2021 was my first MotoAmerica Supersport year racing the 17-20 Yamaha R6. In previous years, I had ridden the 08-15 Yamaha R6 which has different electronics, different front suspension, different bodywork, and more. In 2021, I got on the podium and got Top 5s and overall the 17+ R6 felt much more comfortable for me. The 17-20 R6 is a great overall package and here are my thoughts and things that changed throughout the 2021 MotoAmerica Supersport season.
First off, here is my data from 2021. I had previously given away my data from 2020 and I want to keep this going. At 20 years old, I still have never seen another rider’s data, so if some other kid could use my data to help them develop as a rider, I think that is amazing! I included data from when I got on the MotoAmerica podium and also when I got Top 5 at New Jersey. I picked races to share that were important, not giving away something meaningless like a Free Practice, but actually in important races against other people. I also included a track day at Chuckwalla during pre-season training on my old R6.
Link: Giving My Data Away 2021
We used an AIM Evo 5 system from Superbike Unlimited which worked great! The new R6 has so many more channels than the 08-16 R6 through the ECU.
The biggest thing for me to understand about the 2020 R6 electronics was the wheelie control. Getting used to wheelie control was so weird because we ran a YEC ECU and the wheelie/lift control only works at 100% throttle. If I rolled off the throttle, then the front wheel would be pointed at the sky. But for me, it wasn’t just the front wheel lifting, that would cause me to roll out of it during the first weekend of testing, but feeling like the bike was going to wheelie. Where the front forks would be extending (like it was about to wheelie) but the front wheel was still on the ground, and instinctively, I would start to manage the wheelie but that would turn the wheelie control off. So me starting to manage it, would make the bike wheelie instead of trusting the electronics. Once I fully learned to hold it wide open, it was like a mental switch, and I got it. At certain tracks and times, you can see how my throttle trace would go wide open, instead of modulating it more, and the front wheel didn’t lift. It’s only a 600 so the wheelie wasn’t everywhere, it was only a few specific places across the MotoAmerica calendar. Atlanta is a hard track to program wheelie control just because the track falls away from you in a couple of places, so the bike naturally will want to wheelie and you can’t pull too much power out of the bike for the wheelie, or you start losing acceleration. Turn 11 at The Ridge in Washington was another place that was difficult to program wheelie control.
TC is much harder for me to quantifiably describe and articulate how it felt. Normally, I would start a race in TC mode 2, and then finish in mode 3 or 4, but that was just a feeling with how the bike was sliding and how the bike felt or if it felt like the ECU was pulling too much power out and I couldn’t accelerate properly.
The 17-20 R6 was an incredibly comfortable bike for me to ride. We ran Sharkskinz bodywork and seat tray. The detachable seat tray was crucial for us. We had 3/4 inch risers made for my seat to raise me up and to get my legs in a better position. Using the SharkSkinz seat tray we were able to mount the seat using 4 bolts, instead of having the seat tray fit underneath the gas tank in the front.
My tuck was incredible. I consistently had fast trap speeds, with me being 6’2″ because my tuck is super tight, and the new R6 allows me to get fully tucked in. We ran a Zero Gravity double bubble which worked great. For me, the 17-20 R6 has a much tighter tuck compared to the 08-16 R6.
We ran the front suspension really soft. On the 08-16, we normally ran around 95 in the front. The rear spring we ran the same as the 08-16 R6. But the front springs we ran multiple rates softer. The front forks are ~25 mm longer on the 17-20 compared to the 08-15 so when we ran stiff front springs, the front end was super high during braking, and I couldn’t get the bike to turn into the corner. We had had some people earlier in the season say I needed to run a certain spring rate in my front forks, but it made the bike almost unrideable for me. Way too stiff. Not that it has to be a bad setting, but for me, it was not what I needed. Once we found a setting, we barely changed anything. We left Laguna Seca and only changed gearing for New Jersey Motorsports Park, and then after Race 1 at NJ, we added 2 mm of rear ride height. That’s it.
We started pre-season testing with the OEM upper radiator and running the SharkSkinz lower, which is completely filled in. But we had some issues with heating so we added a lower radiator and cut out the lower to be open. We also ran a radiator shroud which helps with aerodynamics and cooling; you force all of the air through the radiator, instead of air going in random places. We also ran the OEM breather tube that connects the water pump to the back of the cylinder head. We tried running vacuum plugs but we ran the OEM breather tube to eliminate worries of air pockets being stuck in the radiator system.
We also changed our tire warmers and went to CapIt warmers from Superbike Unlimited. The previous warmers we had, didn’t have the heating element go all the way to the edge of the tire. Using the CapIt Warmers, kept the tire temperature consistent with what we had on the track. We also used the Cap It blanket that wrapped around the wheel and warmer to help keep everything contained. I can’t quantifiably say how much they helped, but we liked them. The CapIt warmers themselves were great and glad we changed!
These are the updates I have for my 17-20 Yamaha R6 build, along with giving away my official data once again. I have a couple more articles coming out in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes out!