The first warm-over in 2001 saw some bold new graphics in the shape of the Champions Limited Edition paint jobbies, then an all new version for 2003 and finally this "heavily revised" (their words, not mine) model for 2005. The R series has seen a 40% increase in sales through those model years with the R6 responsible for the majority.
Looking for a well priced leftover 04\'? Don\'t be - Just like last year, they\'re sold out again, that\'s great news for you and me because it has forced Yamaha into pushing the 2005 shipments forward. You\'ll be seeing the new R6 in your dealers as soon as next month. Just like opening your Christmas presents early on Xmas Eve, you\'ll be riding next year\'s bikes, this year. Success breeds success and I know Yamaha are attributing the adage of win on Sunday sell on Monday especially with Hacker nabbing the Supersport class win in 03\' and Jason D\' winning at Daytona this year. One more R6 factoid; How about 51% of all race entries in AMA Supersport are riding the R6. All this adds up to one relevant point - This is an important class to the Yamaha factory.
OK, so the present bike\'s quite handy, how do you go about making it better? Well despite the tech\'s wanting to down a few Red Bull and Vodka\'s and reship last years bike with some BNG\'s (Bold New Graphics), they decided on a simple plan, a plan that soon got complicated the further into the changes that were made. Adding this meant changing that, changing that meant beefing up something else. Soon this minor revamp became a rather large project. Just like those project leaders did, I\'ll start at the front and work my way back.
First up was the change to the front end, once fairly radical for a 600, that change now incorporates the soon-to-be class-standard inverted fork. These 05\' Kayaba\'s are 2mm smaller that last year\'s set-up yet retains the 3-way adjustability that we all know and love. The same damping as last year was also retained but with a little more rake and trail added for improved stability. The spring rates have also been improved and increased with an emphasis on race track ability. To further enhance your on-track experience, the front tire has also been replaced with a taller profile 120/70 Dunlop radial. The change from street to race tire is now possible without altering suspension geometry. If you never see a race track, you\'ll still benefit from an improved ride due to the increased tire wall height.
Tacked on the bottom of those "proper" forks are a set of radial caliper brakes. These brakes are the same units found on the 04\' R1 - Sumitomo (just like the R1). I can attest that for the R6 they offer an improved brake feel and are remarkably consistent at high and low speeds. Part of this obviously has to be attributable to the caliper but I must admit I\'m a big fan of the radial master cylinder that Yamaha saw fit to fit, to compliment the lower unit. Again the same one as found on its bigger brother, feel is exemplary and is a literal life saver if you have the inability to behave yourself. Heavy duty brakes are easy to bolt on but thought did go into this as well - Example: The rotors are up 12mm to 310mm but reduced in thickness .5 mm. The result is a nice fat sweep area and a 7% reduction in weight - cake.
Changes begat changes, the tech crew also revised the rear suspension to compliment the front. The linkage is reshaped to allow it to work in harmony. The byproduct of this is the increase in seat height by 10mm. Being a ripped, rippling \'roided-out six-foot-one\'r, it doesn\'t bother me, however I know a few girly girl riders with little legs who might have trouble with this - our very own AlexF springs to mind. This wasn\'t a simple linkage swap, the cheeky factory chappies also increased spring rate and then beefed up the rear lower frame, mostly as an aid to responsiveness and precision but probably because the "computer-program-race-pace-simulator ™" said they could. The bike is so tall it even warranted a longer side stand. Did they forget about the little people?
Next up for the tuning fork tuners was engine power. More power is always a good thing especially when you have a Daytona 200 coming up. To address the bean issue they decided to up the throttle bore size 2mm from 38 to 40 mm. This and reshaped air intake funnels combined with a re-tuned ECU netted them a 3-horsepower increase. The good news for slowpokes like me is the fact that this was at no detriment to the existing low or midrange power - whoopee, I say to no one in particular. Those intake funnels, by the way, produce a noticeably noisier but delightful intake honk, not quite Ducati but definitely busier sounding.
