2008 Yamaha R6:
Yamaha's 2008 R6 is about as close to a full-on racebike as anything available on the market. It revs to the moon, likes to make power up top and isn't exactly friendly to the street rider who tends to spend his time in the midrange. This was the most obvious conclusion we came to after spending a day riding the stocker around town and through the hills of southern California, but we had a plan to improve its performance while tightening up the appearance as well.
With our compiled list of necessities we got on the phone and ordered up some aftermarket goodies, but they had to fall in line with our goal of the build-spend less than a day to make the stock bike perform and look better with bolt-on parts that are easily installed at home. After all, we know you'd rather be riding your new bike than letting it sit in the corner of a shop waiting for a mechanic to get to it. With some basic competency using hand tools and the ability to follow simple instructions you can get your ride ripping in no time and without much grief, either.
While we went over the bike looking for possible improvement areas we noticed that Yamaha had already made some for us since the 2007 model. A common complaint about the previous version was the complete lack of a midrange. Though we still found it could use some improvement for the street, this issue has been addressed. The addition of some technical geekery called the YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake) system that was introduced on the R1 last year has made its way onto the R6 and definitely improves the lack of grunt that the older bike suffered from. The airbox's variable-length intake trumpets cleverly stretch from tall to short at 13,700 rpm, keeping midrange stronger then adjusting (to short) for the top-end delivery. This was as much as Yamaha could do on its end, and it was nearly enough for us-but not quite. Our simple solution for more middle was to change the final-drive gearing to bring some of the higher rev range's power delivery to us quicker and lower on the tach. The easy way for us to dramatically change the bike's street character was with a smaller front sprocket from Vortex and a larger rear from AFAM (also commonly known as going "one down and two up").
The difference was immediate, particularly when pulling away from traffic lights or winding on the throttle out of corners. Where the stock gearing made the bike slightly lazy, the aftermarket sprockets gave the R6 an immediate seat-of-the-pants improvement-no more sluggishness in the middle.
To go one step further in our power improvements we hooked up the obvious and most identifiable piece-a Graves Motorsports full-system exhaust along with a Power Commander. As the dyno chart indicates, we gained 6 horsepower and 3 pound-feet of torque-and it was definitely a noticeable mod. The quick and easy install gave us better looks, sound, and, most importantly-performance.
Graves loads a predetermined fuel map into its Power Commanders so that they are literally a plug-and-play install for do-it-yourselfers, and spending additional time and money at your local dyno isn't necessary to get great results. Also notable was that the pipe bolted on easily without loosening the radiator or struggling to find access to the header bolts. It was one of the simplest full-exhaust installs we've performed, and it took less than an hour-including removal of the bodywork as well as installation of the exhaust and Power Commander!
With our motor and power delivery tweaks addressed we moved on to appearance and accessories, and though the sky is the limit for some, we felt that our basic and somewhat modest mods were the most appropriate "Stage 1" tune that most owners could perform for quick and easy results while holding the budget in check.
To keep it in the family we sourced swingarm spools, a carbon-fiber rear hugger and a double-bubble-style windscreen from GYT-R, the official Yamaha aftermarket parts provider. Next, we raided the Graves catalog further and found bar ends, a fender-eliminator kit, frame sliders and flush-mount indicators to tighten up the R6's looks.
The final upgrades were the usuals-click-adjusting levers as well as adjustable rearsets. It's amazing what a few pieces of color-coordinated billet aluminum can do for a bike's looks, and these parts perform better than stock, too (thanks to easy adjustments to fit rider preferences).
Lastly we yanked off the passenger pegs to clean up the angular rear a bit further. If this was our own bike we'd probably have taken a spray can to the kickstand to complete the blacked-out look with the rearsets, but since we have to return it we thought the better of taking such liberties.
With our R6 now lighter, faster and sharper looking we were ready to tackle the same bits of road that we sampled with the R6 in stock trim, and the results really came as no surprise. In fact, if this were a blindfold test the rider wouldn't even recognize it as the same bike. The stronger and fuller midrange grunt, complemented by a more powerful top-end delivery, make the R6 feel much more like a 750 thanks to the front wheel's tendency to lift under acceleration. Losing the bulky weight from the stock pipe was also noticeable, particularly when maneuvering the bike at lower speeds.
The 2008 R6 is a good bike straight off the showroom floor, but these basic mods are a quick, easy and cost-effective way to make it an even better-performing and certainly better-looking sportbike.
Grave's Motosports: Full stainless and carbon-fiber exhaust ($1247), Power Commander III ($339), fender-eliminator kit ($59.99), flush-mount indicators ($59.99), frame sliders ($99.75), bar ends ($39.99) (WWW.GRAVESPORT.COM)
Yamaha GYT-R: Carbon-fiber rear fender ($202.50), dark windscreen ($99.85), swingarm spools ($23.95), axle adjusters ($49.95) www.yamaha-motor.com
Vortex Racing: Adjustable rearsets ($407.95), front sprocket ($30.95) www.vortexracing.com
AFAM: Rear sprocket ($68.95)
Pazzo: adjustable levers ($199.98)
MSRP: $9599 ($9799 for the special yellow/flame version)
Motor: 599cc liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder; DOHC, 16-valve
**Bore XStroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
Compression Ratio: 13.1:1
Front: 41mm fully adjustable USD fork
Rear:** fully adjustable shock
Dimensions:Wheelbase 54.3 In
Weight 366 LBS (DRY)
Tank Capacity 4.6 GAL