Yamaha FZ6R Review
Words: Brad Puetz
Action Photos: Temo Garcia
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
Photos and Text Courtesy
Used with permission.
Motorcycle Reviews Directory
If only I had a dollar for every time a prospective
new rider walked up and asked me what is the best
beginner bike on the market, I would have enough to buy
Mat Mladin's racebike at the end of the season.
one of the most common questions I am asked when out
riding on the street or by people at the race track. Everyone has different concerns when deciding what bike
to purchase . . . Is a 600 too small for me? . . . Will
I outgrow it? . . I'm a heavy rider, should I get a
1000? . . . Should I get a cruiser or a sportbike? . .
Are sportbikes uncomfortable?
The list goes on.
Of course every rider is different and has special needs
in a motorcycle so the answers are not always simple. With this in mind, I set out to ride like a complete
novice for the next two weeks to see if the 2009 Yamaha
FZ6R is truly a great fit for the beginner.
Riding gear? Who needs it . . put on a skid lid, some
shorts and flip flops and hit the road then. Paddle my
feet about 50 feet to get the bike rolling while kicking
at the neighbors dog, dump the clutch to get a bit of a
wheelie while nearly hitting the nearest parked car and
I'm off to split lanes in moving traffic.
What's that I
see? A motorist about to make a left turn up ahead? Surely they see me, I'll just keep focusing ahead then,
besides if the car decides to turn into my lane I will
just stomp my dangling sandal on that there rear brake
and stop this bad boy on a dime.
Come to think of it,
riding like a novice might not be the best idea, I think
I will put on some proper riding gear and do this the
right way; after all, the FZ6R is not just a motorcycle
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At the wBW
The Yamaha FZ6R - First Impressions
When picking up a motorcycle made by the
Yamaha Motor Corp. you can always be sure of one thing
-- you will not be
forced to cruise the streets on an ugly duckling for the
next two weeks.
The styling will always be appealing and
you will not be left saying . . "Oh I can't believe they
sent me off with a bike in this color!".
Yamaha did not disappoint and the Team Yamaha Blue/White
FZ6R I was taking command of had sharp lines and
aggressive curves to match the racy paint work -- a quite
stylish package for a bike at this price point.
But would the all-new FZ6R with it full fairing be
all show and no go? Well not exactly -- but I did feel the
styling somewhat outweighed the performance in the
engine department at least.
The FZ6R motor gets its DNA
from an earlier generation R6. It shares bore and stroke
dimensions and compression ratio with the standard FZ6
but the cylinder head, crankcase, intake and exhaust
system, clutch and shifter have been completely
Lightweight forged aluminum pistons are used in the
creating a very smooth motor. And a 32-bit ECU controls
the four-hole, two-direction, high-dynamic-range type
The fuel injected, 600cc liquid-cooled
4-stroke engine engine seems to have quite a mild state
of tune. The fuel injection is crisp and the FZ6R picks
up the revs cleanly and quickly from the bottom, but
there is a noticeable lack of kick from the Yamaha power
It will make a fine motor for commuting and
zinging through town but it is not the most inspiring
600cc motor on the market, even when compared to its
bargain priced competition. However, I had been
riding a nearly 200HP V-Max for the previous two weeks,
I might need to cut the FZ6R motor some slack.
What the FZ6R motor lacks in beastly character it
more than makes up for in the handling department.
Yamaha frame is made from high-tensile steel-tube and
uses the engine as a stressed member for increased
rigidity. The forks are non-adjustable 41mm Soqi units
and the rear features a Soqi monoshock unit with preload
While these previous specs might not make
your hair stand up, the simple combination of parts
actually works well. The Yamaha feels thin, has a low
seat height and its 470 pound wet weight is extremely
While having sharp steering and easy-to-maneuver in
town around tight corners, the FZ6R was also at home
holding its line in faster sweepers and had no problem
while adjusting that line at speed. There was a slightly
springy feel in town but as speeds increased the
suspension seemed to be well suited and overall I felt
very confident in the way the FZ6R handled.
