In such a rapidly evolving industry, manufacturers do even the impossible to keep up the pace with competitors or to become benchmark themselves. But, especially in the super sport category, that often implies changing a model even though the market hasn’t had enough of it. That is exactly what happened with the Yamaha R6, but this manufacturer made sure that it offers complete satisfaction for its customers and so the YZF-R6S appeared.
As the whole point is to have a “previous generation model” in their lineup, Yamaha keeps the YZF-R6S virtually unchanged for 2009. Satisfying the same commuting purposes every day of the week and being capable of making a damn good impression on the track on weekends, this bike begs us to unveil some of its most, indeed unchanged, but unique features.
Behind that powerful accelerating feel is the 600cc liquid-cooled, DOHC 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine. Devel oping 123 horsepower, the motor is compact and uses one-piece cylinder and crankcase assembly for superior engine rigidity and light weight. Also, the cylinder bores are made out of ceramic-composite. This reduces friction, improves power at high rpm levels and convinces us that this bike hasn’t lost the magic touch of the original R6.
Further proving that is the Deltabox frame, 43mm fork and controlled-fill swingarm. Also, with five-spoke 17-inch wheels and performance braking systems on them, there’s no wonder the YZF-R6S keeps on going forever and ever.
1999 is the year when Yamaha decided to powerfully counteract Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki in the 600cc class as an expected effect of previous year’s launch, the one of the mighty R1. Introducing the all-new (for the time) YZF-R6!
At its base was the FZR600 engine, a 599cc carbureted, liquid-cooled inline-four which after carrying on the R6 was developing 120 horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 68 Nm at 11,500 rpm. The Deltabox frame also carried on and it was a big hit, just like all through the ‘90s. Color scheme was Blue and White.
Two years after the bike’s launch, nothing more but a refreshed racing look was new on this sports bike.
In 2003, Yamaha brought major technical upgrades to the already highly-evolved engine, the most important being the fuel-injection system. Now the bike could really make a point in the highly-disputed class. Color combination was Red and Black.
Colors continued to add up for the fuel-injected R6 (Gray, Black) which by this time developed 123 hp at 13,000 and 68.5 Nm at 12,000 rpm.
2005 is a very important year in this discussion, not only because the horsepower increases and the bike getting new forks, but because this is the base of the “S” model which was to be launched in 2007. Why didn’t Yamaha carried on producing the bike as it was? Because of the same reasons I mentioned when starting writing this article.
In 2006, the all-new R6 rushed on the scene in the colors of the first R1 and its first major revision came in 2008.
Because Yamaha provides the YZF-R6 as an alternative for those fierce competitors such as the Honda CBR600RR, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Kawasaki ZX-6R, there is no room for the R6S to make a point here, so we’ll have to comply with the 2008 Kawasaki ZZR600.
A middleweight bike, this Kawi is indeed a suitable opponent as it features a 599cc liquid-cooled inline-four engine. The only disadvantage is that being fed through a Mikuni BDSR 36R, the ZZR isn’t as potent as the R6S, but indeed the most appropriate thing you’ll find to it.
Also, the riding position on the Kawasaki is not as sporty as on the Yamaha, and that doesn’t affect the handling performance as you would normally tend to believe. So if you’re searching for a docile middleweight, this should be it, with the condition of not getting bored of it too fast.
The whole purpose of the R6S is to not be caught by the radical evolution round and remain the apparently simply designed middleweight motorcycle with many secrets underneath that clean looking fairing. As you can see, the bike is a reminder of the 2005 R6 only that brought up to date with a comfortable cockpit, redesigned fairing and five-spoke rims.
Fuel tank is narrow for better ergonomics and more control, but not the kind you would encounter on THE 2009 Yamaha YZF-R6. Testimony of the fact that the years haven’t left a deep finger print on it is the four-into-one exhaust exiting on the right side of the rider. You rarely see that these days and it can also be found on the Kawasaki ZZR600.
Brand new on the 2009 model year is the Raven paint and gold rims. Although Yamaha retains the characteristic Blue and White coloring for this model, it brings a fresh feel that surely won’t be passed unnoticed by the public.
