The Yamaha YZF R6 was designed to go head-to-head with the Kawasaki ZX-6RR. Released in 1999, the Yamaha raises Kawasaki's ante with higher horsepower and a lower body weight. The most expensive middle-weight bike in its class, it also features an upgraded suspension.
Riders and professional reviewers alike praise the bike for its beauty as well as for its power and performance. A leading cycling publication named the Yamaha YZF R6 1999's "Best Streetbike." Another respected organization called it "Bike of the Year" and awarded it perfect marks in braking, power delivery, suspension, and that hard-to-define "fun to ride" category.
The YZA R6 was updated in 2001, 2003 and 2006. Today it has a sleek, armored feel. The most recent model weighs a low 357 pounds, delivering 138 hp and capable of 16,200 rpm. (Yamaha originally stated the 2006 R6 rpm as 17,500, but this was not borne out in testing. Yamaha responded by offering to buy the bike back from any customer disappointed by the difference in advertised rpm.)
This minor controversy notwithstanding, since its 1999 debut, the Yamaha R6 has been seen, by many, to outdistance its competition (the Suzuki GSX R600 and the Honda CBR 600 RR, among others) by a wide margin. Riders praise the solidly stable chassis and the immediate steering response.