As per the rest of the project, this motor also needed some additional peripheral adjustments. Due to the reshuffling, the bike now has two smaller radiator fans instead of the big single unit employed before which in turn necessitated a revised inner cowling. Ooh, I forgot... while ya\' down there love; there\'s also a new front fender too. So, what does this all mean to you? Basically everything that has been done to this bike enhances its race abilities and street riders benefit too (unless you\'re short of leg). How does it perform? Here\'s the skinny...
The proposed ride for us was street nirvana in the form of Angeles Crest highway with a nice lazy lunch at Newcombe\'s Ranch and an afternoon thrash to work that said lunch off. Then a quick bash back to the Sky Bar to try and pull some large boobied L.A chicks. Now we\'d seen some pretty iffy weather in "sunny" California recently and it looked like the intro ride might be ixnayed due to those downpours... luckily the day of the intro saw a miraculous change and all was good. However, Angeles Crest\'s very own Mount Disappointed did deliver in the disappointment department and the road was closed due to various mud slides crossing the crest at pretty much both ends. Our revised route saw us hit the neighboring Little Tajunga Valley area.
Setting out on the first part of our journey had us hitting surface streets and freeways. I pulled over almost immediately to adjust the bike more to my liking - remember a comfortable bike equals a fast rider - blah blah. I upped the preload two notches on the ramped preload adjuster and slowed the damping a tiny bit to stop it rebounding back into my bum at every bump. Basically the same thing I do on every bike I ride, in a lame attempt to impress you all with my suspension tuning abilities. Actually it did make it better and a further single click was all it took to make me happy. The front was perfect from the onset so I didn\'t mess with it. I did however pretend to adjust it just to see if anyone was copying me, which a couple did... oh how I laughed.
Just like any six hundred not much is happening below 4000 rpm, keep the Yamaha above that, preferably hovering around the 5 marks, and life is good. Power is perfect for the street and a can of whoop-ass can be dealtout to anyone riding any capacity bike in the twisties. The bike seemed very balanced with nary a nudge on the bars to change direction. The bike responded to mid corner changes quiet nicely too, a feature that\'ll help keep you safe on your Sunday street ride.
This ease of riding paid back in dividends on strange (to me) roads it\'s nice to know there\'s some back up to allow for any margin of error. A couple of us cleared off to set a land speed records and came into a corner a little hot and heavy, not a problem usually, however, the road had mud washed completely over it from one side to another into the corner and through it for a couple of hundred yards - I gingerly eased off the throttle and felt both ends sliding, the bike stayed in perfect shape. Consequently I got through - a great testament to my superior testicular fortitude and lovely skills, oh and the balance of the bike was pretty good too.
On the straight bits and at the upper end of the rev range the bike feels quite powerful too. Wheelies in third and fourth were pretty easy with a slight dip of the clutch and a following breeze. Landings were uneventful especially sans steering damper. I got one head shake on a bumpy road under hard acceleration but I experienced zero pucker-factor for my troubles. One more thing about the Yamaha that I can\'t stress enough about was the comfort. It seems strange to highlight the ergonomics on a race focused platform but Yamaha seemed to nail this one right on the head. The clip-ons are fairly high and quite comfortable. I never got wrist ache in the slow and fast straight stuff which is pretty decent for a Supersport bike like this.
This bike\'s feel is quite refined and I would have no problems doing a long jaunt on this, especially if I had to make good time when doing so. The R6 in black, in my not so humble opinion, looks drop dead gorgeous to boot. We\'ve managed to persuade Yamaha to supply the bike for a track day booked at the end of November - so we\'ll see if it can mind its manners against some bikes with numbers on their sides.
In the mean time, it\'s a win on Sunday, sell on Monday, ride to the Sky Bar Friday, wake up wet and naked on Saturday morning bike, that\'s well sorted - Sorted. Let\'s see how it stacks up to the competition. Stay tuned.