Yamaha FZ6R Specs
The FZ6R rolls on 120/70R 17-inch front and a 160/16R
17-inch rear tires. Traction was never a problem and the
narrower rear tire profile likely helped with the sharp,
Seating position on the FZ6R is comfortable and
roomy and allows the rider to move around and get
aggressive when the road calls for it. The seat has
separate front and rear sections, and the rider’s seat
features a height adjustment mechanism; it can be
set 3/4 of an inch higher for taller riders. Heavier
riders may want to opt for a firmer seat however, as the
padding felt a tad soft even for my spindly figure.
are looking to do multiple hours on the open road the
FZ6R should be perfectly comfortable for most riders.
The handlebars and footpegs stretch you out enough to
keep you from locking up at the appendages. The footpegs
were a bit on the buzzy side but everything felt nice
and smooth at the handlebars; much appreciated by my
The 6-speed transmission on the FZ6R never gave me a
very positive feeling. While not actually causing me to
miss a shift, it always seemed like it was difficult to feel
the positive engagement when going into each gear.
some bikes you can feel 100% when the bike goes and
locks into gear . . .this transmission felt slightly
looser, like it was almost floating between gears. It
would also actually grind somewhat on engagement. This
was more of a feeling than anything, as I never had the
bike jump out of gear, but it always had me being extra
careful to make sure I was engaging each gear.
Brakes, Clutch and Instruments
The FZ6R uses twin piston Akebono brake calipers with
dual 298mm front rotors and a 245mm disc in the rear. The feel is quite good at the lever but stopping power
is about average. While you will not be mistaking these
for race quality brakes, overall performance front and
rear is more than enough to get things slowed down when
Clutch feel and engagement was excellent on the FZ6R
with an extremely light lever pull; something you will
surely be grateful for when negotiating rush hour
The gauge cluster on the new Yamaha was a good
looking piece, providing just the right amount of
information to the rider. Digital speedometer, analog
tachometer, odometer/tripmeter, fuel gauge, water
coolant gauge and clock have you feeling like you're in
the cockpit with Tom Cruise ready to go Mach 2 with your
hair on fire.
So to answer the question that inevitably comes while
riding the FZ6R . . . is this a good entry level bike?
The answer is easy: the Yamaha is indeed a great bike
for the beginner due to its excellent handling in and
around town and it's a breeze to ride with its
relatively tame but electric-feeling motor.
Yamaha also offers more than just beginner level appeal.
If you are a rider who doesn't need a spec sheet raving
about MotoGP led development but are searching for a
motorcycle that won't break the bank while still
offering style and performance, the new FZ6R may be just
what you're looking for.
FZ6R - Specifications
Type: 600cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, DOHC
BorexStroke: 65.5mm x 44.5mm
Compression Ratio: 12.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
||Ignition: Digital TCI
Transmission: 6-speed; multi-plate wet
||Final Drive: Chain
||Front Suspension: Telescopic fork,
Rear Suspension: Single shock, 5.1-in
Front Brake: Hydraulic disc, 298mm
||Rear Brake: Hydraulic disc, 245mm
||Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17M/C 58W
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17M/C 69W
Length: 83.5 in
Width: 30.3 in
Height: 46.7 in
Seat Height: 30.9 in
Wheelbase: 56.7 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.0°
Trail: 4.1 in
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gal
Fuel Economy: 43 mpg
||Wet Weight: 467 lb (CA: 470)
Team Yamaha Blue/White, Cadmium Yellow,
Pearl White: $7,090
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From "S.P.B." (5/10): "I am pleased
to say that I am the proud owner of a FZ6R. This
surprises me, as I was not in the market for a 600cc
bike and being an even prouder owner of a 1984 FJ1100, I
did not think that anything in the 600cc class could
come close in handling or sheer power.
The FJ1100 is an amazing bike even for today and there
have been many an R1 rider who when deciding to show off
have been suppressed/shocked that they could not shake
off a 30 year old bike and to only get taken at the
first corner, roundabout or chicane. Don’t get me
wrong -- the FZ6R does not have the same power but I was
surprised at how similar the handling is.
So after test driving one trying to kill 2 hours of
waiting, I just had to have one, thanks to the FZ6R I
feel that I can do my licence legally (ride the FZ6R
until I get the blacks then switch back to the FJ1100 or
by an XJR1300 if I can afford it, but what a beautiful
bike worth every penny) without falling asleep behind
the handlebars or passing out from sheer embarrassment
and having a prang in the process.
