I have some amazing friends. I have friends who will let me ride their bike for a week while mine is still in the shop. I have friends that trust me not to wreck their bike and kill myself on it. That’s how I got to ride a 2005 Yamaha R6 for a few days.
What a mind opening experience.
I’ve only ridden about six different Motorcycles in my eight years of riding. So this bike was a first for me still in a lot of ways. Most significantly, I’ve never ridden a supersport or an inline four, making the R6 very different from the other bikes I’ve had a chance to ride.
My very first impression was how small the bike was, not so much in weight or length, but in riding position. My legs felt more bent, and the handle bars so very low. So low that riding out to the the freeway for the first time was painful. My wrists were dying after the first couple of miles. My other initial impression was how the engine revs, it made a much more buzzing sound and the vibrations at a higher frequency. I ended up shifting a lot earlier than I needed to.
I did my best to put the bike through its paces in the four and a half days that I had it. I took the long way home twice and I think I definitely got a good feel for the bike. My next major impression after I got over the ridding position was how damn fast it is. Initially I thought it was because of the way the engine made its power, but after a couple of days back on my Monster, I realize its because of the fairing. You feel so little wind going fast, you lose all sense of speed except the rate at which you are passing other cars. It feels the same at 60 mph as it does at 100 mph. (I am only guessing, since of course I would never ride that fast on public roads) It doesn’t help that you can do those speeds in first and second gears.
My first thought after riding to work Monday morning was “this kind of bike is why people die on motorcycles” It’s just so fast, and so insanely easy to ride fast.
The second day brought on more aches, my neck, not used to the racer crouch was killing me. I really began to wonder how my friend rides this bike daily, he’s a bit taller than I am so its even harder to hide behind that fairing for him. The other thing I noticed was how much heat the engine dumped on to my legs from out of the fairing. I found this strange since my bike runs much warmer, but with no fairing to direct the heat I don’t feel it unless at a stand still.
The Yamaha R6 a very precise and accurate motorcycle, I felt that I could easily put it where ever I wanted on the road. Easily slicing through traffic no matter what the speed. I rode the long way home on Tuesday, and found turning was quick and easy. The way the R6 makes it’s power is very different from what I’m used to and made riding twisty roads very different. With a 15,500 rev limit you can stay in one gear much longer, but at the same time if those revs drop below around 7,000 you lose most of your power. There were many corners that I would be accelerating out of much slower (well it felt that way with much less torque/thrust) than I do on my Monster. The ground clearance though was a joy. I had a lot of fun leaning into turns knowing that my knee would touch down before I started dragging parts of the bike on the ground. It became quickly very clear that the biggest thing keeping me from going faster was my own skills and the road. The R6 was ready to do what ever I asked of it.
Now that I’m back on my monster, I really only miss two things, the ground clearance and the dash. I loved both a lot. Being able to lean the bike and not worry about dragging things is great. I also love how easy it was to know how fast I was going with the big digital speedo on the R6.
I really can’t thank my friend enough. It was such a fantastic experience, something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m glad we made it through it all unscathed.