Yamaha XJ6 Diversion Road Test

Filed under: Bike Reviews,XJ6 Diversion,Yamaha |

Yamaha XJ6 Excellent mirrors and an effective fairing ease motorway commutingTo make the Diversion, Yamaha gave their XJ6 naked a useful half fairing and called it done. It’s a handsome and effective all-rounder sadly compromised by a couple of flaws.

The Diversion is powered by a detuned FZ6-derived 4-cylinder 600. Low-end power and midrange are good and riding in town is a breeze. The delivery is extremely predictable and linear, with power building steadily and with no sudden rush at the top end. Keeping the revs high when pressing on cross-country is pretty entertaining and lets you enjoy the acoustics, and with the 78bhp lump calling to be worked hard to get the best out of it, it’s a blessing that it’s so smooth and enjoyable. While it might not be the case on fast A and B roads, the Diversion feels like it oozes power on the motorway, perhaps the environment in which it shines brightest. I found on this trip through the West Country to Cornwall that 6th gear overtakes are a breeze, making it very easy to dispatch long sections of the M5. With the excellent mirrors almost eliminating your blind spots, it’s very capable in this environment.

Yamaha XJ6 - Thin seat padding harms long-distance ability. Pillion provision isn't too bad with the large grabrail, but many would prefer a strap on the seat to hold onto insteadOn fast country A-roads and B-roads, handling is good, as long you play by its rules. Plan your line, set the bike up properly for the corner and guide it round smoothly on a little throttle. It feels satisfyingly planted and inspires confidence. Try to adjust mid-corner and it all seems to go wrong, there’s a lack of nimbleness caused by its relative heft and budget-conscious suspension, but if it feels a little old-fashioned that’s nothing bad in my book, just character. It’s also the first hint of several that despite some efforts from Yamaha and its position in the budget naked segment, the XJ6 Diversion isn’t really an ideal bike for novices.

With 41mm fork tubes and a monoshock at the rear the suspension looks the part, and while it lacks any adjustment except for preload at the rear, I wouldn’t worry unless you’re particularly heavy. It does the job very well and it’s plush enough for nearly every road. Limitations show eventually but only if you seek out really atrocious tarmac; I had to get back to Kent before I found a section neglected enough to show it up.

The XJ6 Diversion is saddled with very average economy, 45mpg or so, as it’s not a middleweight bike but it has a middleweight engine, which must be kept spinning quickly to provide exciting pace. It’s barely better on fuel than its cousin, the 1000cc FZ1. Range is equally mediocre with the 17ltr tank.

Yamaha XJ6  -Neat packaging allows centre stand and underslung exhaustAt first I found the brakes a little unusual, with initial bite weak but loads of power once properly applied. It takes an hour to get used to them, and then they reveal themselves to be a good match for the package. I never lacked confidence or locked up, even on a particularly wet blast across Exmoor. I haven’t tried it but an ABS version is there for any who’d prefer to have it.

Yamaha XJ6 downpipes are lovely but keep them polished or they'll suffer. Header bolts are vulnerable to corrosionPadstow was totally packed, as I should have expected mid-August. Pushing the Divvy backwards into the only available place to park a bike, it occurred to me that while low-speed handling is very good, the high weight and centre of gravity will make it more daunting to new riders than friendlier bikes. Even pulling up at lights or crawling in traffic is more difficult than on, for instance, a Honda CBF600, and it’s all worse while pushing or paddling it about. Anyone planning on getting a Diversion as their first big bike really ought to think about fitting some of the rather tasty engine bars available, because they will tip it over at some point. The seat at least is narrow and low enough to make it very easy to place feet squarely on the ground, but this does affect the seat’s long distance comfort.

Positioned as a do-everything middleweight at the lower end of the market, the XJ6 gives you everything you’d expect at this level, if not quite a lot more (it even has hazard lights). In addition to the lovely clear analogue tach is a digital dash with a good range of metrics: speed, fuel and engine temperature, as well as a clock and a trip meter. Underneath, neatly packaged around the central underslung exhaust there’s a centre stand, a great feature you don’t find on every bike in this segment. The seat is a piece of cake to remove and replace, and underseat storage is definitely above average. Yamaha say that there’s space for a U-lock, so I’m sure that there is, but I carried a puncture repair kit and a disc lock easily, and in the space left over I might have been able to squeeze in some light waterproofs as well. Even with the key out a red LED blinks every few seconds. Its purpose isn’t clear aside from showing that the battery has some charge, and it’s perhaps intended to make the bike look like it’s alarmed. A smart thief would know that it’s not, but it’s nice to have some deterrent effect.

Yamaha XJ6 dash is excellent, with a proper temperature gauge, clock and crucially, a tach that's easy to read with just a quick glanceComing home via Dorset, the Diversion reveals its character as highly capable of covering distances without drama. The engine vibrations barely intrude, and never enough to become a nuisance. The fairing is excellent for those under 5’10. Some find the reach to the bars a little far, and it does feel further than most, but I think it’s fine and there’s also a little adjustment to try. It could be a good pick for a tour, but only if you keep your daily mileages sensible. The problem is the seat, the weak point in an otherwise well thought-out design. It’s not a torture rack and it’s not the only bike in its class to fall down here, but it still won’t allow the real distance touring the rest of the design encourages. It’s a real shame, because you could smash continents on the Diversion otherwise, but as it is, it’s limited to Sunday rides, commutes, and four-hour riding days, unless you’re prepared to tolerate some kind of silly-looking aftermarket seat cushion.

The XJ6 Diversion is a solid entry in the do-it-all-on-a-sensible-budget category. What exactly does it have that that its competitors don’t? The XJ6 Diversion has good looks, a good range of features, an upright riding position and an excellent fairing. Plenty of mid-range bikes are excellent in town and will help you get your kicks on a weekend, but if you need to be able to effortlessly cover ground as well as the above, the XJ6 Diversion could be the one for you. Just don’t plan on riding it to Dakar.

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Reviewer profile

Age: 30

Weight: 61kg

Height: 5’ 9”

Riding Since: 2008

Review and images by Oliver Platts.