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Graves Yamaha R6 Test

Monday, December 22, 2008
The ultimate middleweight supersport  Ben Bostrom s Graves Yamaha proved itself on the 2008 AMA Supersport series  delivering a number-1 plate.
The ultimate middleweight supersport? Ben Bostrom's Graves Yamaha proved itself on the 2008 AMA Supersport series, delivering a number-1 plate.
Almost Cheating?

Ben Bostrom is an extremely gifted racer. If things are going his way, he is arguably one of the most talented all-around riders in the United States, maybe even the world (remember his one-off ride to win the inaugural AMA Supermoto Championship or those five-straight World Superbike wins?). His AMA Supersport Championship-dominating Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6, though, may be even more talented than Ben himself. Or at least equally so. That is, if ridden correctly.

This epiphany came to me, smack in the face, as I tucked in behind Bostrom’s younger teammate Josh Herrin, for what was supposed to be a few “easy” laps to get some video footage. Quickly this turned into a spirited run at nearly two seconds faster per lap than I had ever turned around Streets of Willow, and reportedly not far off the 600cc and even outright lap records. Did I mention the track’s condition was quite sub-par, looking like a dirt-filled parking lot, with temperatures hovering slightly above freezing? The seconds literally fell off lap after lap, like cookie crumbles from my hands, almost as if the Graves machine could somehow suspend the laws of gravity. A big part of this Newtonian bitch slap was Herrin’s tow, as it helped show me just how hard the bike strives to be pushed. Still, no matter what I threw at the trusty little Yamaha, it simply smiled at me, as if to say, “That’s all you’ve got?”

"A warning sticker on the tank should read: 'Not to be ridden at anything less than 110%, otherwise possible damage to one’s rear-end and ego may result.'”

Flicking the Graves Yamaha on its side is not an issue. The hard part is riding up to the racebike s true potential.
Flicking the Graves Yamaha on its side is not an issue. The hard part is riding up to the racebike's true potential.
The speed which Graves Motorsports has managed to extract from the Yamaha R6 this year is no secret to those of us who follow road racing in the United States. And we’ve all heard Bostrom rave about the “awesome little bike” repeatedly, while essentially dominating what is typically an un-dominate-able class. Supersport racing is most commonly akin to multi-rider groups and trading paint, but this year Benny Boy put on a riding clinic for the first three-quarters of the season, then set it on cruise control at the end to wrap up what looked to be an “easy” championship.

When’s the last time that happened? Not recently, that’s for sure. But neither “awesome” nor “easy” were the words I had running though my mind when I first threw a leg over the Supersport – not at all. At less than full tilt, the seat is extremely uncomfortable, the suspension feels as stiff as a board, the footpegs are uncomfortably high, and the throttle response is so snappy it’s almost too good. Granted, having spent the past six or so months riding solely street bikes, it look some time to get my head around the path behind this race machine – that path being Hardcore Street. A warning sticker on the tank should read: “Not to be ridden at anything less than 110%, otherwise possible damage to one’s rear-end and ego may result.”

Purebred Racer

When you ride a stripped-down, purebred racer like this you get back to what motorcycle racing is all about; the noises, the vibrations, the feel. It really puts the rider in touch with what is going on underneath him or her, making for a much more visceral experience.

At speed it quickly became apparent that no matter how much I could throw at the middleweight racer, it’s not enough. Try and try, the R6 would do no wrong. And therein lies the beauty of it. The bike pushes you to push it harder, strives to be thrown into the corner with more aggression, begs to have the throttle opened sooner. Bostrom himself had
similar feelings after riding the Graves R6 for the first time and, like me (of course, much more so), was instantly fast on the R6 with ease.

AMA rising star Josh Herrin pulled us along for our fastest laps ever around the Streets of Willow circuit.
AMA rising star Josh Herrin pulled us along for our fastest laps ever around the Streets of Willow circuit.
“The first time Ben rode Herrin’s bike last year at a few tests he was instantly half-a-second faster than Herrin, within two or three laps,” said Ollie Hutchinson, Bostrom’s crew chief. “Right away he was fast, so we knew the potential was there, but consistency was the question mark.”

“That little bike is amazing,” Bostrom added. “Right from the first time I rode Herrin’s bike, it was just so easy to go fast. It was hard there at the end of the season, not racing for the win. The bike was telling me to ride harder and go win the race, but I needed to hang back and be smart for the championship; that little bike just wants to win.”

Head tucked behind the windscreen, pushing to the point of exhaustion to keep on Herrin’s backside, I could see exactly what Bostrom was talking about. The limits of this motorcycle are truly remarkable and it takes some serious mental coaxing to grasp them, especially with visions of a $50,000 R6 tumbling down the road in the back of your mind. They are so far beyond that of even the best street bike’s capabilities that I was constantly mentally pushing myself into territory I haven’t recently charted. While this isn’t totally new – I raced a very fast 600 in the Daytona 200 this past March – it’s amazing how quickly one forgets.

