Is a Yamaha R6 a Good Starter Bike? (12 Reasons)

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The R6 is a super-popular Japanese motorcycle that bears all the characteristics of the legendary R-Series. But is a Yamaha R6 a good starter bike?

The R6 is not the best choice for beginner motorcycle riders. With a powerful engine, uncomfortable ergonomics, and a high price, the Yamaha R6 is a high-performance racer bike that can be a lot to handle for most inexperienced riders. For new riders, I recommend the smaller R3 as a safer option.

Having said that, it is not out of the question to use the R6 as a starter bike if you have a mature mindset, excellent balance, good self-control, and defensive driving hammered into you. Whether someone wants to use the R6 as a beginner bike depends on the individual; however, to make that important decision, there are some factors you need to know about the motorcycle.

When I first started to learn how to ride a bike, I was a teenager and considered myself quite mature. Looking back, I would not trust the younger me with a Yamaha R6. Let us take a look at why that is.

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Ergonomics and Comfort

Since the R6 is a racer bike, it sacrifices comfort for sportiness. The short wheelbase ensures that the motorcycle makes tight corners quickly but at the expense of ergonomics. Since the bike is heavy, has high pegs and low handlebars, its weight can take a toll on your wrists. In addition, once the engine heats up, your bottom half will become uncomfortably warm.

The riding position can also be quite uncomfortable. To sit on the bike, you will need to lean forward your upper body, tuck your knees forward and your arms stretched out to grab the handlebar. For extended periods of time, this position can be quite pain-inducing.

In slow traffic, you may also experience back and wrist ache or calf cramps until you build up enough muscle to cope with it. This is one of the major factors that can put off beginner users from riding.

Over time, most users will become comfortable with this type of seating; however, this is hardly the most comfortable of rides.

If comfort is a priority for you (and in my experience, it is,for most beginner riders) then I suggest you look for other motorcycles that have a more upright seating. There are several bikes that come with cutting-edge engine technology and components that used to fall in the domain of sports bikes.

High Seating Position

The Yamaha R6 has the highest seats in the R-series. It sits at 33.5 inches which is the same height as the enormous BMW R 1250 GS super bike.

The seating position has been immaculately engineered for aggressive riding around race tracks by experienced users. In addition, it is easier to lean with your bike when making corners and allows for more ground clearance when your knees are scraping the asphalt.

However, for a beginner rider, a high seat can be your worst enemy. The height does not allow you to place your feet firmly on the ground and since beginner riders still need to build their balance on a motorcycle, it may cause you to topple over. This is a very common occurrence and one you do not wish to experience since it is extremely dangerous.

Unstable at Low Speed

The Yamaha R6 is designed for very high speeds on the race track. In a straight line, the bike can accelerate very fast. But in order to make a fast corner, this superbike has a steep rake and trail (like all sports bikes) and narrow handlebars.

Although this design is perfect for flipping the bike heavily on the side to change direction, it makes it quite unstable and unbalanced at low speeds. As a new rider, you will still be practicing pulling away smoothly and getting used to the bike’s control, so the instability at low speeds will not inspire any sort of confidence in you.

Rev-Happy Bike

The Yamaha R6 is a very tame ride below 7000 rpm. That’s because its sporty engine generates high power at high speed. Just because the engine looks smaller than the R1 doesn’t mean it lacks capacity. The R6 has an astonishing redline of 16,500 rpm and delivers a massive 117 horsepower at 14,500 rpm. This allows it to travel at a speed of over 160 miles an hour.

If you are cruising at a low speed, you may be wondering what the hype is all about. However, once you push the bike to its peak power, it can be a nightmare to handle for novices. With so much high power, it can be quite difficult to adjust and can make for a terrible ride if you use it for your daily commute. Plus, anything near the power peak is illegal for city street use.

Inspires an Urge to Go Faster

If you are a novice rider, it is very important that you exercise caution when riding a bike and start at lower speeds. If you are a young rider in your teens or early twenties, I do not recommend starting on a Yamaha R6 since it can tempt you to ride faster, even if you start with the intention that you will drive carefully until you can learn to ride properly.

On a machine like the Yamaha R6, there is a high chance that you will push it too far in your adrenaline rush and that is where you will make a mistake. I say this now because when I was in my 20s, I didn’t always use my brains either.

Even if you are a responsible and mature person, the temptation to see what the racer bike can do is hard for anyone to resist. And once you hit the revs, things can very quickly go out of your control. All you need to do is to Google and you will find thousands of results of someone getting hurt because they were just testing how fast their motorcycle could go.

Since the Yamaha R6 is a racer bike, it has a very fast acceleration — it can accelerate from 0 mph to 100 mph in just a matter of 6.08 seconds — and things can get out of hand very quickly. Before you know it, you find yourself under a bus or over a cliff edge.

Heavy

Although 419 lbs is not particularly heavy for a 600cc sports bike that has a capacity of 117 horsepower, it is over 50 lbs heavier than the Yamaha R3. These bikes are very balanced when they are upright and you are riding them in a straight line, but if you need to walk them out of a parking lot or reverse them manually, you will feel the weight of these things. In addition, the high seating means you will need to get up on your tiptoes which can make maneuvering them physically quite difficult.

In addition, if the bike is leaning too heavily on you, you may lose your grip on it or it may fall on top of you. Starting with a lighter model is so much easier in a number of ways. Plus, if you drop the bike, it can be easy to pick it up again. Personally, if you want a light bike, I recommend the Honda CRF 250 L, which is about 100 lbs lighter than the Yamaha R6.

