The Yamaha FZR600 Genesis when introduced in 1989 was considered the best 600cc Sportsbike on the market. It’s reign wouldn’t last forever as Kawasaki and Honda each were to soon supersede the bike’s specs with their own offerings.
However, it still retains a certain hold over riders today, with several generations spanning it’s 10 years in production, the motorcycle has a loyal fan base to date.
So let’s see how it all started.
History of the Yamaha FZR600
The FZR600 Genesis first came to market in 1989 and the bike remained pretty much the same until the end of 1993, which saw a new upgraded version hit the streets for the ‘94 model year.
The bike was predominantly built on the back of Yamaha being acutely aware of Honda’s success winning AMA Supersport races. Winning races and getting coverage of the bikes meant more units would sell and along with Suzuki and Kawasaki, Yamaha wanted in on the action.
The 89HP (or 91HP depending who you ask) and 65Nm of torque came out of the 599 cc, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, inline 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve (4 per cylinder), engine.
The bike used the FZR400 chassis as a base. The FZR400 had a solid reputation and was one of the best handling motorcycles of the 80s so Yamaha hoped to capitalise off this with the FZR600 Genesis.
The steel Deltabox frame and swingarm was essentially the same as the 400 with the main difference being it was steel instead of an alloy one.
The Genesis engine was slanted forward in the frame like the FZ750. The bike had a monoshock and 38mm forks. Despite being a heavy steel frame, the weight was distributed nicely across the bike which continued the FZR legacy of exceptional handling.
Up until 1994 the motorcycle remained unchanged with the exception of a change of headlight, 4-pot brake calipers added instead of 2, a wider rear tire, and new paint schemes for each model year.
Many models and all those sold in California, U.S came with an EXUP valve system. The EXUP valve maintains high back pressure and low RPM’s and then opens fully at high RPM’s. What this means for riders is the bike maintains an excellent midrange without sacrificing the top end.
By ‘93 Yamaha needed to revamp the bike to keep up with the competition so it built a new shorter-stroke engine that now claimed 98HP. It had a compression ratio of 12:1 which was made possible by a shallow valve angle of 36°. The chassis was also new, but not all that different from the original.
By 1994 for the U.S the bike was known as the YZF600, and by 1999 the YZF-R6 or more commonly known R6 would take over from the FZR and it was the end of an era.
The FZR600 Genesis without a doubt introduced many would-be racers to the track and elevated the popularity of Japanese manufacturers in the world of Supersport racing.
Without the FZR600 the R6 probably wouldn’t have existed, and can anyone really imagine the world without an R6 motorcycle? I can’t, especially like my favourite in the black and gold paint scheme.
Yamaha got John Kocinski on board for their race team and with some cajoling persuaded him to race the FZR600 at Daytona. Production bike racing was relatively new as a concept and it really showed a riders skill as many of the bikes were equal in spec.
Kocinski quickly grew into the role on the FZR600 and enjoyed showing off his riding skills as he was now being appreciated for his abilities rather than the bikes.
For the 1989 race (the first year of production for the FZR600) 9/10 top finishers were riding Yamaha’s and Kocinski won the race on the FZR600. Yamaha’s foray into Supersport racing was a raging success.
The FZR600 was the motorcycle of choice for amateur racers but above all else it was the best roadworthy sportsbike on the market.
The one complaint about the FZR600 was the under dampened rear shock and fork springs that felt a bit soft. Several manufacturers spotted an aftermarket need to address this and so it became an easy and reasonably cheap fix for owners.
In 1992 Yamaha released a special edition of the FZR600. It celebrated their partnership with Vance & Hines in the AMA Supersport (600 Class). Each of the approximate 600 produced had a special paint job with Vance & Hines decals, and a Vance & Hines exhaust system.
The bikes were completely stock performance wise with the exception of the exhaust and there wasn’t much difference in pricing. The big draw for buyers was the stand out special paint scheme.
Finding The Right Yamaha FZR600 For Sale
The Bike Market website for those looking to buy an FZR600 in the U.K suggests prices varying from £1,500-£3,500, the variants being model year and whether a private or dealer sale.
MCN has a few FZR600 listed for sale and there is a particularly nice 1994 version for sale on the higher end of the price range at £3,499.
In the U.S you can expect to be paying between $4,000-$5,000. Cycle Trader has one example up for sale that is clean and is priced at $4,699. With that said there is a current advert on Craigslist advertising an example for $1,950 in Thousand Oaks, California.
Restoring a Yamaha FZR600 Genesis
If you are in the U.K you won’t struggle for FZR parts for your restoration project. There are plenty around and they are cheap. Neither will you struggle to find the initial donor bike either.
Fowlers Parts is a great site for UK buyers who will be able to find a range of parts for all model years available.
eBay for the U.S is littered with parts for the Yamaha FZR600 Genesis from all model years and all are fairly priced too. Some examples are as below:
- $69.99 Front Brake Master Cylinder
- $53 Headlight
- $84 Crash Protectors
- $38 Brake Lines
- $89 Rear Wheel
- $32 Gas Tank
- $59 Seat
- $537 Engine
Where you may come unstuck in the U.S is finding the project bike to start with, they are few and far between, so you will need to bide your time to find the right one to suit you.
Is the FZR600 Genesis a good investment?
If you have £2,000-£2,500 in your pocket and you want an early sportsbike to have some fun on, that has excellent handling and adequate power, plus cool styling then you could do a lot worse than spending your money on a Yamaha FZR600 Genesis.
From a 1980s classic motorcycle investment point of view, it’s not really going to happen with the Yamaha FZR600. You could buy one, ride it and perhaps sell it without a loss but that is about as good as it gets.
While partial to the later R6 I have to say I do like the Yamaha FZR600. The late 80’s/early 90’s paint schemes are super cool and they ooze with nostalgia.
The Yamaha FZR600 is a no nonsense machine, built for the road and to take to the track and test your limits. Not sure what else you need out of a bike to be honest.