Steel-braided lines assist mostly stock brakes required by Supersport rules.
Steel-braided lines assist mostly stock brakes required by Supersport rules.
Sitting high suspension-wise for added agility, the bike takes a good deal of speed and lean angle before your knee is dancing with the pavement, far more than a stock street bike. Once at those speeds and slammed on its side, though, stability is impressively high – much more than I would have thought considering its amazing agility – taking quite a large pavement blemish or mindless rider input to get the chassis out of shape.

Braking, while not the most impressive part of the overall package, was more than up to the task of getting the supersport hauled back from warp-speed. Feel and feedback from the front lever is quite high considering Supersport rules demand use of a mostly stock system, with new pads and steel-braided lines. The rear brake’s power felt as if it was purposely detuned, so as to make it much more usable for Bostrom, who is a regular pusher of the back pedal. Clutch action is smooth and seamless, as is the transmission. Shifting both up and down relays a very positive feel to rider, with no doubt as to whether you’re fully in gear. Equally positive is the slipper clutch. While it doesn’t totally limit all back-torque, something I’m sure Bostrom tuned this way, it does make sure nothing funny happens at the back wheel without the rider being fully aware.

Ohlins suspension are top caliber components for the Graves Supersport.
Ohlins suspension are top caliber components for the Graves Supersport.
Chassis stability under extreme braking is one of the few areas where the little blue bike did anything out of the ordinary. Setup this way due to Bostrom’s loose likings, when pushed really hard and extremely late into corner-entry, the rear-end tends to get light, wiggling and squirming, feeling less than settled. But it works for Ben, and he’s the one with the Number-1 plate.

Corner exit, on the other hand, is the complete and utter opposite of entry. Planted rock-solid, the rear Dunlop D211GP rubber grips like flypaper and propels the R6 forward like a scud missile. The little machine begs the rider to open the throttle sooner and sooner, taunting you to try and find the limits of traction. While I was surprisingly unable to find these limits, even at my personal-best pace, Bostrom says when it does break traction, it does so very predictably.

“The bike’s power is great,” Bostrom said. “It pulls great on top, but what is crazy is that is has enough torque to spin the tire when I need it to. I’ve never ridden a 600 I could do that with before. It’s like a mini Superbike.” No doubt, Ben.

In stock trim the YZF-R6 is a heavy hitter in the Supersport class  but with Graves help the R6 may be the best 600 we ve ever ridden.
In stock trim the YZF-R6 is a heavy hitter in the Supersport class, but with Graves help the R6 may be the best 600 we've ever ridden.
No matter the pace, the strength of the 600cc Inline-Four engine is extremely impressive, to say the least. These days all of the factory Supersport race bikes make amazing horsepower for their size, most well over 125 hp at the rear wheel, but most do it all in the last couple thousand rpm before redline. At least those I have previously ridden and
raced did, a few of which have also won Supersport crowns.

The Graves R6, on the other hand, starts pulling strong as low as 10,000 rpm, then really catches stride around 14,000, sounding as if it grabs another gear and hits overdrive, screaming like a crazed banshee, kill in sight. The boost-like kick most likely comes from the YCC-I variable intake, almost reminding me of the V-TEC feel of old Honda engines, but with far more ferocity; this little R6 wants to destroy anything in its path. It will test your sphincter’s fortitude in a way no other 600 can.

The stock Yamaha YZF-R6 is an amazing motorcycle. It won a good number of 2008 middleweight shootouts throughout the industry. But where the stock R6 is two-pairs, the Graves R6 is a royal flush. Easily the best handling, most powerful middleweight Supersport racer we have ever thrown a leg over, the Graves R6 could virtually do no wrong when pushed hard. It is pure motorcycling bliss. 
Videos Our Sponsor
2008 Graves Yamaha YZF - R6 - Bostrom
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Other Yamaha Sportbike Reviews
Cheap Track Yamaha R6 Project - Part I
MotoUSA contributing editor Neale Bayly happens on a lightly crashed 2005 Yamaha R6 - an ideal platform upon which to build into an affordable, real-world trackday bike.
2013 Yamaha YZF-R6 Street Comparison
The 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6 takes on its Supersport rivals on the street in MotoUSA's Supersport Street Comparison.
2013 Yamaha YZF-R6 Supersport Comparison
Yamaha’s racy YZF-R6 chases another win in the tenth edition of our Supersport Shootout.
Yamaha YZF-R6 Dealer Locator
A Graves’ Bike For You?
2009 Graves Yamaha R6
No gimmicks here, Graves Motorsports will build you this exact motorcycle, every nut and bolt.For $40,000, he will hand-deliver you exactly what I rode and exactly what Bostrom took to theSupersport
Championship this year; that’s including the cost of the almost $10,000 motorcycle as well. And if you want to build your own, that’s fine, too. Every single part is being homologated through DMG/AMA to be legal in the Daytona SportBike (or whatever it’s going to be called) class for next year, and will be available for purchase off of Graves’ website, in what is called the ‘Works’ section of the site.

This will have a schematic of the entire motorcycle, with every single part of the machine, all of which you can purchase right there online. And all of which the
Graves team will support at any races they are attending, including the entire AMA Pro Series next season. Pretty cool, if you ask us. So much for the “privateer” excuse now!

