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1999 Yamaha YZF600 - Road Test
Still One Of The Best 600 Class Sportbikes Going!
Photos by: MN
Suits: AeroStich Two-Piece Roadcrafter, Helmet: HJC/Arai
Tank Bag: Eclipse Elite Magnetic Tank Bag

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you've noticed the motorcycle press has made the YZF600 it's pet whipping boy for 1999. It's been disregarded so much, some buyers may have taken it off their must see list when shopping for a mid size sportbike. If they do, they'll be missing out on one of the best all-around 600s currently available!

The first thing riders and non-riders alike say when they see the YZF is "Wow, what a pretty bike". We couldn't agree more, since Yamaha has done a fine job styling the YZF. What's more, they have bestowed a load of refinement upon this little wonder. All the hardware hung on the YZF, dare we say, has a fit and finish quality equal to it's largest Japanese competitor - high praise indeed.

You want to talk refinement. How about an engine that feels rock solid and makes virtually no mechanical noise except for its pleasurable exhaust and intake note. The liquid cooled 599cc in-line 16-valve powerplant isn't the current day leader in acceleration or peak horsepower, but it does however put out excellent power - especially up top.The Yamaha runs well from idle to it's 13,200 redline. This is in part due to the bikes spot-on jetting. Oh yeah, did we mention that it's the smoothest running engine of the bunch. It's smoother than Honda's new F4 and it put our test Katana 750 to shame. It's also very comfortable and provides fair wind protection. These are all traits we would look for in a 600 for commuting to work or taking that 3,000 mile summer vacation. The YZF truly shines for the rider who wants to use his or her bike for all types of riding.

What about sport riding you ask? Yes, you can now find a slew of 600s that will beat the YZF on cutting edge performance, but the bike is no slouch. In fact, it's very easy to ride - a trait that will help many riders. On open roads the YZF holds it's own especially in the handling department. It only gives way to bikes with more horsepower. When the going gets tight your riding buddies will catch and pass you on the new crop of 600s. It's not that the YZF works poorly, it's just that the newer 600s, like Honda's F4 and Yamaha's own R6 just work better.

Traversing twisty back roads on the Yamaha is a blast, though there are a few weak areas that could stand improvement. First gear is a bit too tall thus forcing it's use too often. The otherwise stellar tranny missed shifts from first to second for all of our test riders, and the forks seemed to flex and pull to the right under hard braking. The YZF also takes a good bit of concentration to keep it spinning up top above 9,000 RPM where maximum horsepower is made. Bikes like the F4 will pull better down low and through the mid-range thus gaining an advantage exiting corners. To it's credit, the YZF's steering is very precise, traction is good and confidence inspiring, brakes are excellent though the rear chatters far too much, and boy is this bike comfortable.

So comfortable in fact, we dub the YZF the most comfortable sporting 600 on the planet! We rode it back to back with it's closest contender, Honda's new F4. The Yamaha has a more comfortable seat, great for all day rides, the engine produces little vibration (less than the Honda), and the bars and pegs are comfortable for short and tall riders alike. The fairing and bodywork keep most of the elements off the rider, which allowed us to make a number of mountain runs into temperatures in the 20s (using our favorite Gerbing's electrics of course) which is something you can't do on many sport bikes. Every time you climb aboard the Yamaha, everything just feels right.

When you've been riding all day and find yourself with 300 miles left between you and home, the bike you'll want to be on is Yamaha's YZF600. The bikes good fuel mileage and excellent range won't hurt either. Our technical advisor Tim summed up the YZF quite well after just his first ride. "OK, it turns and stops well, it's fast and it's comfortable and easy to ride - what do you want me to ride next?" Everyone who rode the YZF agreed with Tim. In fact, it didn't really matter to our testers if they were given the Yamaha or Honda's incredible new F4 to ride. This is high praise indeed for a bike that's been called over the hill by many moto journalist. If the Yamaha fits your style of real world riding, don't pass it by. The YZF600 is welcome in our shop anytime.

Yamaha: 1999 Yamaha YZF600R
Quick Specs: Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Displacement: 599cc, DOHC 4-cylinder, 16 valve Acceleration               8 . .
Drive:   6-speed, chain Brakes                 9 .
Fuel Capacity:   5.0 Gal. (0.8 reserve) Carburetion                 9 .
Fuel Mileage: 46 - 50 mpg Comfort (overall)                   9.5
Fuel Range:  Reserve @ 200, 225 plus Comfort (touring)                 9 .
Susp. Front: Telescopic, Fully adjustable Finish (quality)                 9 .
Susp. Back: Link-type, Fully adjustable Handling (overall)                 9 .
Tire Front: 120/60 - ZR17 Stability (handling)                 9 .
Tire Back: 160/60 - ZR17 Suspension (overall)               8 . .
Weight:   Dry - 412 lbs.

Fun Factor

                9 .
Retail (US): $6,999

Overall Rating

                9 .


Ups Downs
Very comfortable Needs wider set mirrors
Rock solid feel Missed shifts from 1st to 2nd
Fit & finish Hard to read real world speeds on speedo
Fuel range Speedo too dark at night
Excellent seat Odometer hard to reset
Excellent controls ..
Easy to ride .

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