The Good: Both the ungainly 2011 Yamaha R1 and lithe, exotic 600cc sex machine come in a seriously classy gloss black/matte black color combination. No ridiculous logos, no hidden tribal graphics.
The Bad: Yamaha’s fluffed the blue/white color scheme this year; the colors are solid (as always), but the layout make the R1 look even more awkward and the font makes the 2011 Yamaha R6 look cheap.
The Ugly: Hey look, it’s a red version. Wait, are those tribal flames, ghost skulls and faux airbrushing? Why yes, I believe they are.
Other than the graphics, both bikes remain unaltered. That’s no bad thing, well, at least not in the R6’s case. It’s amazing that, after four years, this generation of the R6 is still the freshest, sexiest sportsbike design on the market. The only thing that’s ever held it back from making the European competition look outdated and fat has been the shell suit graphics which, this year, disappear on the black bike.
Normally, a 600 repli-racer entering its fifth year of production would be underpowered, under-spec’d and heavier than newer, hotter competition. Not this year, with the motorcycle industry’s inability to create a market for motorcycles in this country except as luxury goods, development on new models has been delayed and the R6 remains a scalpel in a drawer full of only very sharp knives. Power remains at 122bhp, torque is 48lb/ft and it still weighs just 189kg/417lbs (wet). All its components are still cutting edge too, fly-by-wire throttle, variable intake length, fully-adjustable (even high and low speed compression) USD forks holding radial brakes, there’s even a slipper clutch. Just don’t get the skulls. Please.