Racing – the ultimate proving ground for man and machine. Having wished to evaluate the racing capabilities of Yamaha’s R6, as tested in the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R6 Modified Comparison and follow-up 2010 Yamaha YZF-R6 Modified Comparison Part II, we slapped on some bodywork and prepped it for road racing. If only it was that easy, or is it…?
Although you might not be able to tell by looking at it, our street camouflaged R6 is actually in an elevated state of tune. In the first stage of the build, Graves Motorsports hit it with a few popular power-up goodies including its full titanium race exhaust system, YEC-kit ECU and Dynojet Power Commander V with optional Dynojet Auto Tune for Power Commander V functionality.
More go-fast parts were installed during the second phase which included Graves’ WORKS Velocity Stacks, Brake Line Kit and replacement hand and foot controls. A Dynojet Quick Shifter was also fitted and Race Tech chipped in with its recently released G3-S shock and 25mm drop-in cartridge fork kit (read more about it in the Race Tech Sportbike Suspension Review). These updates allowed us to achieve respectable lap times at both of Willow Springs’ primary road courses enroute to a third-place finish in the shootout.
This was our ’10 Yamaha YZF-R6 Modified Comparison bike before we started the racing transformation.
The sides of this stock metal bracket needed to be sliced off in order to work with the Sharkskinz race tail.
We were impressed by Sharkskinz high-levels of fit and finish. Here we use its optional fasteners to secure the tail piece onto the subframe.
Graves Motorsports WORKS Progressive Throttle Tube ($85) reduces initial throttle hit before gently ramping up allowing the rider to reach wide open throttle faster.
Most road racing organizations mandate that all motorcycles have critical fasteners to be safety wired in order to prevent them from coming loose on the track.
VP Racing Fuels U4.4 race gas is a simple and affordable way to boost engine performance.
CONTINUING THE BUILD
Converting a street bike into a full-on road racer can be a fairly simple process with the right parts. We began by ordering up a set of bodywork from Florida-based Sharkskinz Racing Bodies. The cool thing about Sharkskinz is that it offers a variety of replacement fairing options for the street or track.
We purchased a front fender, one-piece race upper/lower, race tail (with optional seat support and foam pad, not compatible with OE seat) and draftshield. We opted for a racing-style tail instead of one that utilizes the stock seat because the race tail delivers astronomically higher levels of road and rear suspension feel. The entire set-up cost just over a grand ($1067). However for that price you get a product that is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of outright quality.
The actual construction of each body panel is thicker yet still offers a sufficient amount of flex compared to other bodywork we’ve tested. This is important because it reduces the chance of the bodywork cracking and/or disintegrating in a crash. Having used Sharkskinz bodywork a decade ago when I used to race (and crash) a lot I can attest to its durability. And if it did crack it was likely to be salvageable with a fiberglass patch kit.
Another big plus is how well the bodywork fits and accepts paint (more on that later). Each piece matches up perfectly with the original mounting locations and if the customer requests, Sharkskinz will even pre-drill mounting holes which saves a lot of time and headache during the fitment process. To ensure that our bike looked as “factory” as the Graves AMA racebikes we utilized Graves Motorsports R6 Bodywork Kit ($90) and Graves Motorsports R6 Dzus Bodywork Kit ($80). Though, it’s also worth noting that Sharkskinz also sells aircraft-grade fasteners which we used to attach the tail section and mount the lower to the main fairing.
Installation was plug-and-play easy with the exception of having to slice off the side aluminum flaps on the stock metal bracket that secures the tail section to the subframe. We also had to drill holes into the frame spars and fairing stay in order to use the Graves mounts.
Just when we had everything fitted and secured properly it was time to pull it all off in preparation for paint. When it comes to painting bodywork you have plenty of options but since we’re in love with the paint job on the Graves bikes we decided to copy it. This meant we wouldn’t have to get the fuel tank painted thereby saving some cash. MC Pro Designs out of Escondido, California paints a majority of AMA racebikes including the Graves Team. Turnaround time was five business days quick and the quality of their work is showroom good. Though, some of the credit also has to go to Sharkskinz as its bodywork accepts paint exceptionally well and has minimal prep time.
While the bodywork was getting sprayed we began the final phase of race prep including safety wiring key fasteners and replacing the engine coolant with Redline’s Water Wetter. For folks that don’t have the time or patience for this undertaking, San Diego, Califonia-based Lee’s Cycles can take care of it for a reasonable fee. If you drop off the bike sans bodywork, Lee’s charges just $225 plus the cost of Water Wetter. Work was completed in just a few days and considering how much time we saved, the price was well worth it.
After we got the bodywork back we mounted up a special $89.95 Zero Gravity Double Bubble Windscreen made exclusively for Graves (part no. 17-580B-01) and proceeded to hang the bodywork on the bike. Instead of using the Sharkskinz included seat pad we sourced one from Graves. The Graves Motorsports Yamaha R6 Seat Foam ($99.50) features a special texture and density that is designed to provide just the right amount of grip and movement for the rider and is identical to the piece used by the factory race team. Lastly, we slapped on our vinyl cut race numbers (supplied by MC Pro Designs).
One of the problems encountered with the R6 during the modified Supersport tests was how herky-jerky the throttle felt when twisted mid-corner. So we fitted yet another Graves part, the WORKS Progressive Throttle Tube ($85). Compared to stock it has less hit when you initially crack open the throttle and then ramps up allowing you to achieve wide open throttle more quickly. It’s also made from hard anodized aluminum (the stocker is plastic) so it’s more durable in case of a crash. Installation is simple however it’s important to note that the aluminum stop inside housing needs to be removed (we ground it off with a Dremel tool) in order to achieve full throttle with the replacement part.
After our bike was all dialed in and ready to go, we rolled it onto the scales to see how much weight it lost. We were astonished to find that our bike only weight 364 pounds (tank empty). That’s 26 pounds less than a stock bike. We then filled up the tank with VP Racing Fuels recently re-formulated U4.4 race gas. Compared to pump gas this fuel features a higher oxygenation and octane rating (103) which equates to more power at the rear wheel. It’s also noteworthy how much better the engine seems to “run”. Peak power figures were nearly 119 horsepower at 14,400 rpm and 45.67 lb-ft of torque at 12,300 rpm.
In the next installment of our 2010 Yamaha YZF-R6 Project Bike we’re going to line-up on the racetrack with Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC) and see how the bike performs during a race. Stay tuned.