Showdown: Yamaha YZF-R1 vs YZF-R6



The R1 and R6 are two of Yamaha’s most popular sport bikes, representing the heavyweight and middleweight classes respectively. While they’re very similar in their powerful, speed-oriented designs, they also have some differences that make each one appropriate for different riders.

If you’re trying to decide between the two models, this comparison of the YZF-R1 vs the YZF-R6 will help you decide.


Yamaha YZF-R1

The Yamaha YZF-R1 is considered one of the best Yamaha motorcycles ever made. Breaking into the heavyweight category with a 998cc engine, it still manages to be lightweight, with under 450 pounds of wet weight.

A powerful track bike that’s also available with street-legal features, the R1 has won many motorsport titles. On top of five titles in the Macau Grand Prix between 1999 and 2013, it also took the Superbike World Championship in 2009 and the British Superbike Championship in 2011 and again in 2015.

To understand why this motorcycle dominates the track, just take a look at its specs: 

  • 998cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
  • 448 lbs. curb weight
  • 186 mph top speed
  • 198 hp at 14,300 rpm
  • 41 mpg fuel economy
  • Six-speed multiplate wet clutch
  • Front-inverted fully adjustable fork suspension
  • Rear fully adjustable single shock
  • Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
  • ABS standard


Yamaha YZF-R6

Yamaha released the R6 in 1999 as the supersport version of the YZF600R street bike. Until 2020 it was one of the most race-oriented street-legal bikes on the market, and Yamaha finally made it track-only starting in 2021 due to decreasing demand in the middleweight category. 

While it’s no longer available for use on public roads, it’s an impressive motorcycle for sport use. The middleweight 600cc motor manages over 100 hp of power, the first production motorcycle to do so. Its other specs also reflect its high-speed racing design:

  • 599cc liquid-cooled four-stroke inline-twin engine 
  • 419 lbs. curb weight
  • 139 mph top speed
  • 117 hp at 14,500 rpm
  • 40 mpg fuel economy
  • Six-speed multiplate wet clutch
  • Front-inverted fork suspension
  • Rear four-way adjustable suspension
  • Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes

YZF-R1 vs YZF-R6 Head-to-Head

Even though they’re both in the YZF line, the R1 and R6 fall into different weight classes and have different advantages and disadvantages. To understand which might be the better choice for your needs, consider how they compare in certain aspects of riding.


Winner: YZF-R1

Yamaha YZF-R1 Comfort

Both the R1 and R6 are supersport bikes with aggressive postures, but the R1 is slightly more relaxed and more comfortable for longer rides.

Yamaha has tailored its design over two decades to provide a balance between performance and comfort. On the other hand, the R6 is more compact and race oriented, especially now that it’s track-only. 

Looks and Customization

Winner: YZF-R6

Looks are subjective, but if you’re in the market for one of these two bikes, you likely prefer a sleek, sport-bike aesthetic. In that case, the R6, with its sharp lines and aggressive profile, makes a more profound visual statement. The R1 has a more mild appearance.

As for customization, both motorcycles have been on the market for a long time and have plenty of aftermarket parts. That said, because of the R6’s popularity with track enthusiasts, there’s a bit more variety for customization possibilities. 


Winner: YZF-R6

Yamaha YZF-R6

The 2023 R1 has an MSRP of $17,999. The 2023 YZF-R6 RACE has an MSRP of $12,699. Older street-legal models are usually even less expensive. In other words, the R6 simply costs less.

Nevertheless, when you consider the price per cubic centimeter of engine displacement, the R1 is actually cheaper. At the end of the day, both bikes are good value for their speed and power.


Winner: YZF-R1

The R1 has an advanced electronic system, superior traction control, slide control, and front-wheel lift control. Yamaha engineered its lightweight chassis for optimal weight distribution and stability at high speeds.

Of course, as a track-oriented race bike, the R6 has incredible handling as well. Yet as a larger, more technologically advanced motorcycle, the R1 narrowly edges it out.

Speed and Power

Winner: YZF-R1

Yamaha YZF-R1 Speed

As part of the same YZF line, the R1 has a bigger engine with more cylinders. As a result, it simply has more power, reaching nearly 200 hp and 186 mph. The R6 is no weakling, though, hitting 117 hp and 139 mph.

2023 Upgrades for YZF-R1 and YZF-R6

Both the R1 and R6 have been around for a while, and Yamaha has continuously updated them and improved the specs. The last major overhaul for the R1 was in 2015, for the R6 in 2017. The R6 also saw a stripping down in 2021 when it became track-only. On top of these big changes, Yamaha has also made yearly updates.

2023 YZF-R1

Yamaha has consistently improved the R1’s power. The 2023 model can even hit 200 hp with track-only Circuit ECU.

Additionally, Yamaha has given the 2023 R1 new electronic ride-control systems as well as ride-by-wire throttle control. It also has revised brakes and suspension. 

2023 YZF-R6

The 2023 R6, technically the YZF-R6 RACE, does not come with mirrors, turn signals, headlights, or other accessories required to ride on public roads. However, Yamaha increased the power to 118 hp at 14,500 rpm. The strip-down also decreased the weight to 408 pounds.


Both supersport bikes with incredible speed and power for their displacement, the R1 and R6 are nevertheless better suited for different riders needing different things. These are my recommendations:

  • Neither bike is particularly suitable for beginners since they’re both very peaky with high power at high rpm. Nevertheless, the R6 weighs less, so one of the older, more manageable options might be the best choice for learners.
  • For commuting and longer rides, the R1 is a better bet despite its larger size. It’s more relaxed and comfortable over long periods of time.
  • If you’re looking for a track bike, the R6 is entirely focused on racing.
  • If money is an issue, the R6 has a lower sticker price. Nevertheless, the R1 is as good a value for the money, if not better.
  • Wanna go fast? The R1 handily beats out the R6 for speed, reaching 186 mph.

Further reading: Yamaha YZF-R7 vs YZF-R6