The R6 is still an important model for Yamaha. With other manufacturers one by one departing the supersport 600 market, Yamaha remain faithful to class and not only still produce the model, but have developed a new one for 2017. But for less than half of the price of a R6, you can land yourself one from their back catalogue. The 2006 version is not just one of the best R6s, but also up there as the best sports 600 ever. It ran for two years and was that cool that those in the know simply refer to them by the model’s factory designation, ‘The 2CO’. When it was launched it was the pinnacle of 600 developments, so let’s look at the evidence to see what all the fuss was about?
Of all of its vital statistics, it’s the bhp figure that stands out. The 599cc four cylinder engine pumps out a claimed 131bhp, a decade earlier this was litre bike territory. Yamaha didn’t just rely on shock and awe, but they also pioneered the latest technology, mostly plucked direct from their MotoGP experiences.
The fly by wire (YCC-T) throttle was the biggest gimmick that the model came with. The design team had also paid special attention on the chassis. The fact that the headstock, swinging arm pivot and rear wheel axle ran in a perfect line, hadn’t happened by accident. The 2006 R6 was one of the first road bikes to benefit from the flurry of R&D carried out for the new, four-stroke, MotoGP class. This was the result of race track technology reaching the showroom floor on a street bike.
The biggest headlines were saved for the controversial 17,500rpm rev limit. The high revs were achieved by using lightweight titanium valves that were allowed to bounce harder thanks to chrome nitrided valve springs, all very impressive and it definitely got tongues wagging. This was soon debunked as bikes made it onto dynos outside of Yamaha HQ. The company was forced to admit that the R6’s tacho was around 9%, or 1000rpm, too optimistic. The American subsidiary even offered to buy machines back from anyone who felt misled by false advertising, though not too many took the offer up. The truth is that the R6 still revved like a banshee and went around corners with scalpel precision. The looks of the bike are stunning too and was easily one of the best looking Japanese sports bikes of this millennium.
What’s it like to ride?
It will come as no shock that the 2CO R6 likes a good hiding and that controversial redline gives you a massive clue to where the bulk of that 131bhp hangs out. This is a committed sports bike and buying one to use it to potter around on would be a foolish choice. Course you can ride it in town but this MotoGP inspired 600 is much happier stretching its legs. It’s also worth pointing out, in case you haven’t sussed it already, this bike is very much a sports bike, built for one and not very friendly for pillions. Yamaha was quite clear in its intention to win supersport races with the R6 and had no problems achieving that objective. Find some long quiet lanes and pull the pin, then you’ll realise how much fun this bike can be. The Deltabox frame keeps the package together. The front discs are 310mm items bolted to 41mm inverted forks and it’s all hauled up by impressive four pot calipers. When you consider tip top examples of this model can be purchased for less than £5,000, it is well worth considering if you want an extreme sports 600 that really does stand the test of time.
What to look for?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, Peterborough, to see what advice he could give us? “There are not too many 10 year old used motorcycles that make over book money, though the 2CO R6 is one of these rarities within the trade. It’s pretty easy to see why! Its beauty is more than skin deep. Standard bikes are getting harder to find and quality extras (or those that add to great looks) are acceptable. Things like huggers, tail tidies and aftermarket suspension components like quality shocks and steering dampers. Standard silencers are often refitted when the bike is being offered for a trade in. Crash damage is the big issue, any poorly fitting body work masks misery usually. Of all the colour options the red and white bikes sell that bit easier, and can even fetch a few pounds more. “
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson. Chris runs a bike breaker yard and services all manner of motorcycles at the Grumpy 1260 HQ. “Being a model that was only produced for a short while, finding used parts is a problem, especially body work. On the bright side, many of these bikes went on the track, something that they still get converted for today. This is a good way to find decent genuine body work. We have heard of some racers and track day addicts having issues with stretched valves. Serious track day folk will spend lots of money on getting their engine race tuned, which obviously will shorten its life span. It’s when these bikes end up back on the road that unsuspecting buyers can get caught out. The subframe is a bolt off item, this often gets buckled in a crash, but is easy to replace.“