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2017 Yamaha R6 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia

The Yamaha R6 is unmistakably shaped after its tough big brother - the R1

Yamaha’s supersport champion had its last major upgrade way back in 2008 – a new frame was added to an already advanced ride-by-wire controlled engine package which contained titanium valves and a trick racing slipper clutch. This base bike has dominated racetracks around the world, winning the World Supersport title three times since then. The R6 has also had great success on home soil, culminating in many championships. In fact it’s the current ASBK Supersport champion, having won with Troy Guenther on board.

But winning championships alone doesn’t sell bikes like it used to, and Yamaha felt that the time was right to give the R6 a major revision. It’s still an R6 through and through though, with that 2008 frame and engine package remaining the backbone of the new bike.

The design team have focused on ergonomics, visual impact and increased rider safety. And looking at the latest spec you have to say they are onto a winner, improving on all three fronts.

The R6 is unmistakably shaped after its tough big brother, the R1, injecting the bike with new excitement. Its sculptured air intake looks like it came straight off the GP circuit and gets my heart fluttering every time I look at it. The new design is also very functional with an eight per cent improvement in aerodynamics and offering more protection to the rider at the same time.

On the safety front an MT10-styled ABS system has been fitted for the first time, offering an extra layer of control to the rider especially when things get slippery. The system is top quality and works without intrusion when riding day to day.

For the first time the ride-by-wire system has been used to its full potential with the new R6 having three different throttle maps for varying conditions. There’s a soft, standard and hard-hitting map to suit different rider moods or conditions. On top of the rider modes, traction control has been added for the first time, with six different settings and the ability to turn it off. There is a great spread of intervention available from virtually no impact all the way up to heavily restricted – ideal for the rain.

The fanciest gizmo fitted though has to be the Yamaha QSS (quick shift system), which allows upshifts without the use of the clutch. It’s certainly a gratifying feeling snicking through the gears at 100 per cent throttle.

We rode the new bikes at Sydney Motorsport Park for half a day and managed to put them through their paces. Although similar to the ’08 model in so many respects, there is enough change to give the ’17 model its own personality. It feels roomier and easier to flick around than the old bike, and thanks also to a better suspension package, it has slotted right up near the front of the pack once again.

At $17,499 (+ ORC) it has gone up in price, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Watch out for the full test coming soon in AMCN.

By Steve Martin