2017. Not a bad year to be a motorcyclist. You are spoilt for choice whether you want the latest super bike, mile-munching touring machine, scramblers, retro re-makes or super-naked’s. There has never been more choice. That is, unless you fancy a shiny new 600cc Supersport machine. While 200bhp 1000cc + electronically advanced hyper bikes seem to be order of the day for most manufacturers, the smaller capacity siblings are suffering from a drop in consumer demand coupled with an increase in the demands of more efficient and quieter engines from the powers that be. Euro4 rules have sounded the death knell for a number of 600cc machines including the Triumph Daytona 675 and Honda CBR600RR. There simply isn’t the consumer demand in this sector to warrant the R&D costs to cover the changes of revised or new engines. Which is a real shame.
Yamaha however are bucking this trend and the new 2017 R6 promises to be something rather special. Dripping with electronic trickery including 6-level traction control, switchable riding modes, a quickshifter and ABS, the R6 should be a joy to ride and brings unheard of technology to the 600cc class. It has borrowed most of its styling cues from its big brother, the R1, which is no bad thing. The revised front fairing is 8% more aerodynamically efficient than the previous model according to Yamaha – every little helps, right? More important than aerodynamic efficiency though is that it looks fantastic.
Yamaha have done a great job in helping to reinvigorate a shrinking sector. Despite declining demand for 600cc Supersports motorcycles, the new 2017 R6 is expected to sell well, and why wouldn’t it? It has everything people want from a modern supersports bike: A comprehensive electronics package, high-quality parts and awesome looks, all wrapped over a well-proven, strong and screaming 600cc motor which provides all the power you ever really need in a road bike (if we’re honest with ourselves!). It will make for a bike more than capable of showing up some of its 1000cc rivals on the race track.
We hope the new R6 signals the start of the revival of the 600 class, something Yamaha will not be able to do alone. So it will be interesting to see whether other manufacturers are going to try to stop Yamaha having their own way and monopolising the 600cc machine sales. Surely the other big Japanese bike companies aren’t going to sit back and allow that to happen? Until then, here’s to an exciting looking 2017