Yamaha is one of the very few manufacturers to offer a model in the supersports 600 class with EU-4 specification which is required from 2017 onwards. Why, and what is changed on this new model?
“The dilemma in today’s supersport 600 class”, mentions Oliver Grill from Product Planning, “is that technology-wise it is top level, like the 1000 class, which makes the bikes expensive. At the same time the market size has become pretty small. Bringing out a new model in those conditions is a big challenge. Luckily we have had a leading position with the R6 over the last decade. This gave us the possibility to invest, while the others pulled out. It’s like survival of the fittest!”
“Racing is deep in Yamaha’s DNA” mentions his collegue Naoki Koike. “We have a strong focus on global racing activities and we will continue to serve our loyal supersports community with good models.”
What were the starting points for the model development? Oliver explains four points:
“First of all, we wanted to stay in the 600 class race regulation. So we did not want to go for higher cc like a 650 or so. Secondly, with 600 cc, our engine is already at a top performance level, so our focus, apart from the required EU-4 countermeasures, was on the electronic support systems to exploit it better: a quickshifter and traction control.”
He continues: “A third important item for a race bike is aerodynamics. We applied the lessons learned from MotoGP racing and the latest R1 and adapted it to the R6. It has become the most aerodynamic Yamaha motorcycle ever! It has about 8% less drag than the previous R6 and 5% less drag than the R1. This has both an effect on the speed of the bike as well as on the rider who is more protected.”
Last but not least the chassis showed possibilities for improvement. “The chassis was already on a very high level, there were no problems to solve but we adopted the latest developments that were done for R1, like the KYB suspensions and the new brakes. The front fork is now a 43 mm KYB ‘big piston’ fork with a large front axle. The rear shock is a new lightweight unit. Preload is now continually adjustable and of course compression and rebound damping are adjustable as well.”
Naoki joins in: “From the R1 came also the manufacturing technology that enables us to mass-produce something as exclusive as an aluminium fuel tank for a reasonable cost. This tank is 1.2 kg lighter than a comparable steel tank. Still it is partially hand-welded, beautifully made.”
Also the magnesium rear frame is pretty special. For 2017 it has a sculpted shape instead of the straight rails of the previous model, for an enhanced riding position.
Weight savings like this help to compensate for added features like EU-4 items, the ABS and the quickshifter. Overall the bike is still ultra-light and weighs only 1 kg more than the previous model!
The most noticeable electronic feature is the 6-level traction control system. “It is a well tested system, we have a lot of knowledge how to set it up. It is developed for track use, to help free the rider’s mind and being able to concentrate more on the riding line instead of rear wheel control. With different levels you can learn to approach the area where it starts to intervene, step by step. So it helps you develop as a rider.”
Lively and high-revving 4-cylinder engine.
Pressurized air intake system with air inlets straight through the frame.
YCC-I switches from long to short intake funnels depending on engine rpm, for optimum performance.
Titanium valves, very light-weight to allow high rpm ranges.
YCC-T for a very precise throttle control.
D-mode system with 3 power modes to choose from.
Traction control system with 6 levels (plus OFF).
Quickshifter for fast upshifts without having to close the throttle or engage the clutch.
Slipper clutch to help stability at corner entry when downshifting.
Full aluminium Deltabox chassis and swingarm is light and strong.
Short wheelbase: 1375 mm for excellent handling.
Lightweight magnesium rear frame.
Aluminium fuel tank is light-weight as well.
320mm front discs with radial 4-pot monobloc calipers and radial brake pump for precise and powerful braking.
ABS comes standard.
Wet weight only 190 kg including full fuel tank and oil!
Beautiful, MotoGP-inspired design.
Great aerodynamic efficiency.
Cross-layered fairing construction ensures excellent airflow to cool the engine with minimal drag.
Full LED ‘hidden’ front lights, plus LED guide lights emphasizing the ‘eyes’ of the bike.
Mirrors and flashers are relatively easy to remove for track use.
Improved riding position to allow quick movements and weight shifts on the bike.