What Year R6 is the best? [Analysis Using Survey Data]

What Year R6 is the best

Everyone has their favorite version of the powerhouse that is the Yamaha R6. Ask ten riders and you get ten different answers. To answer this question in the most comprehensive and unbias manner, I aggregate the responds from different forums and present the data and answer here.

Based on the data, the best year for Yamaha R6 is 2017, with 2008 being a close second. 23% of the respondents felt 2017 was the best year because of its sleek design and a new electronic package that introduced lots of new features. 2008 was chosen due to its classic design and incredible horsepower.

Let take a closer look at the data from RF forum (source: https://www.r6-forum.com/threads/best-year-model-r6-from-1998-2017-opinions.423473/)

RF forum which year R6 is best

2017 was first place with 22.9% of the votes, followed closely by 2008 with 20.8% of votes.

In fact, when you look at the pie chart, there are 3 clusters.

  • 2nd generation yamaha R6, represented by 2001 to 2004 models
  • 2006 to 2009 cluster where it was essentially upgraded to the third generation
  • 2017 onwards, which some considered to be the start of the fourth generation

From 2009 to 2016, there wasn’t any big changes, as majority of the design still follows from the 2006 model. This is why the number of people who love them wasn’t that many.

2017 model, on the other hand, represented a bigger change and it was a change that had lots of positive responses.

For those who love vintage or classic motorbike designs, the 2001 model clearly is the favorite among the 2nd generation bikes. Most like it as it is slightly more comfortable than the third generation and also offers a classic look


Reasons for their choices

  • Ownership  – Believe it or not, majority of the respondents made their choices because that is what they have. There was no objective comparison or using any kind of standardize criteria.
  • Looks – The design of the motorcycle seems to be the next important reason. Many of the respondents who liked the 2017 model because they felt it had the best new design, especially on the front. Only one commented about 2017’s new features and technology. Some felt that the 2016 model has the better tail design.
  • Comfort – Some respondents liked the older models before the 2006 because of the comfort. Specifically, seat heights for these 2nd generation R6 were less aggressive.
  • Exhaust noise – Interestingly, 2-3 respondents actually made their choices because they love the sound of their exhaust. All of these are for 2001 to 2004 models, which are basically the 2nd generations bikes.
  • Features – 2017 had the biggest improvement in terms of technology and features. However, very few actually commented about such changes.


Major Changes between R6 years

The result mesh well with how the R6 model has changed over the years. Presented below is a quick summary of their history.


2005 – The Yamaha team wanted to boast the power for the 2005 and ended up almost creating a new motorcycle. It had stronger horsepower than the previous years. Handling was also improve to give riders more precision in the control of the new additional power.


2006 – From the 2006 models onward, the motorbikes were made more aggressive. Seat height were risen and handle bar were lowered more than previous years, meaning you have to bend lower. This change made the bike look more like a racing motorbike than one used for the street.

In addition, due to pubic policy on CO2 emissions, changes were made to the engine. This is why some felt 2005 was the last street level racer that had the full design without any compromises.


2008 – Yamaha removed the carburetor from the R6 in 2008. Carburetors have had issues such as cold starting or more importantly, uneven control of emission levels at high speeds. In other words, carburetors introduced more risks into high speed riding.

2008 retain the 2016 design and modified to look it look sharper. More specifically, the frame was beefed up to increase its mid range performance as well as made it less stiff/ This was a successful introduction as many rider are still seeking out this model year currently.


2009-16 –Very minimal changes were introduced. It seems the 2008 model was a winning design and the company wanted to keep it that way.


2017 – The 2017 version introduced changes to its design In particular, it adopted the 2017 R1 style look which wowed many fans.

In addition, they introduce the electronic package which upgraded a lot of features. Chief among them were the gear selector, quick throttle response and abs control.  The quick throttle response is one that has received pretty good response.


Yamaha R6 2008 vs 2017

With survey results showing these 2 models being the most favorite, what are their differences?

The biggest difference between is that Yamaha r6 2017 has the added electronics that the 2008 model does not have.  The 2017 model also spotted a newer designer. However, the 2008 possess stronger power and torque than the 2017 version.

The reason for the drop in power and torque in 2017 was due to the Euro4-compliant requirements. Hence, if you want to know which is the faster Yamaha mode, it will be 2008.

However, unless you are using the bike for racing, this slight drop in power should not be a major issue. The biggest change should be the braking system that is part of the electronics package introduced in 2017.

This ABS system will automatically interfere when it feels your front tire is at its limit and cannot be turned off. Some will hate this system as it limits their ability to push the riding speed. Others will feel that it adds to the safety of the bike.



The Yamaha R6 has always been among the top its class. For some, it is already a racing capable bike that is somehow allowed on the street.

That being said, it is not a bike for beginners. If you are new to riding, I will not suggest you to start with this.

However, for any veterans of racer bikes, the R6 is as good as it gets. If you want the best of the  best, get the 2008 or the 2017 year. For additional reading, check out our reviews for the best battery for R6.

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