After dealing with the new truck and damn near quitting my job, it's time for (albeit, silghtly "delayed") another installment of "Red Elk's Review of the sportbikes at the 2003 Cycle World Motorcycle Show in Dallas.
YAMAHA'S LIMITED, YET IMPRESSIVE STABLE
All I got to say about Yamaha's limited sportbike line up is when you got it right on the bikes that both sell and have a future, why bother with anything else?
At one time, they promised their YZF-R7 would hit the showroom. This was assuming, of course, that the limited offering of the $30,000+ track only version was going to dominate in both the pro and club circuits. Like the appearance of the street version, the dominating wins never materialized. The death of the 750 class is nothing but a blessing for these guys and they have started to follow Honda's lead on supporting a 750 class bike... why bother?
YAMAHA YZF-R1 MSRP: TBA
At a whopping 12 pounds heavier then the GSXR 1000 (382 vs. 370), you'd never know it by sitting on this baby. The location of the pegs and bars in relation to it's 32.3" high seat is damn near close to perfection. With the exception of the YZF-R6 and another bike yet to be anounced, this has to be one of the most confidence inspiring arrangement that does nothing but make me feel like I could go substantially faster in the twisties. Compared to my current experiences with my '00 ZX-12R, that is.
It's still the last of the true sportbikes that does not have a full ram air intake system. When the '02 model came out with it's cold air intakes located under the front sides of it's gas tank, I said that it was a "stop gap" move and that there would be an ram air induction system on the R1 the following year.
I just figured that the cold air intakes were going to be the opening where the new ram air tubes would connect. They might move the connect opening a slight bit further forward for clearence or flow reasons. It just seemed to be the logical next step. I was wrong.
I now know that "logical" is a word that might not necessarily apply to Yamaha's engineering, because the '03 R1 still does not have ram air. Another example of this would be the R1's fuel injection system.
When Yamaha finally decided to change from carburetors to FI, they had obviously been paying attention to Suzuki's FI teething problems. To help address the abrupt throttle response of the GSXRs, Suzuki chose to add a secondary butterfly (SDTV - Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve System).
Yamaha figured that they would go in a completely different direction. Yamaha incorporated what they felt were the best aspects of their carburetors and married it to their new FI system. They call it a "suction-piston fuel injection" design.
Instead of dealing with the disruptive aspects that a secondary butterfly might cause to the incoming air flow, the decided to keep the vacuum actuated slide of the carburetor as part of the intake system. Some (including myself) thought that this too, was some form of "stop gap" measure, as well. I was wrong again. They actually got it to work and work well.
All the same, excluding some cosmetics and maybe the new casting of the Deltabox III frame (which I think it already had last year), it appears there's very little difference between the '03 R1 and last year's model. For me, this was to be expected since I always felt that Yamaha is usually known for extensive tweaking on a particular model from year to year, rather then completely redesigning it.
At least one would think. Read on...
YAMAHA YZF-R6 MSRP: TBA
I was wrong again! The R6 has no intentions of being left behind by it's competitor's new 600 class offerings. To prove it, I'm not sure what part, if any, on this bike was not either left untouched or completely redesigned. IMHO, it was one of the most impressive bike of the entire show.
From the side view, it appears to be very similar to the R1. Maybe a slightly different angle here or there, but still pretty close in appearance. As for how the R6 compares to the R1 when you look at the front or rear... well let's just say that they are different.
Again, I will make one of my predictions and say that in the near future, the R1's (when it gets a ram air system) front end will look very similar to the '03 R6.
They have trimmed anther 8 pounds off the R6 this year and it now tips the scales at a mere 357 pounds. That's two pounds heavier then the ZX-6R and 6RR, 2 pounds lighter then Suzuki's GSXR 600 and a whopping 13 pounds lighter then Honda's new CBR600RR and F4i!
Yamaha left no stone unturned when looking for ways to improve the R6. The frame is a new Deltabox III design that is made by what they call a "Controlled Filling Die Casting technique" (CF casting). It supposedly made the frame lighter yet 50% stiffer. The same method was used to make the relocated swingarm and removable rear subframe.
Not only is the R6 one of the lightest 600s out there, it also has the shortest wheelbase and steeper rake and trail numbers then any other bike in it's class. It's also the only 600 that comes with a 120/60 front tire.
Other improvements include a new curved radiator that increases it's cooling capibilities by 30%, five-spoke 17" wheels that have been caste in a new weight reducing method (read: reduce unsprung weight), new dual Gatling beam multi-reflector headlight and dual-bulb LED taillight design.
As for the R6's engine, over 90% of it's parts have been changed or redesigned. The FI system has been changed to the same "suction-piston fuel injection system" as the R1 (another indicator that the R1 will be getting ram air). The R6 also gets new direct ignition coils, a higher output magneto and a new 4-2-1 exhaust that's a combination of titanium and aluminum.
After sitting on this fly weight, 15,500 RPM redline rocket bike, this one could be the sleeper that will create some serious havoc for all the other "new and improved" 600s out there. The R6 ranked second place of the entire show on the "Elk's Twisty Riding Butt-O-Meter" (again, the #1 bike has not been mentioned yet).
What else can you say about one of the lightest, most free revving, shortest wheelbase and tightest (and probably twitchiest) handling 600 bike out there, but... WOW!