Yamaha's FZ6 S2, as they're calling it these days, is pretty much your archetypal naked Japanese bike. If you read the press blurb, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's practically an undressed Yamaha R6. Yamaha certainly haven't been shy with their claims of real sportbike performance for it.
Last year, this bike was actually complimented for its looks when compared to the other offerings from the land of the rising sun. Like the far uglier Suzuki, its headlight bears more than a striking resemblance to the MV Agusta Brutale's, which is obviously not a bad thing.
This Yamaha FZ6 S2 is only slightly tweaked from the first Yamaha FZ6. The new name is to differentiate it from the in Europe available lower spec FZ6 that's further detuned to 75 horsepower.
To demonstrate its status, the S2 gets its frame, swingarm, and fork painted black. You also get a redesigned LCD display. Best of all, the four-piston calipers make a welcome return. The result is a clear aesthetic advantage over the other Japanese bikes on the market.
The riding position is typical for the class. It'll suit most shapes and sizes of riders, and pillions won't have too hard a time of it either. It lacks a sporty feel though. Compared to a Kawasaki Z750, or a KTM Super Duke, the Yamaha Fazer feels like a naked tourer.
The bars are high and narrow, which in turn makes the seat feel very low. The result is you always feel a little too sat-in the Yamaha FZ6 to really pick it up and grab it by the scruff of the neck.
That's a shame, because the chassis is the Yamaha Fazer's strongest attribute. Despite the narrow bars, the steering is pretty swift, even if it can't quite match the sweetness of some of the other 600cc bikes available on the market.
Neutral steering has never been one of Yamaha's strong points. It is precise though, and the comparatively stiff ally frame, matched with sensible springing and damping settings, give the Yamaha FZ6 S2 good control over bumps and its mass. The new brakes are more than up to the job too.
The only real oddity is the tire choice. Considering how adamant Yamaha are that the Yamaha FZ6 is a naked sportbike, fitting Bridgestone BT-020 sport-touring tires seems like a frank admission of low expectations. They certainly hold the bike back in this company.
The Yamaha's FZ6 S2 engine is actual a Yamaha R6-2005 derived engine and shares bore and stroke, combustion chamber shape, forged pistons, valves, crank, and linerless, direct-plated cylinders. It has reshaped camshafts, reconfigured inlet and exhaust ports, and a 0.2 lower compression ratio aim for better midrange and low end drive. A new injection system uses 36mm throttle bodies, with a 4jet/2direction spray system.