Driving report Yamaha YZF 600 R and YZF 1000 R
In rapid succession
Yamaha has a big bang this year, bringing two fresh sprinters into play: Thunderace and Thundercat are the names of the two thunderbolts on which new sporting spirit flashes.
Thundercat and Thunderace – two strange names. Somehow weird.
Those who shy away from using opaque passwords or have bad relationships with Tiäitsch can of course fall back on such serious, harmless names as YZF 600 R – that’s the cat – and YZF 1000 R in the case of the two new super sports cars. Now Yamaha has found its way For his top models, however, not only exorbitant, thunderous epithets, but also expressive, sparkling clean colors and shapes as well as an extraordinary form of presentation. The expedition started on a Thursday and led to another world – south of the equator: Welcome to South Africa! There is only one night between winter and summer, a cruel eternity between black and white. And we worry about thunder cats.
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Driving report Yamaha YZF 600 R and YZF 1000 R
In rapid succession
Yamaha emphasizes to make sure that nobody thinks about treating the Thunderace as a Race Replica. Because that’s exactly what she doesn’t want to be. Your destination is public road traffic, where, according to the wishes of its creators, it should play one role in the entire super sports competition.
16 kilograms lighter than the FZR 1000 and blessed by the tried and tested frame layout of the YZF 750, which promises more handiness, the YZF 1000 has a lot of good cards. She holds trumps in terms of seating position and comfort, because these topics occupy two big chapters in the Thunderace development history. The issue of draft also received increased attention. In the course of thorough renovation work, the third generation of the Exup engine was equipped with new .38 carburettors with a throttle valve sensor, a lighter crankshaft with forged pistons and a closely spaced five-speed gearbox with a gear sensor.
As calming as it all sounds – when she stands in front of you, the Thunderace, large and powerful, captivating, when she does nothing more than stand there with her head bowed slightly and a gaze demonstrating superiority, one can get a little queasy.
Do the tips of your toes reach the floor? Does the thunder bolt also have something like friendliness? Can his mountainous 20 liter tank be bridged with shorter arms? Why me? And then: surprise, the giant is a friend. Amazingly compact and not that high at all. If the structure of the tank and seat bench had not turned out to be quite as wide – a fact that even long-legged people sniffle at it – there would even be a chance of bipedal contact with the ground for people around 1.60 meters. Thanks to the proper balance of the machine, however, the desire to be connected to the earth soon dissolves into pleasure. Only when turning around (especially in left-hand traffic in South Africa) does the YZF feel a bit awkward.
As promised, the sitting position turns out to be a “low fatigue riding position”: relatively upright upper body, relatively slightly angled knees. And the best thing about it: Despite the comfortable conditions, you get the feeling of directing the machine in a sporty manner from above.
At the Franschhoek Pass, an exciting tangle of bends, the 1000 is good for the next surprise: not the awkward big bike. The Donnerofen steams confidently up and down the pass, so loosely, so handy, so precisely that there is enough room to be distracted by the mountain landscape. Without looking up, the YZF records exactly the specified line. Even bumps don’t upset them. It feels like they’re pulling on a maglev.
Only once, when a particularly lousy, washboard-like piece of asphalt suddenly lay around in the middle of the street, the YZF lost its composure and shook the ends of the handlebars. But why are there all those fine buttons on the mighty 48 fork: rebound, compression, spring base – all adjustable. Also on the Bilstein rear shock. Even for a flyweight, the Thunderace still has something like comfort ready.
What the five-valve engine does with its 145 horsepower is difficult to describe: It has to do with gentle force. Certainly the Exup engine is not one of the rattling, pounding volcanoes. He goes to work in a cultivated but determined manner. There is plenty of performance everywhere, but nowhere in terrifying concentration. That feels fine. Fine, worthy and valuable.
The shift unit does not act quite as harmoniously, because the clutch only works for the last few millimeters, consequently the gearbox gets stuck and the idling is almost impossible to find. Hopefully this deficiency can be ascribed to the many wheelies of the English journalists, who demanded everything from the Thunderbikes the day before.
After the road test drives, the YZF can still be chased around in a circle on a small racetrack. Here, too, she shines with excellent stability, but her fullness now matters. Rapid changes in lean angle require a lot of strength.
This becomes all the more evident in view of the presence of the YZF 600 R, which can be thrown around corners as playfully as ever. There is a simple reason why the Thundercat is only given a telegram description in this driving report: MOTORRAD 6/1996 already has the first cat test. So here are just the most important things: the most noticeable change is of course the new outfit with ultra-aerodynamic cladding and defused tank – the edges are gone.
Sports riders in particular will be delighted with the openings in the modern plastic shell: Yes, the Yamaha finally has a Ram Air system. This is completed by the larger size 36 carburettor with a throttle valve sensor. Hand was also put on the cylinder block, piston and exhaust system. Result: 105 hp.
Whether there is actually so much power in the Thunder Cat, who would want to judge that without a network and roller dynamometer. In any case, the four-valve engine feels incredibly robust from 2500 revs upwards, right up to the red. Stronger than the FZR seelig. How it looks in comparison to the CBR and ZX-6R … we’ll find out soon.
Fortunately, the YZF does not limp with the limp fork springs of its predecessor. It got a modified telescopic fork that has more reserves than its predecessor. With the new front suspension, the 600 feels a lot more stable, although real hell drivers continue to grumble about the slender 17 mm axle and the 41 mm stanchions: “How the part twists, I just can’t have it,” complains a disappointed colleague.
The new brake earns nothing but praise. The double disc system at the front has always been a weak point of the Yamaha. Not only because of the poor dosability, also because of the delayed release of the pliers. That is the end of it: the YZF 600 has brakes that the competition will lick their fingers for, four-piston stoppers, against which many a six-piston system looks old. Ace brakes, so to speak, because the Thunderace works with the same deceleration tactics. The special feature of the arrangement is the one-piece brake caliper. Exactly dosed, strong in the bite and still at the height even after heavy use, this braking system spreads a new pleasure: braking with thunder and glory.
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