Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Arlington,MA USA 02474
YZF600R for the Newbie, I say!
YES FOR THE (educated by a course) NEWBIE!!
I have a strong opinion that, if you've taken the Rider Course from a Motorcycle Safety Foundation affiliate, the Yamaha YZF600R is a wonderful newbie motorcycle. In the same atmosphere of "Oh, don't start off on 'too much' bike" , I bought a Kawasaki EX500R as my first motorcycle, and rode it 3,200 miles in 2002. I then got a new, gorgeous black 2002 YZF600R and began riding it in April of 2003. I wish I'd known about the 600R before I got the Kawasaki, and here are some observations and comparisons:
Despite the fact that IF the rider decided to twist the throttle on any bike, it will go "too fast", the YZF is absolutely NOT going to run away with you. I find it MUCH more secure than the Kawasaki EX500R on moderate acceleration, and the riding position holds me securely. For me, with my long arms, both bikes are comfortable, and I'm pretty upright. But the YZF seating and foot/leg position nestles me in the bike more than the EX did, and I had to think to "hang on" if trying to accelerate briskly on the EX. You need not worry that you'd have to be delicate with the throttle on the YZF. You must make a determined effort to do everything. It is not delicate, or touchy, or in any way a scary beast. I have yet to use wide-open-throttle, in 2,500 miles of riding. I've chosen not to. Not once have I felt that the bike was "getting away from me". To accelerate from a traffic light you have to do what you do with any clutch vehicle. It will not scare you or intimidate you.
The YZF is MUCH more STABLE when you are straddling it balanced at rest, as at a traffic light, than the EX, which is 'way "top heavy" in comparison. I never feel that the YZF will tip over sideways if I lean over a bit to reach something- the EX always felt like it was going to topple!
The COMFORT is comparable- both bikes are good for me for hours, but the YZF is a bit better.
On the HIGHWAY there is "no comparison" (he says, comparing). The EX is well capable of keeping up, and since it's in its happy engine speed range at 55-75, it has NO trouble rocketing along. The trouble is: other traffic's windstream wash is extremely unsettling to it and buffets it in an unnerving way. I got used to it but hated it, and consequently it took me forever to get from one end of Massachusetts to the other on secondary roads (which are well paved and fun, thankfully) because I felt that the EX just wasn't safe on the 65mph...and up (since everyone drives crazy-fast here) highways. The YZF is thoroughly at home on fast roads, pretty stable even in the wake of an 18 wheeler, and has fairing superior to the EX! You ride in a nice envelope, even though you may be jamming by someone, passing at 75 or 80 mph. Now I ride wherever the hell I want.
The YZF gets about the same MILEAGE, and has a huge gas tank. I refill, just for the heck of it, at around 180 miles of riding.
The YZF has TIE-DOWN PEGS and loops for securing tail luggage, in the way the EX did. I have a Joe Rocket Blaster tank bag which I snug down at the tail seat. I like the bag a lot, and it's very secure. I also have the Joe Rocket saddle bags, which attach nicely over the tail section.
The YZF has GRAB HANDLES which can be used for tying stuff down, or for example securing a looped-up heavy security cable while riding, etc. (You can see a cable thus looped in the piccy that follows in my next post) Very adaptable.
There IS UNDERSEAT STORAGE on the YZF. None on the EX. Under the seat I carry a Kryptonite N.Y. disk brake lock, a cell phone, a bungie net AND a Kryptonite EV disk lock AND the heavy Kryptonite cable that works with the EV lock to make a "system". I have to experiment with the space, because I think I can get some other stuff in there also. A few Power Bars, anyway!
You can easily change the SPARK PLUGS on the YZF with its tool kit. Due to an emissions add-on to the EX engine, which is RIGHT in the way of access to the plugs, arcing over the plug wells, this is murder. I love how the EX owner's manual has a murky photo showing where the spark plugs are. Yeah, but that's with the top of the engine removed!! With the YZF, you reach in and remove the spark plug boots, put the tool in and down, put the turning rod through, and unscrew the plug. No need to remove fairing parts.
Although there are complaints about all the YZF FAIRING screws, it ain't that bad. To change the oil filter, I just remove the front triangular decorative fairing piece, put a section of plastic milk carton to guide the run-off of oil toward the front of the bike and into the catch pan (cheap 4' tall cat litter pan is fine). For the left-side oil drain plug, I undo the one rearmost fairing screw that holds the sides together there, and maybe another screw or two, again put a section of plastic milkl carton under the drain plug to guide the flow. Easy.
