Riding Impression: 2009 Yamaha FZ6R

Meet the Everyday Sportbike.

Photography by Brian J. Nelson & Tom Riles

2009 Yamaha FZ6R - Riding Impression

2009 Yamaha FZ6R - Riding Impression

It was not that long ago that Yamaha abandoned street practicality for outright racetrack performance. Over the years, as the rev ceiling climbed—in a never-ending quest for top-end power—the YZF-R6's real-world performance suffered. Don't get us wrong, we think Yamaha's middleweight missile is one of the most potent ever made for the track and serious backroad blasting—but it leaves us wanting more when it comes to everyday livability. Yamaha has addressed this gap in its lineup for 2009.

After spending a day riding the new FZ6R near Santa Rosa in Northern California, I came away impressed. Despite a bargain-basement price, the $6990 middleweight's updated and retuned engine offers the rider a more useable rev-range for sporty street riding than the R6. Crisp fuel-injection is provided by four-hole injectors, while lightweight forged aluminum pistons contribute to a smooth, virtually vibration-free nature. Updates to the cylinder head and a new exhaust system—which features a midships silencer—are focused on midrange grunt.

My left boot was far less busy than on many supersports. Most winding roads between Santa Rosa and the Pacific Coast Highway required only one or two gears to generate a quick, fun pace. But there is more to making this bike a great all-arounder than the engine. Yamaha engineers (wisely) spec'd the steel-framed chassis not only to tackle the twisties but to be comfortable on the weekday commute as well. A narrowish 160/60 rear tire allows the bike to flick from side-to-side quickly, aided by handlebar placement that is not only very comfortable, but that provides excellent leverage for getting the bike snapped into the apex, even with geometry numbers that lean toward stability.

Brake performance is good considering the front calipers are only two-piston, pin-slide units, providing nice feel and modulation on the wet roads we experienced the morning of our ride. Lever reach is adjustable, which is something you don't find on too many bikes in this price range. Suspension front and rear was plush, especially combined with the well-shaped seat. The shock has provisions for preload adjustment but that's all you get.

Other features not commonly found on sub-$7K motorcycles are the FZ6R's adjustable seat, which can be raised almost an inch for taller riders, and the triple-clamps that allow the tubular handlebar to be moved .8-inch forward from the stock position to create a bit more room. Offered in four color choices, black, white, yellow and, of course, Yama-blue, the FZ6R is a great bike at a great price with up-to-date styling and an engine that should trounce most anything else in its price range.

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

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2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R

2009 Yamaha FZ6R