Can Cause Bigger Damage

Sports bikes are made of premium material and are wrapped with plastic fairing. If you drop the bike even while it is just standing still, it can crack the fairing and lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. If you think you won’t drop your bike, you need to think again.

Most novice bikers will drop their bikes at some point — when stopping on loose gravel, when cruising at walking pace in a parking lot, or even when pulling away with the bike. As a novice rider, dropping your bike will be a very common occurrence — it happens to everyone.

This is the reason why I recommend you start learning on a less expensive, lighter, and smaller model and sell it once you have learnt riding on it for a year. A dirt bike can be a great choice for you as it is made of hardier stuff and does not become damaged easily.

To learn how not to fall, drive your bike at slower speeds on loose gravel which will teach you how to control it.

Very Expensive

The Yamaha R6 is currently selling at $12,199 which is not at all affordable for novice riders, particularly since you will be dropping the bike a lot at the start of your learning curve. If you want to buy an older model, the 2010 Yamaha R6 can be bought for around $6000, which is still quite a big chunk of money for a lot of new riders. In addition, you will also need to invest into the proper riding gear as well as motorcycle insurance so you will need to budget that as well. According to an analysis by Money Geek, the Yamaha R6 had an average insurance premium of $2,745 per year, which is quite steep.

The reason the Yamaha R6 is pretty expensive on all fronts is because it has an excellent build quality. All the components of the bike are top-range and the bike is engineered with the highest standards in mind. This can be seen in the bike’s superior performance and reliability, making it one of the best 600 cc sports bikes.

There is a reason why Yamaha is known as the most reliable motorcycle manufacturer on the planet, so its high price is fair.

If you have already made up your mind that you want to learn to ride on a Yamaha R6, it is important that you get the best protective gear first. Always wear a good helmet and invest in protective clothing with knee and hip pads so that you get minimal injuries when you go down.

If you are on a tight budget, get a used bike to learn how to ride since it will not cause you too much sorrow to see it in a beaten up state. It will also not cost you thousands of dollars to make mere cosmetic repairs.

May Not Inspire Confidence

There are a lot of riders who opt to go for motorcycle rider training. This is an excellent idea and a must if you want to sit astride a Yamaha R6 as your first bike.

However, if you want to gain good confidence on a bike, I recommend that you start off with a lighter and slower bike. This will allow you to master the basics quickly, gain confidence in a shorter period of time, lead to less mistakes and accidents, and will give you a higher chance of staying injury-free. As you get comfortable on your bike, you will understandably want to swap your bike for a faster model. I recommend that you do not switch immediately to a sports bike, the Yamaha R6. Instead, opt for the smaller R3, which will give you the speed that you need (it can go up to 120 mph which can get you arrested on city streets) but you will need to ride hard to get to that point.

For new riders, it is so much better to ride a slow bike hard rather than ride a fast bike slow. It will give you a much enjoyable and safer experience.

Can Be Dangerous

Everyone knows that the first few months of learning how to ride a bike are the most dangerous period. You still haven’t been able to master the basics, are still struggling with the controls, and still trying to understand how your bike will behave in different situations and conditions.

Hence, if you lose control while traveling at 50 mph, you have a much better chance of getting up and dusting off your jeans than if you are traveling at 150 mph. Most young riders promise to ride slowly at first and they often do. However, with a ride like the Yamaha R6, it can be easy to go faster than you intend and if you drop the clutch while accelerating an R6, it can make your bike lurch forward faster than before, make you lose control, and cause serious injury and damage.

Do the same on a 250 cc or 300 cc bike and at worst, you will drop your bike from under you and get some minor scrapes and bumps.

Too Competitive

One of the biggest reasons beginner riders should be wary of getting on a Yamaha R6 is that it brings out their competitive nature. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — if it does not compromise your safety. Just take any young man on a Yamaha R6 who stops next to another sports bike and not think, “I need to beat him.”

If you are riding out with buddies on a sports bike, this can lead to an even worse situation. Peer pressure can make it unbearable to check in the urge to ride faster, leading to dangerous accidents. It is much better to invest in a smaller bike until you have gained your confidence and know your limits.

No matter what you see on YouTube, nobody can ride the Yamaha R6 close to its limits on the city road. Once you have outgrown your 300 cc bike, you can safely upgrade to the R6.

If you are older and have dependents, you will probably be more cautious when it comes to how fast you can go on a motorcycle. Just keep in mind that if you are riding with experienced riding, you will probably push harder than you otherwise would. For a beginner, this can happen very quickly on a Yamaha R6.

Not Very Convenient

Sports bikes are designed for speed on the track, not every day convenience. Their only purpose is to go faster around a track. The back seat of such motorcycles is often just an afterthought so forget about pillion riding if you are a beginner. Obviously, your girlfriend and wife can still hitch on behind you but don’t blame them if they do not have the most comfortable or enjoyable ride.

There is also hardly any space for your luggage so you can take only as much stuff as will fit your backpack or a tail bag.

So is a Yamaha R6 a Good Bike for Beginners?

Although it is not impossible for a newbie to learn to ride on a Yamaha R6, ultimately, it is not the best choice for beginner riders. A high-powered racing engine makes this bike a lot to handle for inexperienced riders. I recommend starting off on smaller bikes, like the Yamaha R3 first to learn the basics and get good control before you upgrade to a high-performance super bike, the Yamaha R6.

About THE AUTHOR

Dean Marino

Dean Marino

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