From the beginning we knew Yamaha’s revised 2008 YZF-R6 had a fight on its hands if it wanted to wrestle the top spot away from the Honda CBR600RR, Cycle World’s Best Middleweight of 2007.
In this corner, in blue trunks, is the $9599, 402-pound, 107.7-hp, 159-mph Yamaha. In the red corner, at $9599, 384 pounds, 104.7 hp and 156 mph, is the Honda. They’re equal in the price fight, with a few horses advantage going to the Yama-bomber, but Honda has a slight edge in power-to-weight ratio, thanks to its 18-pound lighter weight. All attributes add up pretty evenly, but what balanced out best? Our story “Supersport Standoff” in the March issue of CW aims to find out.
Associate Editor Blake Conner and I agreed that the Yamaha’s slick slipper clutch (which subdued any unwanted wheel hop while braking hard and downshifting during aggressive corner entries) and well-tuned 41mm SOQI fork (with high- and low-speed damping) gave its rider an advantage. The Honda had a lighter, slightly less-planted feeling from its front Pirelli Diablo Corsa but as soon as the throttle opened, the torque advantage of Honda’s motor negated the Yamaha’s increased entrance speed. Both bikes performed extremely well at the Streets of Willow and we had tons of fun trying to squeeze all the potential out of them.
From there, we moved on to the city streets. From the first green-light launch to the last—whether it be from the traffic light or the dragstrip Christmas tree—the winner started to separate itself. Both of these 600s had to be wrung out and feathered to get them away from the line briskly. However, the ease with which the Honda delivered clutch consistency put it farther ahead then the 41/100-second difference in the two machines’ quarter-mile times suggests.