I have read your review of the Yamaha FZ6R (and) I
thought it was accurate a pretty fair and well written
however there are a couple of points I would like to
1) Transmission felt slightly looser – My FZ6R feels
very solid and has a very solid thud when changing gear
that left no question of a doubt and I would compare it
to having a similar solid feel on the FJ1100. I
can’t help but feel that there may have been issues with
the setup or gearbox of the model you test drove or
perhaps Yamaha have changed the settings since you test
drove to resolve this. However my FZ6R is a very
solid feeling when changing up or down gears one of my
deciding factors when purchasing
2) Relatively tame but electric-feeling motor – Yes very
true, however when unrestricting is capable of
delivering more power than any other 600cc bike in its
class with more options.
It is by far one of the most cheapest bikes to
unrestrict. Surprised that your magazine and every
other journalist who has reviewed the bike seems to have
missed, this was my biggest deciding factor on
purchasing this bike and the dealer has checked with
Yamaha Australia and Canada to confirm the processes and
they are as listed (Editor's Note: There are no
restricted motorcycles in the U.S.A., so we could not
report on this):
a. Unrestrict to XJ6N Engine Specs – New cable bracket
(Throttle movement has been restricted) and cables and
throttle replaced from XJ6N parts. Note that
Yamaha have advised me that paperwork will have to
filled out along with information on Drivers Licence to
order the $30.00 part and will not be shipped for three
days until Drivers Licence and paperwork have been
(At least I know Yamaha care about it’s customers and
can only lead to the value of having one of these
unrestricted). The engine management chip will
also have to be remapped but this can be done by just
about any Yamaha dealer total cost expected to be
$499.00 and 2hrs of my life (Outside of the 3 day wait
b. Unrestrict to R6 version FZ6R (aka Deceptor I think –
R6 Engine specification as released in Europe, Australia
is the only country that is getting this bike as a LAMS
version. Note I may have the nickname wrong but it
began with a D) Same as above however with the addition
of the cam is changed to the same cam used in an R6
total cost is unknown at this stage as I am the first
person to enquire about unrestricting in this country.
Initially when approached Yamaha Australia did not want
to unrestricted the bike, however when the dealer
pointed out that there was no legal requirement for them
to when I get by blacks and that they could have legal
issues in refusing to do so when the part is available
in Europe and Canada and could be legally obtained from
Europe or Canada.
(It probably helped that I kept copies of the web page
that stated it could be unrestricted – I note that it
seems to have been removed completely now from the site)
however Yamaha has come to the party now and are
prepared to unrestrict and then came back saying I could
I am pretty sure that Yamaha Australia were probably in
the process of setting up the avenues of and just did
not have the information at hand at the time.
My brother has a Suzuki SV600 LAMS another good bike but
the cost to unrestrict at a Suzuki dealer is $2,000 for
a new engine management unit otherwise $999.00 through
the Internet from a Melbourne company.
Also SV600 have the added advantage at this stage of
being able to be fitted with Inertia active suspension
dampeners, you may want to know that currently the only
Yamaha model that they currently manufacture the
components for is the VMax I am still waiting for them
to bring out components for FJ1100 and FZ6R could be
waiting a while)."
Editor's Note: The comments above
were submitted by an owner living in Australia.
The FZ6R we reviewed was sold in the U.S.A. There
are no restricted motorcycles sold in the U.S.A.
From "D.L." (3/10): "I have a hard
time recommending any bike with full plastic fairings
and turn signals that stick out on top of those to a
beginner. I always tell new riders to get something with
no body work.
They are going to drop the bike at some point,
guaranteed. It might be while riding or maybe on a
slippery gas station driveway or maybe just backing the
bike out of the garage while not yet comfortable with
the weight and balance. You drop a bike like this
Yamaha and you either have a costly repair on your hands
or you've lost a lot of resale value if you don't fix
Either way you've taken a big hit on your "move up"
funds when you feel you want/need a bigger, faster bike.
