Rumors are already flying about the 2010 Yamaha R6, which is due for an update this next model year. One of the prominent theories is that that supersport would inherit the cross-plane crankshaft found in the current R1 liter bike. While Yamaha has officially been quiet on this matter, R1 project leader, Toyoshi Nishida, has pretty much ruled out the possibility of that technology trickling down to the 600cc bike. However, it does seem certain that the new R6 will tip the scales at a paltry 385 pounds or less…wet.
The main reason for the cross-plane crank’s absence from the 2010 R6 is simply that it is not necessary on the 600cc platform. When Yamaha introduced the cross-plane crank for the R1, it was to enable the rider to translate more power from the 1000cc motor to the ground, in a useful manner. The biggest challenge in updating current liter bike technology isn’t how to make more power, but instead how to make more power that the rider can use.
We see the same issue arising in MotoGP, where the 990cc motors where absolute monsters, but yet when the 800cc powerplants debuted, they lapped faster than their larger predecessors. This is because the power the 800cc motors made was able to be put to the tarmac, instead of being lost spooling up the rear-wheel.
On a 600cc bike, this is less of an issue, as riders make heavier use of the throttle, and have an easier time hooking up the rear-end of the motorcycle. Nishida did mention however that Yamaha has been working on a new engine technology that doesn’t involve electronics (read: not traction control) that would aid rear traction handling on the 2010 YZF-R6. We have no idea what this could possibly mean, other than leprechauns. More on this as we hear it.