There is a general consensus among riders whose years in the saddle rival the number of states in the union. Starting small and working up is the tried and true method for learning the ropes on two wheels. Just as in sports, learning the fundamentals builds the foundation on which all other skills are formed. Motorcycling is no different.
But when you look at what's currently available for the beginning rider the options don't look so appealing. Small displacement motorcycles (except for the Kawasaki Ninja 250) look dated, bland and—dare I say—pathetic. So what, then, makes for the perfect bike for a beginner? From a technical standpoint, the machine needs to have a low seat height, manageable power and be lightweight and maneuverable. Any manufacturer can build a bike that satisfies those demands, but there's so much more to this decision than a spec sheet. And this was the challenge Yamaha faced with the FZ6R.
Better Late Than Never
In doing its market research, Yamaha learned that it's losing a large percentage of new riders because there wasn't anything in its lineup that appealed to them other than the supersports like the R6 and R1. Both of which are anything but beginner friendly. Not only in performance, but also in price. And no, I didn't forget about the original FZ6 but let's face it, that bike won't be winning beauty pageants any time soon. And when it comes to new bike purchases, especially for beginners, style counts.
In order to meet the desired...
In order to meet the desired pricepoint, the non-adjustable Soqi fork and twin-piston Akebono pin-slide calipers are used instead of more exotic fare. Given their low-tech nature, each performs admirably, with the fork a bit on the soft side.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that potential new or first-time buyers weren't interested in naked motorcycles. With that in mind, what came next was relatively simple: Create a fully faired version of the FZ6 that the masses could afford. And here it is. Actually that's a bit misleading; the FZ6R doesn't share many common parts with its partially naked sibling other than the engine—and even that's slightly tweaked. In the interest of value, the FZ6R's frame and swingarm is comprised entirely of steel with the engine solidly-mounted as a stressed member. Suspension and brake components are also rather standard fare; a conventional, non-adjustable 41mm Soqi fork lies out front while a preload adjustable Soqi shock rests out back. Dual twin-piston, pin-slide calipers bite on 298mm disks up front and a single-piston caliper is mated to a single 245mm disk in the rear. Definitely not supersport technology, but that's not the point.
The point is to create a motorcycle that's easy to ride above all else. One major turnoff for new rider confidence is not being able to touch the ground. This is addressed by way of an adjustable seat height and handlebar controls—a first in its class. At its lowest setting the seat is a mere 30.9 inches above the ground, allowing even the shortest of riders to plant a foot firmly on the ground at a stop. For the taller folks the seat can also be raised 20mm simply by readjusting the stops underneath the seat. The handlebars, too, can be moved 20mm forward of the stock location (which is already 12mm lower and rearward than the standard FZ6) to accommodate a wide variety of body types. It's a simple process, and all tools necessary to make the changes are included in the toolkit.