The Yamaha XJ6 has a new tubular steel diamond type chassis, using the engine as a stressed member, to save weight and add strength. Bodywork and steel box-section steel swingarm is new and the forks are down 2mm in diameter compared with the Yamaha FZ6 to 41mm.
With its low seat and narrow fuel tank, the Yamaha XJ6 is very easy to get on and ride, short or tall, on your own or with a pillion. On the move there’s zero vibration felt from the engine and around town the XJ6 is agile and easy to navigate through traffic. The steering lock is pretty handy too.
This is a retuned version of the engine you’ll find in the current Yamaha FZ6, which in turn is an old-school Yamaha R6 lump. It gets a new cylinder head, softer-performance camshafts, reshaped inlet ports, new forged pistons and a one-piece crankcase and cylinder block. The motor breathes through a new fuel-injection system with smaller diameter (down 32mm from 36mm) throttle bodies and a neat underslung exhaust, featuring a three-way catalytic converter. A new clutch and gearshift design make changing gear smoother and easier than the Yamaha FZ6. All this fettling is designed to make the Yamaha XJ6 flexible and friendly to ride. Claimed power and torque is less than the FZ6 (by 20bhp and 2ftlb), but usefully delivered much lower down the rev-range (2000rpm and 1500rpm).
There’s less need to stir the six-speed gearbox to keep up with traffic than the FZ6, making town riding nice and easy. At very low speeds the throttle response is snatchy when getting on and off the gas, but as speeds increase and the engine is spinning more it’s less of a problem. Overall the motor is very smooth, friendly and has lots of power (77bhp) if you’re prepared to rev it; enough for decent wheelies.
Despite the fettling to make the engine gruntier, you can still feel its supersports DNA and it never really relaxes, it’s always busy, buzzing and you often find yourself searching for another gear when you’re already in sixth. It’s not as bad as the Yamaha FZ6’s motor and you soon get used to it, but more grunt and less revs would make the Yamaha XJ6 even better. As it is, the engine is still impressive and the new, smoother-action clutch and gearbox help the job along.
For a budget machine, the Yamaha XJ6 is well-designed, well thought-out and well-built. The paint finish is excellent and it’s solidly screwed together, although there’s a huge gap between the back of the engine and the rear shock, which you could fit a lunchbox in, which is a bit odd. Costing just £4500, it’s a lot of bike for the money and right in the budget middleweight ballpark.
The Yamaha XJ6 is a superb machine, comfy, practical and lots of fun too. It’s a lot of funky middleweight fun for little money.
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It’s not overloaded with toys, but for the price, the Yamaha XJ6 comes with a decent level of equipment. There’s a multi-function LCD dash and preload adjustment for the rear shock. Handlebars are adjustable back and forward by 20mm and Yamaha offer an ABS version for an extra £300. Accessories from the official Yamaha catalogue include crash bobbins, a centre stand, a backrest, panniers and top box, an engine guard, tank pad, tank bag and rack. Compare and buy products for the Yamaha XJ6 in the MCN Shop.