Yamaha sells the 2009 R6S as a do-it-all sportbike and that’s also what we have to show that the bike is or isn’t. So it would have to commute and always have a reserve dose of adrenaline close by, the riding position should not be fatiguing and yet the thing must handle as good as it looks. You guessed it, versatility is the answer and after spending a full week on it and covering approximately 400 miles, our report is anything, but disappointing.
For starters, the liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder; DOHC, 16 valves middleweight engine feels free both revving quietly around town or putting all of its 123 horses to work. The fuel injection system has much to do with that so although the bike is just a new interpretation of an older R6 model, it doesn’t mean that modern goodies aren’t present on it. Fuel injection would be the first.
As a commuter, the R6S feels extremely easy to ride and maneuver especially if you have been putting some track days on it. But, at a 410 lb wet weight and 32.3 inches high seat, I also dare to say that it can also be the choice of beginning riders who don’t feel like changing bike after bike concomitant with them gaining experience. Still, mature thinking is required because playing with the throttle can always bring trouble to such riders.
It wouldn’t bother if those who plan on riding the Yamaha R6S are accustomed with sportbike-like riding position because this bike makes no concession there. Considering the riding positions of the R1 and R6, the one on the “S” tends to seem more natural, but still not as comfy as on the ZZR600 or old CBR600F models. Riders will only begin to appreciate the “sitting on the hands” position once they start carving corners, hopefully not while they ride to work.
All aggressive riding throbs should be kept for the track and that is also where the Yamaha R6S feels most at home. The thing accelerates strongly, the six-speed gearbox backs the engine up very well and the chassis gives an authentic feel of what forces MotoGP pilots experience during races. No wonder as we’re dealing with a Delta box III frame, 43mm fork and controlled-fill swingarm. Front and rear suspensions are fully adjustable and that also increases fun on the track and comfort on the streets.
The bike brakes very sweet before sharp corners mostly because of the 298mm front brake discs, four-piston calipers and radial master cylinder. At the rear there is a 220mm disc with a single-piston caliper. Great stopping power is always a good thing to have and lap after lap, the R6 character will unveil more and more for each happy possessor.
Like on most superbike models, wind protection is excellent and the rider has just enough room to fit its head under the windscreen.
But after spending some serious quality weekend time on the track and often burning more than a tank of gas (4.5 gallons), it is pretty difficult to go back on the road and have the same attitude towards the bike after being introduced to its full capabilities. In other words, you’ll be revving the hell out of it and don’t even think about the 42 mpg claimed by Yamaha. Or maybe that’s just an excuse for not thinking at fuel consumption when riding the 2009 Yamaha R6S.
And the best of it is the $8,690 MSRP required for the Raven painted one or $8,790 for the Team Yamaha Blue/White color scheme. Is that good or what? Considering that the cheap version of the “evolved” R6 costs $9,990 and the Kawasaki ZZR600 (still a 2008 model year), $7,299, I believe we’re in for a winner.
Being yet another interpretation of one of the most successful 600cc super sport Japanese bikes out there, the R6S doesn’t bring something radical on the scene, but will never be passed unnoticed, no matter what. We are still waiting for the day when the R6 does another great evolutionary step and the R6S would be a mitigated version of it.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder; DOHC, 16 valves
Bore x Stroke: 65.5mm x 44.5mm
Compression Ratio: 12.4:1
Carburetion: Fuel Injection
Ignition: Digital DC-CDI
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Chassis and Dimensions
Final Drive: Chain
Suspension/Front: 43mm fork; fully adjustable, 4.7-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock; fully adjustable, 4.7-in travel
Brakes/Front: Dual 298mm floating disc, 4-piston calipers
Brakes/Rear: 220mm disc; single-piston caliper
Length: 79.7 in
Width: 27.1 in
Height: 42.9 in
Seat Height: 32.3 in
Wheelbase: 54.3 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.0°
Trail: 3.4 in
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal
Fuel Economy: 42 mpg
Wet Weight: 410 lb