For 2022, Yamaha will sell you a sport bike in special "chain block" livery that several of us here at Common Tread think is pretty slick. You can also once again buy a new YZF-R6. But that R6 won't come in the special paint. And it won't be street-legal.
The Yamaha sport bike lineup for 2022 is a good example of the evolution of sport bikes, which now appears to be in its final stages of leaving the once-popular 600 cc inline-fours behind. Yamaha is celebrating 60 years since its first world championship grand prix race by selling anniversary models in special livery, but they're offering that on the YZF-R1, R7 and R3. Not the fizzy R6.
Yamaha first entered a world championship grand prix in 1961. The livery of a red stripe on a white background was first used a few years later. In the 1970s, Kenny Roberts raced with a yellow and black "chain block" livery. His teammate, Johnny Cecotto, raced a similar design in the traditional white and red and that's the look evoked by the 60th anniversary editions.
The 60th anniversary editions get other cosmetic touches, such as gold wheels, emblems and badges. Prices will be $5,499 MSRP for the R3, $9,299 for the R7 and $18,099 for the R1.
Or, an R6 in primer white
Yamaha did not offer a 2021 YZF-R6 but you will be able to buy a 2022. You just can't ride it legally on the street.
The YZF-R6 GYTR will be a track-only model, for sale in limited numbers and by special order through a dealer. It comes in primer white race bodywork and fitted with a long list of parts that racers would be putting on the bike anyway, after removing unwanted and unneeded street parts. The price is up considerably, too, at $18,399, compared to $12,199 for the 2020 R6, the last year of the street bike.
Despite being discontinued for the street, the R6 had a hell of a 20-year run, mostly on the track. It has almost always been the most track-oriented of the 600 cc four-cylinders, with its redline up at 16,500 rpm. The attributes that made it great for racing, however, made it less suited to street use, except for those riders who wanted to bask in the reflected glory of its on-track accomplishments.
And there were plenty of those. The last four World Supersport championships, and seven of the last 12, have been won on an R6. In the United States, in the MotoAmerica era, riders on an R6 have won four of seven championships and Yamaha riders won every single race in 2015. Plus, it was the most popular choice among privateer riders because there is so much knowledge about how to prep the motorcycle for racing. As noted in yesterday's artice on the Daytona 200, that race has been won by an R6 nine of the 12 times it has been run under the Supersport formula.
The track was always the R6's natural habitat, and now the track is its only habitat. If you want something for the street that makes a nod to racing, Yamaha has some other sport bikes with special paint it would like to tell you about.