For more info go to: www.gravesport.com/works and sign up for access.

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Comments
LuMoX91   January 14, 2014 05:25 AM
Hi, I know the coloring code blue hulls?
corey -Graves R6 Article  August 16, 2009 10:20 PM
i have an 07 r6. i purchased it brand new. as of today i hit 22,000 miles on hit. i have tuned the factory suspension myself, which took a week of trail and error till i got it right, i have a Graves full system titanium exhaust, power commander, and a sprocket and chain conversion, and racing rearsets. from the stock bike to what i have now is a major improvement, u wouldn't believe the difference. man, i love this bike. yes, it is a bit uncomfortable but well worth it for anyone who wants to compete, track or street. at the track my feet sit a little over an inch higher than with stock rear sets, and with my toes on the pegs, they still rub the pavement with force when i'm in full lean. so lean angle is excellent. 1000s just can't seem to shake me off there tail. :) the bike always feels firm and planted. i'd recommend this bike to any hardcore racer out there, but not for the average rider who putt putts on the streets. if your serious about performance, then this is a serious bike. the r6 is just simply the best 600 out there when it comes to racing, and i'm speaking from 22,000 miles of experience on this little speed demon whether it be from on the track or illegaly doing triple the speed limit up in the twisty mountains in southern new mexico.
dave belcher -bought new a 2009 r6.....very dissapointed  August 4, 2009 06:27 AM
days ago i bought the mighty r6 on the 09 plate, i started running her in upto 6,000rpm and managed it fine, coming up to my 105 miles i started going up to 8,000 rpm and boy does this bike vibrate like mad. i went for a 40 mile ride yesturday in the uk to mabelthorpe and ive never ridden a bike so uncomforatble due to this exact problem, i felt the more i pulled on the throttle the more it vibrated , i felt it in the footpegs alot and in the seat.

yes i took it back today to see if they could comment on what it could be, he got on the bike and rid it like he stole in not remembering it was in the run in procedure....i hate these guys.
he said its fine this is how these are....truely dissapointed
Ferdy Aditya -R6 2009  February 4, 2009 06:42 AM
I think it's good choice for new owners or new people want to buy 600 cc motorcycle. But R6 have not enough power than other competitor's, the possitive is R6 have good model (aerodinamics). It's good choice for city sport bikes. "VIVA INDONESIA"
MingMing -normal aftermarket parts?  January 1, 2009 02:56 AM
As this is a story about the experience, I checked the Grave's website on the 2008 R6 spec's. It seems the parts this R6 has are rather pretty normal bolt-on stuff you can buy. We know this is a race bike and would you tell us a little bit more in detail why this bike felt so much different with all the normal aftermarket parts?
Marc -Graves Yamaha R6 Test  December 31, 2008 05:14 AM
Steve, thank you for the article and sharing the experience. I'm from Georgia, a little over an hour away from where Josh Herrin calls home (Dublin, Ga). I'm a track day fanatic (Intermediate), as this is the highest level of riding I can muster at age 40. What I find amazing is the description of talent from this article, that of the racers that ride professionally, that someone of your caliber point out the difficulty in keeping sight of someone like Josh. I've seen Josh come up through the ranks of WERA competition in the Southeast, watching him a few times at different venues, and all the feelings of amazement from witnessing his talent come back with a huge flash! Maybe you can comment, since you've been blessed to witness this national talent? Can you provide the audience what it takes to be competitive at this level? I think that most don't really know and could use the information to fully appreciate the "Ben's" and the "Josh's" at this level.
Kim -Graves R6  December 23, 2008 12:14 PM
I have a question? Do you ever work on your own bikes?
Steve Atlas -RE: this exact motorcycle  December 22, 2008 09:17 PM
To your post I simply say: Amen Brother!
J. -this exact motorcycle  December 22, 2008 05:11 PM
Mr. Atlas, This article, which you were kind enough to bring us, will take many months and dark liquids to recover from. This exact motorcycle. When race motorcycles are available to the undisciplined public, the economy will almost certainly collapse, my fiance will leave, the boss will refuse to pay the STEEP medical bills, the one glimmer of salvation being that the cost of rubber & track time might be enough - barely - to get the economy going, and start the vicious circle again. God help me. God help us all.
Steve Atlas -RE: Graves R6 Article  December 22, 2008 03:26 PM
Vivek - While we see your point as to wanting more technical information about the bike, I'm sure you are smart enough to know that this is the kind of stuff race teams keep secret so as to maintain their competitive advantage. The story was about the experience, not technical details. Also, as you can see in the sidebar, Graves Motorsports lists all of the parts available for the bike on their website, which is only a click away.
Vivek -Graves R6 Article  December 22, 2008 02:16 PM
What a disappointing article! With absolutely no details, you go on and on about how stiff the suspension was! We all know that Ben's bike will be stiff and better than your average street R6 -- now tell us something we don't know -- like what kind of engine work was done. A highly unenjoyable, high level article!