The YZF BRAKES are superb! Superb. Everything you've read and continue to read is true. The EX's brakes... adequate.
Oh, on the EX, I used to think "Dive! Dive!" when braking, 'cause the front end just mashes down. When I was new to the bike, I was pumping the brakes as I do with my car to catch the attention of the driver behind me. Not good to do with the EX, since it will bunny hop on the soft front end. Not so the YZF.
It seems true, the YZF will no longer be sold in England (UK) and perhaps Europe for 2004, due to its carbureted engine not being able to keep up with emissions regulations. BUT it IS being sold in the USA as a 2004!! YEAYYYY!! There is a very fine and fun and ACTIVE UK website, an msn group that I belong to and get daily email updates from, the yzfthundercats site. I recommend it. There you can see a photo of about 30 of the bikes side by side on a "rideout" the members did. They talk a lot to each other, offer repair and upgrade advice, etc.. etc. Terrific.
Oh the only difference I'm aware of, besides color, between the 2002 and the 2003 bike is that the SPEEDOMETER of the 2002 has numbers only at the 20, 40, 60, 80 etc. and just lines at the 10, 30, 50, etc. The 2003 has all the numbers (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, ) as well as lines at the "five" marks. Probably easier to make sense of at a glance- I know it takes me a second to "compute" what I'm seeing for speed on the less-informative 2002 speedo.
PRICE: I got my 2002 Black (Ahhh!) in October 2002 from Ronnie's of Adams, Massachusetts for $6,299. The dealer set-up blah blah brought it to $6,580 out the door. And the people there are great. It was a thorough pleasure buying from them. My EX cost me about $1,000 less, but I had to sell it, at $3,900 this spring. Had I bought the YZF (had I "known better" than to take all the"beginner bikes" advice as some sort of friggin' Bible) first, my skills would have advanced, safely, comfortably, faster, and I'd have been riding the highway when I wanted to..and in th end have saved a bunch of money. Happily, the oil filters I got for the EX fit the YZF!!
1) RUNS HOT: The YZF runs hot soon when idling or in low speed traffic, and gets a bit balky. (I gotta say the EX was much more stable in warm weather traffic, but it had less fairing, for a smaller engine.) The frame units,under your knees and thighs, also get really warm! You'll want those Joe Rocket Blaster perforated leathers between you and that heat, probably. I never ride without full gear. It cools quickly once underway.
2) HELP! IT'S THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS!! The headlight is for sheit. All you may read on the UK Thundercats site will be proven true. The high beam has a weird black triangle in the middle of the beam pattern. Wretched. (At least the EX had a good headlight.) It doesn't help that dealerships don't bother to adjust the headlight aiming on new bikes. This is the second bike I've owned, and neither dealer adjusted the headlight before selling me the supposedly "inspected" bike. The EX's light was aimed at the ground a couple feet from the bike. The YZF's was aimed at Pluto.
3) COVERING: It's a big machine. The Dowco Guardian 100 cover will cover it to the ground! Perfect. I love that cover.The smaller Dowco Guardian 50 I had for the EX is kinda small. Chaparral has the Dowco covers at a best-price-I've-found.
4) LOCKING: Good Luck. You cannot fit a standard disk brake lock through the rear brake disk. There are no holes large enough. Grrr. Nor can you fit one of the slender locks such as the Abus "Quick" lock- also called the Granite- or the Kryptonite similar lock, through either front or rear. The holes of the disks are just in the wrong place for that. (Shame, 'cause I liked my Granite on the EX, which accepted anything.) I can fit the Kryptonite N.Y. Disk (heavy, small lock) on the YZF's front, and I add a heavy Kryptonite cable looped through the rear wheel and locked to the front with a Kryptonite EV lock as well.
5) SHIFT GLITCHES? There are many postings about troubles with the YZF's first to second shift, getting "false" neutrals when upshifting, etc. After a couple hundred miles, my initial occasional problems were about over. There just needs to be a distinctive Ka-chunk pull up from first, through neutral, into second. If you don't give it a firm pull, it may stop in neutral. Thinking to pull good and hard overcomes this. It will happen if you are not concentrating, and give a light pull. I also had trouble finding neutral during the first couple hundred miles. The bike has self-cured that problem also, with breaking in.
6) I SEE YOU! BYE! The mirrors and their placement are a big improvement over the EX. Now I don't think about trying to see around my elbows and upper arms all the time.
7) TRIUMPH: Hey, my Triumph Stealth jacket is the Nazz ! Look "cool", be comfy! (See photo in my following post.)
Last edited by unclefot; 09-28-2003 at 05:59 PM.