Graves-spec Öhlins internals...
Graves-spec Öhlins internals (different springs/valving than standard Öhlins) reside in the stock Yamaha R6 fork, while Braking wave-type discs and pads handle stopping duties. Dunlop’s latest USA-made D211GP-A tires provide maximum grip.
Even more impressive, though, was how balanced the bike felt in all aspects of cornering. I've ridden many racebikes that, while offering a major advantage in one part of the corner, often gave up something for that edge in another area of handling performance. The Y.E.S. Graves R6 always felt planted, whether charging deep into a corner on the brakes, transitioning toward max lean with tons of corner speed, or accelerating hard off the corner. There was never a point where weight transfer felt as if it was going to overpower the suspension and threaten to upset stability. Even when the hard-compound rear Dunlop D211GP-A tire started to wear a bit toward the end of the day and spin up off the corners (the new track surface at NOLA is very abrasive on tires), the slides were never abrupt, and the bike always felt nice and balanced. When I commented on this, Guglielmetti then showed me the DCP software, which surely plays a major role in the Y.E.S. Graves R6's excellent handling.
Also impressive was the action of the STM slipper clutch and engine braking program built into the Marelli SRT ECU. I preferred the lighter of the two settings (more slip, less engine back-torque), and there was never any hint of rear wheel chatter or lockup except when getting a little too hasty with downshifting into first gear. At all other times, you could literally bang downshifts with impunity, and the engine would simply match revs to road speed as soon as you got back on the throttle, allowing super-deep corner entries without drama.
A good thing that the slipper clutch worked so well, as stopping power from the Braking discs and pads puts the stock components to shame. Response, feel, and modulation were all excellent, letting you ramp up to the limit of tire adhesion at will.
The Total Package
The phrase "makes you feel like a hero" is starting to become an overused cliché, but that description fits Cameron Beaubier's Y.E.S. Graves R6 perfectly. You literally feel like you can do no wrong on it, with a supremely balanced combination of agility and power that lets you put it anywhere on the racetrack to get from point A to point B in the quickest time possible. And if you have the financial means and are really serious about your racing, you can have the exact same machine for a base package price of $25,070 (with various options such as the chassis kit and Marelli ECU bumping the sticker up to just shy of $40,000).
If you think that's a lot of dosh to be doling out for a 600, you'd be right. But the fact that nearly all the Yamaha R6s you see dicing in the lead group of an AMA Daytona SportBike race are prepped and supported by Graves Motorsports should tell you something.
The Y.E.S. Graves R6 always felt planted, whether charging deep into a corner on the brakes, transitioning toward max lean with tons of corner speed, or accelerating hard off the corner
Roseville, California's Cameron Beaubier has a wealth of experience for only 19 years of age, even though he started riding motorcycles at age four. He followed in his father's motocross footsteps until he was 12 years old, switching to supermoto at the behest of his father after the elder Beaubier decided that he didn't want his son exposed to the same injuries he suffered in racing. "I kinda clicked with the pavement, and ever since then I've loved it," recalls the younger Beaubier, leading to a stint with the renowned Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2007. The Californian showed his potential by winning the German round, and eventually finishing the seven-race series in sixth place.
The following year Beaubier competed in the highly competitive Spanish CEV GP125 national championship as part of his enrollment in the Red Bull MotoGP Academy. Although an injury forced him to miss several races, he showed enough promise to be given the opportunity to race in the 125cc World Championship in 2009 with the Red Bull KTM team. Living in Europe and traveling the world while racing at GP-caliber racetracks was "an awesome experience. I struggled a little bit; I was only 16, living on my own in Europe without my family, racing against the best 125 riders in the world. But I learned a lot that year."
Beaubier returned to the States in 2010, contesting the AMA Supersport championship with the Rockwell Yamaha team, where he won one race and finished the season in fourth spot. In 2011, Beaubier moved up to the Daytona SportBike class with a low budget effort, eventually getting support from the Riders Discount/Jake Holden Racing Yamaha team, and caught the eye of Yamaha Racing brass with six top five finishes in 13 starts, eventually finishing the season in sixth spot.
Beaubier's hard-charging finish to the 2012 season brings high hopes for the future. "I'm looking forward to 2013, getting some good training in and some good results," he enthused as he gears up for another season in Daytona SportBike with the Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha team (although we learned at press time that his kneecap was damaged again in a crash at the New Jersey AMA round, requiring more rehab during the winter). Y.E.S. Graves team owner Chuck Graves sees great things in Beaubier's future: "Cameron's one of those kids that comes along once in a great while with a ton of talent and potential. We've got high hopes for him."