It makes sense that Yamaha would be readying a new version of the venerable R6 supersport for us…finally. The current iteration has been essentially the same bike that originally debuted in 2008, though it saw mild updates in 2010 that sacrificed top-end for midrange power.
The Japanese OEMs are slowly getting back to their old selves though, when it comes to product design and new model debuts, and last year saw the Yamaha YZF-R1 get a major overhaul. It’s time for its 600cc sibling to do that same.
And, that seems to be the case, as rumors out of Japan and Europe are swirling about an all-new Yamaha YZF-R6 debuting later this year, as a 2017 model year machine.
The bulk of the rumors come from Japanese magazine Young Machine, which is famous for the new model concept renders that it publishes, but not so famous for their accuracy.
A&R has heard plenty of chatter about this bike outside of other reports though, so where there’s smoke…
For Young Machine’s efforts, the new R6 looks a lot like the current R1, which isn’t a bad theory since brands like to make sure there are familial design cues between related models. The render above looks a little too incestuous for us, but we do expect some elements from the YZF-R1 to make it onto the YZF-R6.
We do expect electronics to be a big part of Yamaha’s offering, even as they are becoming more restricted in supersport racing. Yamaha has made a great investment in the R1 having rider aids, and those investments only start to make sense if they trickle into other machines.
The supersport segment has been ripe for the general adoption of traction control, and we would be surprised if other “second-generation” electronic systems weren’t put in place as well – like launch control, wheelie control, and engine braking modulation.
It will be interesting to see if Yamaha goes the extra step, and adds an IMU to the Yamaha YZF-R6’s electronics package, which give the 600cc sport bike the same power-sliding control abilities found on the YZF-R1.
Looking at the landscape for the rest of the supersport market, Yamaha has a strong opportunity to disrupt the space. The MV Agusta remains the most advanced machine in the 600cc class, though the company’s financial troubles certainly aren’t helping sales.
Similar issues prevail with Ducati, as the Italian company’s “supersport” is now almost a liter-bike. The Triumph Daytona 675 is showing its age, and to say the same about the other Japanese OEMs would be an understatement.
We know that Suzuki is bringing its new GSX-R1000 out later this fall, with the 600cc and 750cc models like to come the following year. Honda too will debut a new liter bike later this year, and we can only imagine what the wait will be like for the CBR600RR.
Only the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R has been updated recently – in 2013 – with Team Green adding traction control to its stead. That makes the ZX-6R the high-water mark for Yamaha to beat, and hopefully like we saw with the R1, the Iwata brand will bring the noise with them.
Render: Young Machine