Yamaha R6

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Year: 1999 (T). Mileage: 5457. Price £4599.

The R6 is aimed at the sportier end of the 600 market, but the previous owner of this example obviously had different ideas – the high-rise pillion grabrail he had fitted suggest you can have just as much fun two-up as solo.

However, the change made to the rear suspension to cope with the extra weight of the pillion didn’t make for a machine with razor-sharp handling when there was no-one on the back.

During a quick ride down a smooth, but fast road, accelerating hard through the gears, the higher, stiffer rear end made the front shockingly unstable. Most R6s are perfectly steady, but this one shook its head at every opportunity, turning what was a fine-handling machine into something that could change the colour of your underpants in a few seconds.

Thankfully, you can change the settings with a small screwdriver and the C-spanner which we found was still under the Yamaha’s seat.

The R6 felt bigger than a 600, and a look at the power-to-weight ratio revealed why. With over 100bhp waiting for you, you only have to drive the throttle open hard in the first three gears to realise just how quick this 600 is. It can power wheelie if required and can get from one corner to the next in record time. You need to stir the gearbox a little bit, but rather than being a pain in the foot, that just adds to the enjoyment of riding.

If you want to keep the motor spinning in the lower half of the rev range, it still pulls well from as little as 4000rpm. However, the real fun is to be had after 10,000rpm.

Once you’ve whistled up to the next turn the bike handles so well you can get in way too hot, start to run very wide indeed and simply look where you want to be rather than what you might collide with. The little Yam then tightens its line with a shrug of the shoulders and makes you feel very foolish indeed.

The legendary twin-pot brakes with the blue star design don’t fade with age. Even under hard riding the front stoppers continue to give excellent feel and feedback when the front is biting hard into the Tarmac to get the bike slowed for the approaching corner.

The overall condition of our R6 was good, but there were signs of bolts beginning to fur, which would only get worse with age.

Some taller riders might find the 600 a little cramped, but it depends what you want to use it for. The fact that the owner of this example had apparently planned to do some two-up long-distance riding, yet had put the bike up for sale with a relatively low mileage, indicates it isn’t the best for that sort of work.

But if you fancy going on a few track days or just want an exciting bike that encourages you to tickle the rev limiter regularly, the R6 will fulfil those needs.

What the latest model has: A lighter gearbox, new graphics and a funky‚ ” clear ” tail light. That’s yer lot. People who just have to own the newest model will justify those changes. However, you can laugh in your lid at them when you realise you can afford to do several track days, go abroad and fit new tyres with the money you’ve saved. There’s no noticeable performance difference between the 1999 and 2001 models.

Last year, Yamaha decided to recall all R6s for a modification to an internal oil pipe which delivers oil to the gearbox. It was a push fit and Yamaha decided that it should be secured in place, just in case. To check the bike you’re buying has had the modification done, look for a punch mark in front of the VIN number on the headstock.

Another recall involved the sidestand cut-out switch, which could come loose and stop the engine. Again you’ll see a punch mark, this time over the VIN letters. If you’re unsure, call Yamaha on: 01932-358000 with the VIN number to see if the work has been completed.

A bike that has been used hard can show signs of wear around the top rear shock mount. If excessive, the rear wheel and swingarm will have a lot of play once it is lifted off the floor and isn’t under load from the bike’s weight.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff