The concept of Yamaha's Fazer bikes is brilliant really. Take the engine and running-gear from the full-on sports-bikes, de-tune the motor for more friendly every-day street riding, and wrap it all in a package that, again, makes it practical as an every-day street bike. The popularity of the FZ1 (based on the R1), proved how good this concept was, and so they applied the same principle to the R6, producing the FZ6. As with the FZ1, the bike is available as a naked, or a semi-faired model. The bike you see here is, obviously, the naked version, designated FZ6N.
I tested the FZ6S in early 2007. That was the semi-faired version. I’d been wanting to re-test it though, because the last time I tested it I was a bit disappointed with it. On the positive side, it was comfortable, easy to ride, handled well, and was surprisingly tractable at low revs. But to me, it felt lacking in power, and I also thought it was under-geared. And that wasn’t just in comparison to the bigger bikes I happened to be testing at the time. No, it just felt, well, not powerful! And in top gear it was geared lower than my old XJ600, and felt quite busy at highway speeds. That was the '06/07 model. During 2007 it was up-dated, as I noted at the bottom of the test-report; so I wanted to give the new one a run to see how it compared. I wanted another go at it to see if it was just that bike that felt unimpressive; and to see if the new model felt any better.
The up-dates, as I mentioned at the bottom of the previous test, were all fairly minor; and all the specifications remain the same. However there were some changes to the fuel-injection system, so maybe it would feel better?
This time, as you can see in the photo above, it was the naked version that I got to ride. That made it interesting too, to see how the naked compared to the semi-faired version.
One of the most obvious changes was to that ridiculous combined speedo/tacho unit. Now, as I mentioned, the instruments are conventional analogue tacho with the digital speedo beside it. And the tacho doesn’t cram all the numbers into about half it’s circumference as did the old one. Now 8 is at the top of the dial, rather than 12 and 13. Yes, as I said, much better! (Sorry about the poor photo, but it's enough to show you how it's changed!).
The good riding position is the same as before, although the comfort level didn’t seem quite up to the previous one. The seat felt not quite as soft as I remember. And the ride seemed harder than before too. The bike was very new (it only had 150km up when I started my ride), so it would probably loosen up a bit with a few more miles under it. (At least that’s what the salesman said, and he’s probably right; up to a point anyway). Still, the bumps were felt a bit more than I’d like. The suspension isn’t adjustable either; beyond the usual pre-load on the rear, so there’s not a lot you can do about it.
When I rode the previous model I said that right from when I pulled out of the driveway it sounded more like a 250 than a 600. This one was better. It was still quiet, but you could believe there was a 600cc motor making the noise. And it also felt more lively. The power, as I mentioned before, mainly resides high in the rev-range; but this time it felt better down low, and also felt more eager to rev out. Yamaha don’t give power figures for the FZ6, but they don’t claim the new model as being any more powerful than the previous model. In the previous report I said I’d seen figures of 57Kw and also 72Kw quoted (a bit of a difference!). I guessed at probably the former, but I’ve read estimates that put it somewhere around the 70Kw mark. It still doesn’t feel that powerful to me, but maybe if you got it up to those stratospheric revs that it’s capable of then maybe it would produce that sort of power.
With the previous one, when I did rev it out it just felt buzzy and harsh, and had me thinking, “Well, what’s the point?” This one was smoother when it revved. I still only had it up to about 10,000 (red-line is 14,000!), but it was certainly going quicker than I recall the last one doing, and felt happier being there too.
On the subject of high revs, the gearing hasn’t changed, running at just under 20kph per 1,000rpm in top. I was constantly trying to find another gear above top! Cruising at 110kph the engine was doing around 6,000rpm. I sat it on this for a while and I have to say that you do get used to the high revs, maybe because this one didn’t feel as buzzy as the last one I rode. I should also point out that this seems to be about the norm for a mid-sized four cylinder these days. It still wasn’t what I’d describe as a relaxed cruise though. It’d be something you’d have to get used to; but this time I think you could get used to it. (If it was mine, I’d change the gearing and gear it up; but others might be quite happy with it as it is).
At low revs it was just as tractable as the old one. Open the throttle at low revs and it pulls away smoothly without even a hint of snatching or shaking. I tried opening it up from 2,000rpm in top and it still pulled away smoothly. It was pretty sluggish, as you’d expect, but it was smooth. And once the revs built up a bit, those numbers on the digital speedo started ticking over pretty quickly. I just can’t believe how Yamaha can take a sports-bike engine and make it so brilliantly flexible and tractable at low revs! (The FZ1 has a wonderful engine in this regard!).
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the ease of riding, and the pin-point accurate handling. I said in the last test that tyres probably helped, being 120/17 front and 180/17 at the rear; the sort of thing you’d expect on much bigger bikes. But that could, potentially, cause problems. Putting overly-large tyres on a small bike could make it not want to turn-in quickly; but the handling is light and easy everywhere, from city U-turns to open-road sweepers. By the way, weight, at 186kg, remains as the previous model too.
The brakes are decent-spec things, and they felt fine. I didn’t try any emergency stops, but they did get one chance to show their power. I was cruising along a country back-road with bush either side, sitting on around 100kph – 110kph. Suddenly I spotted a kangaroo standing beside the road. I squeezed the brakes and they effortlessly slowed me down to a safe crawl, while skippy turned his nose up and hopped back into the bush.
Being a naked, of course there was more wind at speed, but it wasn’t too bad. I’d prefer the semi-faired version for open-road work, but this wasn’t too bad.
Back at the dealer I had a look around the bike, and something that stood out was the practicality of it. Things seemed easy to get at. The rear suspension is easily adjusted from under the seat, and the rear brake master-cylinder was easily accessible on the rear of the frame. (Come on now, how many of you don’t check the back reservoir as regularly as you do the front, because it’s harder to get at? Yep, me too, I’m ashamed to say!).
So, what did I think of it this time? Well I liked it. It’s a good bike! I still think it’s under-geared, and this time I found the ride a bit harsh, but it’s still a good bike. My preference would be for the “S” version though. Not only do you lose the funny-looking droopy headlight, but you get a sporty-looking fairing with, of course, the greater wind-protection. And you also get a centre-stand. At just $500 more than the naked version I reckon it’d be a no-brainer; unless you really like naked bikes. 

Ridden 2008

UP-DATE 2010.
No changes are listed for the FZ6. There were details differences between the first one I tested and this one - mainly in the instruments binnacle, which was much needed. But from 2008 on it hasn't changed. There is a new model though - a LAMS version has become available.
It's a better bike than my original test indicated. There I was disappointed with the performance - although this one seemed better. You've just got to get into the riding style of revving it.

UPDATE: 2013.
There have been a few changes to the FZ6 range. The main thing is that they have gone all learner-legal on us. That’s a pity really, because the FZ6 was a good bike; especially for those who enjoyed riding enthusiastically. Now it’s a sports-bike for the learner brigade. The engine, they say is, “tuned to deliver responsive low to mid-range torque for fun, easy riding.” One report I saw stated that the 2013 model had more power, but I couldn’t find any mention of this on the Yamaha web-site. Specifications on engine power aren’t given, so it’s difficult to establish just how much the engine has changed.
It’s now available only in a fully-faired version called the FZ6R. So no naked version now.
There are other minor detail changes here and there too, but the rest of the bike seems largely unchanged.
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