The yellow, black and white 2016 Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary is screaming bonkers through useless earplugs and uses just two ratios throughout the tight track while the Bridgestones go through their warm-up cycle. We’re at Wakefield Park in NSW for some track testing, and it’s all about the times.
The 2016 Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary pulls out of any turn from 6.000 RPM with a responsiveness unimaginable a few years ago from a Supersport 600. After two laps she is edging closer to 10.000 RPM on exit in second gear, spinning up to redline with perfect throttle connection. The front-straight first-turn kink is pegged at maximum revs in third and 16.500 RPM sounds like deafening howl of four tornados in one. The livery, harking back to 70s American GP title winner Kenny Roberts, grabs people’s attention as we flash past the pits, and the game of hard accelerating and aggressive braking continues for the rest of the brilliantly sunny day.
A few hours later on the ‘legal’ road the Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary begs you to remain in touch with your racing persona. But now it’s only the digital numbers on the speedo that are important, so forget the 270º analog arc that sweeps from idle to 16.000 plus.
In this setting the bike is a different beast and can suddenly feel underwhelming. At a restless speed, pegged at 110km/h, the 2016 YZF-R6 is more than 4.500 RPM shy of its peak torque – a modest 67 N.m at 10.500 RPM. But don’t worry about that; not all titles are won by torque. The R6 is about finding the right gear and the revs to extract every last bit of the competitive juice from the 97 kW available. Still, there is plenty of drive and even better noise via the airbox if you are a gear or two out from the ideal. And commuting never looked this good.
As you can see, the New Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary has a complex dual personality – from the serious lunacy of the track where you can revel in the cyclonic noise, to the restrictions of the street where you’ll hear mechanical whirls and whines reminiscent of a V8 Supercar transmission. Below 7.000 RPM there is a feeling of being trapped, but that’s the price you pay for the maniacal zing to redline. Gears go from sharp and slick to deliberate and a bit notchy. But the perfect pinpoint steering and bump control remain. It is even comfortable.
Better yet is the stability. Nothing will faze the YZF-R6 on a bumpy road. I was born mid last century, so the handlebar is excruciatingly low for me, but if you’re a nineties child you won’t complain. Braking? You’ll want for nothing except maybe ABS, but even then the brakes are as good as you will need once the front stoppers have decent heat in them.
Yamaha has left the Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary well alone for the past few years, maybe for good reason. It is a steppingstone model from the sporty LAMS brigade to the full-featured R1. From the R3 at $6299 to the $23,999 R1, the R6 sits neatly at $16,799 (plus ORC) offering scintillating performance without the technology – bar a slipper clutch and an immobiliser. Even then, you won’t miss a thing.
The Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary can be a step into competitive racing – just fit pipe and glass. From there it’s just another achievable leap to the intimidating, but seductive, 1000cc Superbike category. Is a 600cc supersport model still relevant? You betcha, as relevant as any motorcycle that puts thrills and looks alongside quality and performance.
Just make sure you get your mobile number sign-written on the white panels on both sides of the fairings. If you are as good as the 2016 Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary is capable, you might just get that factory call!
2016 Yamaha YZF-R6 SP 60th Anniversary Specifications
Engine : 4-Stroke, Inline-4, DOHC 16-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 67 x 42.5 mm
Capacity : 599 cc
Compression Ratio : 13.1 : 1
Induction : EFI
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain-Drive
Power : 91 kW @ 14.500 RPM (claimed)
Torque : 67.7 N.m @ 10.500 RPM (claimed)
Dimensions : 2.040 x 705 x 1.095 mm
Wheelbase : 1.375 mm
Seat Height : 850 mm
Ground Clearance : 130 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 17 litres
Weight : 189 kg (wet, claimed)
Frame : Alumunium Deltabox
Front Suspension : 41mm Upside-Down Fork, 115mm Travel
Rear Suspension : Monoshock, Preload/Compression Adjustable, 120mm Travel
Front Brakes : Twin Floating 310mm Discs, with 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes : 220mm Discs, with 2-piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 120/70 – ZR17 M/C (58W) Bridgestone BT016
Rear Tyre : 180/55 – ZR17 M/C (73W) Bridgestone BT016