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2008 Yamaha R6 - First Ride
Yamaha’s YZF-R6 has been a major player in the middleweight sportbike wars ever since it debuted in 1999. Combining light weight with razor-sharp handling and a wailing top-end punch, Yammie’s 600cc screamer has been a potent tool that perennially competes for top honors in its class.
Then in 2006, the R6 received a ground-up overhaul that resulted in a package that many judged to be the tastiest eye-candy in the segment. That (plus an optimistic 17,500-rpm tachometer) garnered plenty of attention among consumers and the media alike. This flash and controversy somewhat overshadowed a stellar chassis and the bike’s less-streetable character from its racy ergos and the engine’s top-heavy powerband.
So in this mid-cycle revision for ’08, the tweaked R6 has a bolstered midrange punch and even better handling dynamics in the face of new-for-2007 challengers from Honda and Kawasaki, plus a revised GSX-R600 from Suzuki for ’08. Yamaha invited Motorcycle.com to the hills and twists of Laguna Seca near Monterey, California, so we could gleefully sample the latest iteration of this sportbike sales success: R6 sales are up 44% since 2001.
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