Video: Yamaha reveal 'radical' new YZF-R6 for 2017

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Yamaha have revealed their new 2017 YZF-R6 in America today, complete with M1 styling, 6-level traction control, quickshifter, D-Mode, 43mm R1 forks with radial mount calipers and 320mm discs, plus full Euro4 compliance and ABS.

With over 160,000 units sold in Europe – and having won the World Supersport Championship 3 times in the last 7 years – the YZF-R6 may have become a little long in the tooth, but it was still one of the sharpest and most track-focused supersport bikes you can buy. And for 2017 it’s got a whole lot sharper.


As many manufacturers turn their backs on the Supersport market, reacting to ever-decreasing sales by giving owners even more reasons not to buy a new model, Yamaha have boldly committed to the sector with this heavily revised and redesigned 2017 YZF-R6.

As well as using some of the latest YZF-R1 derived chassis technology together with a decent raft of cutting edge electronics, the new model also gets an aggressive visual overhaul, that borrows very heavily from the firm’s flagship YZF-R1, and their M1 MotoGP bike.

With its M1-type central forced air intake, recessed LED twin headlights, and inset LED running lights, there’s no mistaking the family resemblance.

The side ducts and flowing horizontal lines give what Yamaha describe as a “cross-layered design” which they claim underlines the bike's aerodynamic design. Yamaha also say this is their most aerodynamically efficient YZF-R6 ever, the low drag front cowl comprising a key elements and learnings from the YZF-R1, to deliver a claimed 8% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency. As well as the redesigned front cowl and screen, the bike's new LED indicators are incorporated within the rear view mirrors to reduce turbulence and drag, while the twin LED headlamps are recessed slightly further back than the R1’s, making them less visible and heightening the M1-alike frontal profile.

The 2006 YZF-R6 was one of the first motorcycles to adopt advanced electronics, including the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) and Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I). Maintaining that trend, the new 2017 model is gifted a raft of rider aids and electronic gizmos to enhance the riding experience – and trackday bragging rights.

The most welcome of all is probably the Traction Control System (TCS) that features 6-level intervention, as well as an ‘off’ setting to allow riders to fly unaided if they choose to. The TCS's intelligent software is designed to ensure that there is no unnatural feeling when it intervenes, and the system also compensates for rear tyre wear to give consistent performance over the life of the tyre.

The YZF-R6 also comes equipped with a new quickshifter for seamless upshifts, but sadly doesn’t boast the increasingly common addition of an autoblipper.

It's not just about electronics though. The new Six also gets some decent boosts to its mechanical hardware. At the sharp end there’s a nice KYB inverted fork lifted straight from the YZF-R1, with 43mm diameter tubes – compared to 41mm on the previous model – to give a more planted feel, particularly during braking and high-speed cornering. The fork offers a full range of adjustability that allows the rider to dial in their personal suspension preferences, as does the newly-designed adjustable KYB rear shock.

Still up at the sharp end, the new YZF-R6 also gets the YZF-R1’s radial braking system, comprising dual 320mm discs and aluminium 4-pot opposed piston (unbranded) radial calipers.

At the other end, there’s an all-new rider seat and rear subframe that allows the rider to shift their body weight quickly and easily. Manufactured from strong and light CF die-cast magnesium, the subframe is 20mm narrower at the front than the old model, allowing the rider to tuck in more closely to the tank for improved aerodynamics, and making it even easier to get both feet to the floor. The seat is actually the same height as the current model (850mm), but has a gentler upwards angle towards the rear to give increased freedom of movement.

Another significant change for 2017 is the fitment of a newly designed fuel tank that offers a number of advantages over the previous model's design. Manufactured from aluminium, this lightweight streamlined tank features deep knee recesses that enable the rider to grip the bike firmly when pushing hard. Yamaha have used a special Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) welding technology in order to create the new tank's sculpted shape, and the construction features a combination of tightly sealed robotic welds completed by skilled welders to give a handcrafted finish.

And being aluminium it helps with mass centralisation, and to offset some of the weight that had to be added for systems such as ABS, traction control and the quickshifter. It weighs 1.2 kg less that the steel equivalent, and overall the new R6 weighs in at 190kg fully wet.

While the overall effect is a tangible – and long overdue – improvement over the old R6, there are a few areas that maybe warranted more attention. The most glaring is the exhaust, which looks as out of place as a Tudor cannon strapped to the side of a fighter jet. Surely Yamaha could have managed something a little more befitting the M1 styling? In side profile it looks like an aftermarket Nexxus silencer stolen from a 1990s CBR1000F.

From the rider’s eye view, there’s also a new instrument cluster that features an analogue style tachometer and digital speedometer with a multi function display that includes TCS and ABS status. While it’s well laid out and pleasant enough, it, again, feels like a bit of an afterthought, and looks immediately dated by comparison with the YZF-R1’s TFT dash.

The final grumble, while personal preference, is that almost horizontal R6 decal and line that bisects the fairing of the Race Blu model – immediately killing the shape, aggression and flair of the otherwise sinuous and purposeful fairing design. It’s not there on the black version, and it looks all the much cleaner for its omission.

Gripe aside though, if you love the M1, R1, have a soft spot for Yamaha’s R-series bikes, or simple yearn after a new supersport bike for 2017, this is surely going to be the one to choose. The new R6 will arrive on our shores for April 2017, and pricing will be announced nearer that time. 

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Key Features

Next generation R-series design
YZF-R1 inspired face
Best ever YZF-R6 aerodynamics
6-level TCS to suit changing riding conditions
Quickshifter for faster full throttle clutchless upshifts
43mm YZF-R1 type fork with YZF-R6 specific settings
320mm diameter YZF-R1 type front brakes with radial 4-pot calipers
Slimline magnesium rear sub frame
New angled seat
Lightweight aluminium fuel tank
Enhanced riding position
Euro4 compliant

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Technical Highlights

599cc, 67mm x 42.5mm, liquid-cooled, 4-valve, DOHC, 4-stroke, 4-cylinder
Forged aluminum pistons, 13.1:1 compression ratio
Titanium intake/exhaust valves
Air Induction System and Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I)
Twin-injector Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T)
Slipper clutch
Close-ratio 6-speed transmission
Magnesium head and case covers
EXUP valves contributing to excellent torque characteristics
Titanium exhaust silencer
Aluminum frame and swingarm
Colours: Race Blu or Tech Black
Available: April 2017


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Richard Newland

By Richard Newland