The middleweight class, once the mainstay of the motorcycle industry, has seen its fortunes slip to the point where many riders see it as the consolation prize for those who can’t afford—or handle—a bigger bike. But far from being a haven for also-rans, the Class of 600 boasts some of the most balanced machines in any category. Case in point, Yamaha’s FZ6. With a competent chassis and an engine derived from the high-revving YZF-R6, the FZ6 brings satisfying power and handling to the table as well as a lower price, cheaper insurance, and wickedly good bang for the buck.
The FZ6 is worth a hard look from beginners who want a flashy yet cost-effective entry into the sport and veteran riders out for cheap but genuine thrills. At its heart is a 600cc engine descended from the first-generation YZF-R6 sportbike. Even though the four-banger was detuned for better midrange, get used to tap dancing on the shift lever if you want to keep its attention. Like its sportier sibling, the FZ6’s mill loves to rev, with the real power stepping in at about 7,500 rpm.
The transmission’s operation is hit or miss. Period tests of the FZ6 vacillated between loving its smoothness and positive feel and loathing it for a clunky, balky box o’ cogs. Clutch engagement might have something to do with the disagreement. The engagement point is narrow and might make you suspect problems that go deeper than cable adjustment, but that’s often all it is. Owners quickly adapt to it.
The seating position tends toward the sit-up end of the ergonomic scale, and the small fairing blunts some of the windblast, though not nearly enough at the elevated speeds that are common on American freeways. The seat is around 32 inches off the pavement, an elevation that intimidates some rookies, but it’s comfy enough to drain the 5.1-gallon tank at a single sitting. The suspension gives a ride that’s firm but controlled and entirely adequate for city commuting or back road peg scratching.
In 2007, the FZ6 got its first big dose of upgrades, including a fuel-injection tweak that helped the bike’s light-switch-like throttle response, a redesigned fairing and screen, a new seat, and four-piston front brake calipers. The underseat exhaust remained unchanged and with it the difficulty of affixing soft luggage for sport-touring.
The FZ6 appeals to riders of all skill levels, which makes crash damage more likely on used ones. A centerstand and a well-stocked toolkit are both standard on the FZ6; if either is missing, ask why since they’ll be expensive to replace. Check the steering-head bearings for slop or rust, especially if the bike was ridden in the wet or shows signs of mono-wheel hooning. The mirrors stick out like antlers on a moose but provide a good view of the road to the rear. They’re sometimes replaced by sleeker but useless aftermarket ones, so ask for the stock ones if you prefer to know who’s sneaking up on you.
Entertaining performance, competent chassis, and rational ergonomics. The bike Goldilocks would ride.
Buzzy, rev-happy engine, price-point suspension, less-than-complete wind protection, and saddlebag-roasting mufflers.
Abrupt clutch and throttle response, absent centerstand, loud and ineffective aftermarket exhaust.
A middleweight motorcycle that packs heavyweight value. Why settle for more when less does the job just as well?
2004 | $2785
2005 | $3120
2006 | $3545
2007 | $3185
2008 | $3970
2009 | $4295
2010 | $4885
There’s more to buying a used bike than specs, condition, and price. If you’re good with tools and know how to work on bikes, not having a dealer in the area isn’t a problem. But if you’re the kind of rider who depends on the dealer for regular maintenance, make sure there’s a good one nearby so you don’t end up shooting an entire day getting an oil change.