeping it in the power band and with an aftermarket exhaust the noise, feel and exhilaration is truly phenomenal.

The quality and finish is excellent, last year I rode a new GSX-R1000 and the following day got to take a new R1 home and the general finish with the Yamaha was far superior. With the R6 the bike feels tight, solid, non plasticky, and overall it feels like a quality product. Back in March I took delivery of the bike with 0 miles on the clock, 13,000 hard miles later its as good as new. It has lived in my garden under a cover, got wet numerous times, been wheelied, stoppied and had very good use made of the slipper clutch on a regular basis and everything still works great. There is no rust, no fading, no stone chips and most of all it has never, ever, broken in any way.

What would I change? The tyres every time. The standard Dunlops are rubbish, the Bridgestone BT-016s awe inspiring. I started riding in the days of Bridgestones 010s that were super sticky, the new generation of the BT range is phenomenal.

The exhaust needs changing simply because the noise you get when you do is so beautiful. It’s definitely worth investing in some crash protection bungs, in the days of the old SRADs or ZX-7Rs if you slid it down the road usually all that would cop it would be a bit of the exhaust and a small 2inch round patch somewhere on the fairing - the R6 looks as though you would scratch every panel, but then that’s because the fairings are beautiful crafted from lots of different ingeniously

moulded pieces of plastic.

I would recommend this bike to anyone that wants something to have fun on, to improve their riding skills on and ultimately wants to feel like they own one of the best bits of kit on the road.

FINAL TALLY

MILES: 13,112