The aluminium frame is lifted from the old bike – with the rake and trail remaining the same – but the fully adjustable forks have been stolen form the R1 and now have a 2mm wider 43mm diameter. The front wheel comes from the MT-10, which now accommodates a larger 320mm front disc (up from 310mm). The calipers and radial master cylinder are new, again borrowed from the R1, and ABS comes as standard.
The ABS brakes are a step forward over the old model’s, as is stability under hard stopping. The new forks deliver first class feel, and give you the confidence to brakes late and deep into corners. Once turned the R6 craves even more corner speed than before. Its agility and accuracy on track are stunning; it hits every apex with ease.
'The R6 steers beautifully' - MCN's Adam Child
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.
On the brakes
The ABS brakes are a step forward over the old bike, with improved stability. The new 43mm forks offer excellent feel and give you the confidence to break late and deep into corners. It’s agility and accuracy on track is first class, it hits every apex with ease.
The ABS can’t be switched off though, however it doesn't feel like it's 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 trackdays it’s perfect.
The new R6 has had to meet Euro4 emissions regs and its peak power and torque are down compared to the old model. Yamaha are quoting just 116bhp @ 14,500rpm and 45.5ftlb at 10,500rpm, which compares to 122bhp and 49.93ftlb of the old bike.
There’s crisp new fuelling but the engine remains virtually unchanged apart from the addition of a gear position sensor, which both informs the rider of the gear selected but also allows different maps for each gear.
The Euro4 engine feels strangled, it revs freely but couldn’t open its lungs to show what it could do – the famous R6 top-end rush is sadly lacking.
Modify to reach the full potential
To unleash the full potential, we would suggest adding a free breathing Akrapovic exhaust system - something we did to our 2017 long-term test bike. Previously kicking out 114bhp, the R6 is now capable of a healthy 121bhp, with more to come.
More importantly, midrange power is now increased too, however it is £323 for the titanium silencer and £685 for the stainless downpipes. The gain is impressive, but man maths would be the reason to justify the purchase.
A lap of Cadwell Park
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.
Plenty of touring capability
At fast motorway speeds, 90mph-ish the analogue rev counter is hovering around 8500rpm, which sounds painful but isn’t – peak power isn’t until 14,500rpm and the redline is at 16,500rpm.
Even at this high rpm it’s averaging close to 50mpg and nearly 130miles before the fuel light flicks on. The standard screen is just about tall enough and the ergonomics are fine at motorway speeds.
Despite the high revving nature of the R6 we don’t envisage any problems with the latest version as it’s primarily based on the reliable previous model.
That said, owners have previously reported issues with the bike's EXUP servo due to lack of use on the last generation of Yamaha R6. What's more, there have also been recorded complaints of cold starting issues, with the bike struggling at low rpms shortly after the initial start-up. However, once up to temperature, it is fine.
At just under £11,000 at its launch, the Yamaha R6 was (and remains) an expensive supersport bike, but is the only Japanese 600 machine which is currently Euro4 compliant. it is also the only 600 to come with traction control and ABS as standard.
Flash forward to 2018 and this price has further increased to £11,499 - making it a similar price to top-spec litre bikes from only a handful of years ago.
Six-way traction control comes as standard, and works from wheel sensors instead of the more common internal measurement unit (IMU). The TC level can be changed on the move, but can only be deactivated at a standstill. There are three rider modes plus a conventional, upshift-only quickshifter. ABS now comes as standard and can’t be switched off.