The only plus I see to the FZ6R is the lack of an
exhaust can sticking out the side, so they won't be
tempted to spend needless money on a "slip on" pipe and
there's less chance of damaging it when they have the
From "M.I." (2/10): "I started my
journey on two wheeled powered vehicles three years ago
at the ripe age of sixty-one years old. My first
scooter was a Honda Ruckus which I rode for 1,000 miles
before trading up to an Aprilia Atlantic 200 scooter.
Three thousand miles later I moved up to a Suzuki AN400
Maxi Scooter which I rode for 8,000 miles commuting to
work and leisure, which I still own today.
Two years after my first scooter I obtained my
motorcycle endorsement. I purchased a great
beginner motorcycle, a Kymco Venox 250, on which I
taught myself to ride a clutch motorcycle. I have
ridden it 2,700 miles but alas winter has set in here in
BTW, the Venox unlike most beginner bikes has double the
horsepower of the Honda Rebel and other learning
motorcycles. I like the way the large wheels of a
sport touring motorcycle add stability to riding unlike
that of a 13 inch wheeled scooter, yet I have no problem
with low speed handling with the larger bike.
A big plus would be the Yamaha FZ6R Fuel Injection
rather than carbs that are found on the slightly smaller
500cc bikes. Now I keep asking myself if a
motorcycle such as the Yamaha FZ6R is a good choice for
a beginner's motorcycle (am I really a beginner?) or are
the tried and true Suzuki and Kawasaki 500cc a better
choice for me."
From "S.S." (2/10): "I'm a moderator
Motorcycle Forum, where we get a lot of questions
about beginner bikes. After giving advice on this
issue so often, I've developed almost a stock response
to questions about which bikes are good for beginners.
This usually includes a warning against bikes with
inline-four cylinder engines, such as most Japanese
sportbikes (which prospective riders are always drooling
over), so being unfamiliar with the FZ6R, I was almost
shocked to see it- a four cylinder, 600cc sportbike-
billed as a beginner bike.
After reading your review and researching the stats, I
was surprised and impressed to find that the FZ6R really
does seem suitable for some beginners, being comparable
in power and ergonomics to the 650cc parallel twins like
the Ninja 650.
I personally would still recommend something along
the lines of a Ninja 250 or 500 for most beginners
interested in sportbikes, but for people with previous
experience (like riding dirtbikes) or who at least have
completed a motorcycle safety course, I'll add the FZ6R
to "the list" of bikes I recommend for beginners."
Editor's Reply: Thanks for the
feedback, I guess this is why I called the FZ6R "The
'secret' best beginner's bike?" on the home page link!
I believe Kawasaki and Yamaha and I think Suzuki and
Honda also used to take their 2-3 year old, previous
generation sport bikes and detune them for more relaxed
riding and beginner use. I haven't kept up with it
in a while but the FZ6R fits that mold.
Some beginning riders may like the FZ6R because it
looks like the "real thing" but it has much easier, laid
By the way, when people ask me about beginner bikes,
I usually tell them to find a used BMW R65, which has
about 40 hp but is a very fun bike with a lot of history
that is very easy to work on, with parts still available
and a huge support base of "Airheads".
The R65 has great turning radius (generous steering
lock) and is overall pretty hard to get into trouble
with. It also has a large friction zone in the
clutch. And it can even be used for touring.
The best thing is, once they want to move up -- if
they do -- they can sell the R65 for what they bought it
for. I have one (here)
and it's a real pleasure to ride, I always enjoy it,
even though I also currently own two Ducatis!
From "D.S." (2/10): "Maybe but there
are much better first bikes. The Ninja 250 is a
great first bike. Even an experienced rider can
have fun on it. It is light, will cruise on the
highway easily and is pretty comfortable.
If the 250 is a little too small jump up to the Ninja
500 or the Suzuki GS500. If you are getting back
in the sport then the SV650 and ER6 are good choices.
If you like standards the
TU250X (info) looks like a lot of fun. I can
not wait till they are available used. I think it
would make a great little Cafe bike :) I am pretty sure
all of them are cheaper than the FZ6R and I feel all are
better suited to being a first bike.
For Cruisers you have the Rebel, Virago250, and the
S40. If you like dirt roads pick up one of the 250
Frankly I think the FZ6R is a good re-entry bike and
is the type of bike that most street riders should be
riding instead of the repli-racers."