MCN Fleet: When it all click the R6 is magical

Published: 16 August 2017

I’ve completed over 4000 miles on the Yamaha so far and most of it has been in the guise of a workhorse. I live almost 100 miles from work and commute every day, grinding through torrential downpours on the A1 as well as enjoying the R6’s power and poise on B-roads.

But a cheap £45 evening trackday at Cadwell Park seemed like a great time to try the bike in it’s perfect habitat – the track. I can’t think of a current production bike that is more perfectly suited for the track.

Everything clicks as you leave pit lane. All the aches and pains you’ve been forced to endure on the road are forgotten about once the needle passes the magic 10,000rpm.

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It sounds brutal – most bikes redline at 10,000rpm or below, but the R6 really needs to be hammered for a fast lap, all the way to its 16,500rpm redline. It will drive from 7000rpm but below that it feels like you’re towing a caravan. Around the glorious Cadwell Park you need to stay in the sweet-spot, between 10,000rpm and 16,000rpm. The rev-happy Yam takes the punishment lap after lap.

The R6 loves the abuse

You’re forced to use the correct gear in every corner and the rev-limiter becomes your friend. It takes concentration to link a fast lap, you have to be accurate with your lines, carry your corner-speed to keep the revs singing. You can’t be lazy and use the midrange, as there simply isn’t any. It sounds painful and hard work, but the Yam encourages you to ride harder. It’s the closest you’ll get to a race bike.

The R6 steers beautifully, it’s accurate and easy. I added a little more preload as the forks were bottoming out on the run into the Mountain, causing the R6 to understeer a little, but otherwise the front was perfect.

The rear was a little soft. I’d previously reduced the preload for the road, from 5mm to 13mm of unladen sag. We could have reduced the sag a little more to 10mm but I actually preferred the soft compliant feel of the rear end. I’m more accustomed to road bikes not race bikes with very little feel and prefer the softer set up and increased feedback.

As the 2017 R6 is Euro4 homologated, the ABS can’t be switched off. However, I didn’t feel it was hindering a fast lap. The same can be said of the standard traction control. It still allowed small controllable wheelies over Cadwell’s famous Mountain and only kicked in when the rear tyre started to spin when the bike went light. Again, if I was really trying for a fast race lap I’d want the traction control switching off, but like the ABS, for normal track days it’s perfect.

When it all clicks together the R6 is magical – hard work is rewarded. Not every lap will be perfect, you’ll select the wrong gear or the revs will drop below 10,000rpm, but when it all comes together the R6 is as good as it gets. A late summer evening, long shadows and perfect conditions at Cadwell Park, one of the best tracks in the UK, linking apex to apex, rev counter above 10,000rpm on a bike designed for the track – it really doesn’t get much better.

Yamaha R6 facts

Price: £10,999

Fuel: 17 litres @ 43mpg = 160 miles range (on track 29.8mpg)

Power: 114.9bhp @ 14,500rpm tested

Weight: 190kg (wet)

Seat height: 850mm

Height: 5 ft 6 in

Weight: 75kg

Miles: 4133

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