XJ6 & XJ6 Diversion TestThe Yamaha Diversion XJ6 is like the VMAX, a Ghost from the ’80s brought back to life by Yamaha in 2009. After years of the FZ6 acting as Yamaha’s entry level model into multi-cylinder motorcycles, the Yamaha XJ6 is back in Europe! Its aims are to be easier-to-ride-slow, less power, but with more torque in lower revs and, above all, to be even more affordable.
After Honda proved there is a market for friendly middleweights with the CBF600, Yamaha has decided to do the same in the new Yamaha XJ6 series. The concept is pretty much identical to the original Diversion of the ’80s and ’90s, but in all-new trim. To achieve that, it needed to be less sharp than the R6-derived FZ6. The current FZ6 sports around 100 horsepower and everything from the engine to the chassis can be traced back to the pre-2006 R6 model. The Yamaha XJ6 differs in several key areas, such as the detuned FZ6 600cc in-line four engine, new and simpler chassis, and different ergonomics. It’s all done to make the XJ6 as easy to get along with as possible.And easy it is to ride, indeed. When I first set off, the engine buzzes silently and the Yamaha XJ6 obediently pushes away from the traffic lights in the city center of Sydney. The engine specs are almost identical to Honda’s CBF600, which entails a 78 horsepower engine (@ 10,000) with 44 ft/lbs of torque at a relatively low 8,500 rpm. Although these small 600cc in-line fours like revs by nature, the Yamaha XJ6’s maximum torque figure is reached more than 1,500 rpm earlier than on the more highly strung Yamaha FZ6. This also means that the Yamaha XJ6 is easier to launch, and only a few revs are needed for decisive stop and go city riding. The Yamaha XJ6 also feels more powerful in the lower gears than the Honda. It took me about a minute to get used to the short-rider biased ergonomics and controls, and then all I had to do were to enjoy the view of the beautiful and famous Australian city and surroundings. Everything from the clutch response to the gearbox feels smooth-as-butter to use. Nothing about the Yamaha XJ6 is intimidating in the slightest sense, apart from the aggressive looking headlight. This is essential for someone just getting into bikes or for the more subtle personalities out there.It took a while to get out of Sydney and onto some beautiful roads through the bush where we rode the Pacific Highway back towards Sydney. In the really tight stuff, the suspension and bulk of the 452-pound Yamaha XJ6 isn’t ideal. It jumps a bit up and down on its budget suspension. The steel tubular frame chassis suits this bike perfectly, but is not quite as light as the aluminum box frame on the Yamaha FZ6. You lack some of the fine feedback that expert riders are looking for, but that feedback you can’t really be utilized by a new rider, so why pay extra for it? The one thing worth mentioning about the tires is the fact that also Yamaha have opted for a very agile 160mm rear tire. This rear tyre makes the bike quicker tipping into corners despite the weight and easier to make quick maneuvers in the city.The Yamaha XJ6 Diversion differs from its brother the XJ6 in having a half fairing. That fairing is a well-designed and attractive option for those planning to do more touring than city riding. The only major difference riding the two apart from some extra wind protection is that the mirrors stick farther out. This is good for touring, but I also felt that the mirrors on the naked Yamaha XJ6 were very good. Contributing to that is of course the fact that there’s very little vibration from the quiet engine. There’s some high frequency vibration that can be felt both in the handlebars and foot pegs, but only after riding many miles, and it didn’t bother me much at all.What did start bothering me after a few miles were the thinly padded seat. After far too few miles, my bottom started aching a bit. The low seat height made me feel quite big on the bike and, with footpegs touching the ground fairly early, lowering the pegs isn’t an option. I found myself trying to push my bottom backwards whilst riding to find some more padding towards the pillion seat. I can see a great opportunity opening itself for aftermarket gel seat makers here. The instruments are easy to read and identical on both Yamaha XJ6 models. It shows digital speed on the left console and there’s an analogue rev counter to the right.Yamaha has now filled a gap in its model range, and I think the Yamaha XJ6 and XJ6 Diversion are great value for money. The Diversion is back and it does complement Yamaha’s increasing middleweight range just nicely.Photos by Dentsu