Review: 2013 Yamaha FZ6R
Yamaha’s demo day started out quite disappointing for me. I really wanted to try the FZ8 or its faired twin, the Fazer 8, but neither of these bikes were offered. Maybe that’s because they’re both being discontinued in 2014, replaced with the much-anticipated cross plane triple cylinder FZ09.
There wasn’t much in the rest of the line-up that interested me, aside from the Super Tenere. Not being able to touch the ground with anything more than the top of my right big toe, I didn’t really feel comfortable taking it for a ride. Then I thought of the FZ6R, Yamaha’s 600cc, four-cylinder, entry-level sportbike.
I really feel that Yamaha is missing out on the small sportbike market in North America. Both Honda and Kawasaki offer 250cc sportbikes, which are a great choice for a person who either is not comfortable starting off on a larger bike, or simply wants a nimble, fuel efficient ride. Guess what Yamaha? When a rider is ready to move up from their 250, they’re likely to stick with the same brand, as long as their previous bike proved to be fun and reliable. But I digress.
The FZ6R has been on the market since 2009, taking the place of the half-faired FZ6. By the way, for those uninitiated to Yamaha motorcycles, “FZ” denotes a more comfortable riding position and more power in the low-mid range of the RPMs. Bikes labelled “YZF” are more performance-oriented, with a more extreme riding position and more top-end power…actually it’s more like crazy top-end power. Now you know.
The full fairing on the FZ6R gives the bike a very sporty façade, but it’s much more comfortable than it looks. The handlebars (not clip-ons!) are high and the footpegs are lower and further forward than most sportbikes, giving the bike a very comfortable seating position. The seat is narrow, allowing most people to reach the ground confidently. These factors combine to create a bike that feels very manageable when you swing your leg over it.
I love the exhaust on the FZ6R, most modern sportbikes have exhausts that are just plain UGLY. I guess manufacturers had to cut costs, and figure that the muffler is the first part lopped off and replaced when someone buys a bike, so they don’t want to spend the money to make it look nice. The FZ6R’s muffler is tucked up under the bike, with the pipe barely protruding past the rider’s right foot. It looks awesome. Too bad it doesn’t sound better though. I find the 4-into-1 exhaust note quite uninspiring, but maybe it’s just that I’m beginning to go deaf from riding loud motorcycles.
The demo ride left the dealership in Kenmount Business Park, went out Pitts Memorial as far as the Manuals access, turned right at the bridge and came back to town the “Old Way”. Unfortunately, the traffic was a bit heavy so I didn’t get to experience a quarter of what this bike has to offer. For a small-ish bike, it felt sturdy enough on the highway, but if I was planning a long tour I’d have to invest in a bigger windshield, and a Canadian Tire gel seat would be a must. The bike has enough power to be fun for an intermediate or even experienced rider, but it’s presented in an unintimidating way. The power delivery is completely linear through the rev range, so a newbie rider won’t be surprised by the bike rocketing when the RMP’s climb.
The word “sensible” is an odd way to describe a motorcycle, but that’s what the FZ6R is. Ample power, great handling, lots of fun around town and a blast to ride on twisty roads on a Saturday morning. AND it’s comfortable. Step away from that R6 in the showroom, 19-year old boy-racer. Get the FZ6r instead and use the $4000 you saved to buy some decent gear so I don’t see you riding in a t-shirt and no gloves.
Yamaha has taken strides to make the FZ6R appealing for first-time bike buyers, while still offering power and performance for the more experienced riders. If you have the confidence to take on a 470lb, 600 cc for your first bike, you won’t regret buying this one. In fact, it just may be the only bike you’ll ever need. If you’re ready to move from a 125 or 250, the fz6r is a great choice as well. Even if you’re a cruiser rider who wants something with a bit of performance to add to your collection, this bike will do the trick without making your back, knees and wrists ache after each ride.