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Road & Product Tests

Yamaha XJ6 Diversion – 3000 miles on

There’s a word that sums up Yamaha’s XJ6 Diversion – competent.

I did a write up of one I test rode back in October on my blog here and I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed… you can definitely see it’s built down to a price – steel parts like the rear brake lever where sports bikes have alloy.

But the engine on this one seems rather stronger than the test bike (even thought that one was nearly new too – perhaps it’s now ‘run in’?) and it’s a bike where “re-tuning for midrange” doesn’t just mean chopping the top end off – it does actually seem to pull well 40-80, which is ideal for overtaking on B roads. If there is a criticism it tends to encourage you to leave it in top gear rather than use an intermediate gear for better response.

I even had the opportunity to get the Divvie out on the track for an hour at Castle Combe some weeks ago. It gets to three figures with no trouble but runs out of puff beyond as you enter licence-losing land though.

Totally out of its natural environment, I was amazed at how well it handled out on the circuit. Whilst I wasn’t going absolutely flat out (I’ve never ridden there before and whilst the braking points were marked I never felt totally comfortable their braking points were mine!), I did manage to get the pegs down in a couple of the corners.

The steering was delightfully neutral – on the few occasions I overcooked it into the bus-stop chicanes and was off the ideal line, modding the line was easy.

The high speed bump damping is a bit too hard and the rebound probably a bit too soft which led to a bit of harshness over bumps and slight wallows in the fast bends, but let’s remember this is very much a non-sports bike.

Whilst the high bars weren’t an impediment (I actually like the old ‘Eddie Lawson’ style bars – loads of leverage!), the position of the footpegs and gear shift were. I found it almost impossible to change gear because they were just too far forward and I couldn’t get my toe over the lever to shift down again! Fortunately the motor is so flexible it handled most of the circuit in second gear, with 3rd only really needed on the run along the straight up through Quarry to the tight right hander.

With better use of the box I dare say I could have carried rather more speed up the main straight through Quarry, but even so I was able to hang onto the coat tails of a guy on a GSX-R750 who, like me, was feeling his way round the circuit, and no-one got past me from behind in the group I was in. But it was all put into perspective when one of the instructors flew past on a 999 on the last lap to make sure we’d spotted the chequered “end of session” flag!

If you’re not going to run in the fast group at trackdays, the XJ6 might make a pretty good bike for a trackday newbie to start learning how to ride on tracks, simply because you can forget about the bike and get on with learning lines, braking points, steering, hard braking and the rest.

One thing it did show me was that the brakes weren’t anything like bedded in after what I would have said was some reasonably vigorous use on the road during a ride with a mate on Sunday – a few squeezes on the braking exercises we did before we got out on circuit showed there was loads more power than I realised – so brakes have gone from controllable and a bit soft, to controllable with more than enough!! The ABS incidentally is surprisingly subtle when it cuts in – no pulsing through the levers.

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Interestingly it will run clear to the far end of the red zone on the rev counter with no problem at all in the lower gears. It’s clearly undergeared in the lower gears, as first is only good for around 48mph, and even in top I keep reaching for seventh. Despite the fact first gear is very low, I doubt it will wheelie off the throttle in first like the Hornet does (even after 85,000 miles!).

I can confirm that the GPS-certified top speed is 118mph. A bit disappointing perhaps but whilst it hasn’t got the high revs kick of the Hornet, that wasn’t the problem – it simply ran out of revs and into the red line.

I might try a one tooth over front sprocket at some point soon (as I’m not bothered about the wheelies!) which would likely give it more mph in the first to stop take-offs sounding so busy, more flexible intermediate gears without affecting drive and overtaking ability, a higher top speed and a few less gear changes. My guess is that it might improve the top speed to around 125mph.

Away from the track and back on the road, fuel consumption is running at mid-50s with low 60s on a steady drone at motorway speeds. The tank turns out to be 17 litres which is 3.7 imperial gallons. The fuel gauge is reasonably progressive and ticks down in little LCD blocks, till the final block starts flashing. At this point, the trip resets itself to show ‘F TRIP’ and starts counting up from zero. There’s about 30 miles in the “reserve” but not a lot more – it took 16.5 litres at that point! I like to know how far reserve will go.

The fairing works better than my Hornet’s, but the bars are too wide and not so comfortably angled. They are too flat and not pulled back enough at the grips and on the long run to the Dordogne gave me aching thumbs that meant I had to rest them on top of the grips. I might do something about that too.

My first thoughts about the mirrors were right – they are too wide too, and I have pulled them back on the stems as far as they will go. I also notice the extra weight over the Hornet when moving the two bikes around – it’s a shame Yamaha didn’t make an effort to keep the weight down.

Whilst the suspension is better than the Hornet on smooth roads, on the road the characteristics I noted on the track means it kicks back a bit on bumps. I suspect the too-hard compression damping disguises a too-soft spring, which would appear to be confirmed by the amount it sags when carrying a passenger. Whilst it never threatens to get out of hand, a better rear shock would be a definite upgrade.

I suspect the rear Dunlop Roadsmart might also have a hand in the suspension harshness as I don’t remember the problem being so pronounced on the Bridgestone-shod version I rode last year.

However, unlike the bike fitted with Bridgestones I rode last year, this particular machine works far better on the Dunlops with a nice smooth, progressive roll into corners and easy to ride at low speed, whilst the Bridgestones were nasty and tippy. The Dunlop downsides are that they have worn disappointingly fast and the rear tyre tramlines badly too.

Apparently the Americans get a funky split seat with height-adjustable front section on their US-market version whilst we have to make do with a boring (and heavy!) dual seat.

There’s a nice alloy rack from Yamaha that complements the styling too, and I’ve found a german company supplying a rather nice metal bracket that replaces the rear plastic gubbins the number plate hangs on with something just as functional but more aesthetically pleasing.

So is it worth spending cash on?

Well, if you accept that three figure speeds on the road are a no-no, and if you can live with the stigma of a “girlie bike”, it’s actually got a lot going for it. It would make a very good commuter that’s still fun to ride, and it would make an excellent budget tourer with some hard luggage.

About Kevin Williams / Survival Skills

Motorcycle trainer, motorcycle author, motorcycle safety consultant, motorcycle forum moderator, former courier and ever a recreational rider. Is there a common theme here?

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Yamaha XJ6 Diversion – 3000 miles on

  1. Re-read 🙂 I didn’t say I think it’s a ‘girlie bike’, it’s the perception that many riders have of middleweight motorcycles. My own conclusions after owning an XJ6 match everything you say. My only criticism is that it’s 25kg too heavy. Apart from that, all that’s missing is an excess of power we never use!

    Posted by Kevin Williams / Survival Skills | September 14, 2013, 1:20 pm
  2. Hmmm, “girlie bike” you say? How about, “excellent low cost commuter, ridiculously cheap to run, knee and peg down if you fancy it, real world everyday motorcycle.” Not that I’ve got one or anything…..honest!

    Posted by Scotty. | September 12, 2013, 11:08 am
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