2017 Yamaha R6 First Ride Review

I headed to Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, Calif., to ride Yamaha’s latest iteration of its 600cc supersport motorcycle—the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6. The day was a mix of sunshine and rain—perfect conditions to test the new R6’s capabilities, highlighted by its new electronic suite that includes two new features for the fourth generation of the YZF-R6: switchable traction control and ABS.

Ahead of our full review, here are the essential Fast Facts from our first ride at Thunderhill.

  1. The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 retains the engine from the previous model, which is a great thing. This engine hauls and, typical of a supersport, was happiest at higher revs at Thunderhill. The engine pulls strongly from around 9000 rpm to the 16,500-rpm redline.
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride | 11 Fast Facts
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride
  1. The Traction Control worked flawlessly. The six-level system relies on Yamaha’s revised ride-by-wire system, and was completely transparent throughout the day in both dry and wet conditions. On Level 6 in the pouring rain while running Bridgestone Racing Battlax WO1 rain tires at top pace, the intervention was barely noticeable, and I only saw the TC light flash once on level one at pace in the dry. All settings, including off, are switchable while riding with an easy to use button on the left control.
  1. The R6’s revised KYB suspension provides much more stability, especially under braking and hard cornering. The 43mm fork (the previous generation had a 41mm fork) is the same used on the YZF-R1, though tuned for the smaller bike, and provides feeling like no other R6. Otherwise, the chassis specs are exactly the same as the previous generation.
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride | 11 Fast Facts
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride
  1. Braking was never issue at Thunderhill—the new 320mm discs squeezed by Advics calipers providing gobs of stopping power. The discs grew 10mm from the previous generation, and ABS is now standard. The ABS is not switchable, but displayed no issues on the track. Intervention is noticeable while replicating hard emergency braking, but not to the point of feeling out of control.
  1. Ergonomics are improved thanks to a new seat design. The seat gets a bit higher near the tank, and is 20mm slimmer up front. This allowed for easier transitioning across the seat during difficult challenges such as Thunderhill’s corkscrew.
  1. The revised gauge layout is much easier to read than the previous generation. Thankfully, the giant analog tach remains.
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Test
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride on Bridgestone W01 rain tires
  1. The 2017 Yamaha R6 has three power modes that are all useful, though full-power A was used most of the day at Thunderill. B offers super relaxed throttle response and power delivery, and is definitely useful for rain situations. As for the third, Standard, it will be great for urban situations where you don’t need a quick-revving engine.
  1. Weight is up only two pounds over the 2016 due to ABS, but it’s not noticeable. The ABS would have added at least an additional three pounds, but Yamaha offset that weight by using a magnesium subframe and aluminum gas tank. Fuel capacity is unchanged at 4.6 gallons.
  1. Taking some hints from its R1 brethren, the 2017 Yamaha R6 arrives with revised bodywork that not only looks the part, but also is aerodynamically savvy. Yamaha claims an eight percent increase in aerodynamics, but it feels like much more when riding the bike back-to-back with the 2016 model, especially at full tuck.
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 top speed
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride
  1. The optional quickshifter worked flawlessly throughout the day at Thunderhill. It only allows for clutchless upshifts, and I was craving clutchless downshifts by day’s end.
  1. The third generation impressed, but the fourth generation that starts with the 2017 model impresses even more. The new Yamaha R6 is finally here, and the wait was worth it.

Expect this fourth-generation YZF-R6 to hit showroom floors early to mid April.

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride Color Choices

Photography by Brian J. Nelson

Riding Style:

  • Helmet: Shark Race-R Pro
  • Riding Suit: Alpinestars GP Plus
  • Undersuit: Alpinestars Ride Tech Summer One-Piece
  • Gloves: Alpinestars GP Pro
  • Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Specs

ENGINE

  • Motor: Inline-4
  • Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
  • Displacement: 599cc
  • Compression ratio: 13.1:1
  • Valve train: DOHC; 16 titanium valves
  • Fuel Delivery: EFI
  • Ignition: Transistor Controlled Ignition
  • Transmission: 6-speed w/ multiplate slipper clutch
  • Final drive: O-ring chain

CHASSIS

  • Front suspension: Fully adjustable inverted 43mm KYB fork; 4.7 inches of travel
  • Rear suspension: Fully adjustable, linkage-assisted KYB piggyback shock; 4.7 inches of travel
  • Front tire: 120/70ZR17
  • Rear tire: 180/55ZR17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Advics calipers
  • Rear brakes: 220mm disc w/ Nissin caliper
  • ABS: Standard; non-defeatable

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 54.1 inches
  • Rake: 24.0°
  • Trail: 3.8 inches
  • Seat height 33.5 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal
  • EPS estimated fuel economy: 42 mpg
  • Wet weight: 419 pounds

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Colors:

  • Matte Black
  • Team Yamaha Blue; Intensity
  • White/Matte Silver

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Price:

  • $12,199 MSRP

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 First Ride: Photo Gallery