Choosing a middleweight street bike regardless its make these days is not really a taxing affair. With ample of options available through mushrooming motorcycle dealerships throughout the country, it is up to consumers to give the final answer in their quest to purchase what they really want. And we believe that most of the time, Malaysians want something affordable and worthy at the same time. Speaking of those two typical mantras, the 2013 Yamaha XJ6 Diversion and naked seem to fit the bill perfectly.

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2013 Yamaha XJ6 Diversion 016Courtesy of Hong Leong Yamaha, we had the chance to test both of their offerings. The XJ6 Diversion, which was the first to land on our hands, made its mark in the Malaysian market back in 2010, specifically aimed at the Kawasaki ER-6f. The model was updated in May 2013; with a new flasher lens, separate seat handle and two new colours – White and Race Blu offered. The naked, on the other hand, came only in January 2013.

The Diversion variant is half-faired while the naked, formally named simply as XJ6, had some of the plastics taken off. It is easy to appreciate the appearances of these two bikes, which we find lean more on the function side of thing, instead of form. Not to say the XJ6 looks mundane, but our first impression of the bike was that it had a straightforward, utilitarian look; no fancy, useless plastic bits attached to the body, which is a good thing to start with. The simplicity continues on the instrument console, which has an uncluttered layout backed by white LED backlighting making it easy to read at any time of the day. The box-section swingarm is dated but doesn’t interfere visually.

The Diversion we had came in white, which is nice but the new Race Blu colour scheme on the naked version that got us jumping. The matte grey and blue combination wins the coolness factor and makes the bike looks like it came out straight from a spray paint shop rather than the factory. And if we had to say, the naked gets more attention during traffic light stops.

2013 Yamaha XJ6 008

Built on a lightweight tubular frame, the simple-looking XJ6 Diversion offers good ergonomics, something that should be on top of the list when it comes to buying an everyday workhorse. The boffins at Yamaha got the seat, handlebar and foot pegs positioned accurately to provide a really comfortable and commanding riding position, which also comes in handy during low-speed manouevres. Vertically-challenged riders will appreciate the seating position.

2013 Yamaha XJ6 006

Both the Diversion and naked get a detuned 600 cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine derived from the FZ6, of which its internals are revised. The mill is not exactly a rocket due to its modest  76 hp and 60 Nm power figure but it has the willingness to rev high when in demand despite suffering from quite a flat power curve. The bike takes off from stationary quite sluggishly but squeeze the throttle above 3,000 rpm on any gear and the bike will promptly advance without any hesitation, making overtaking other vehicles on the road a breezy affair.

Both bikes are built to be a capable all-rounder but the Diversion naturally operates better on open roads, where it kills the wind to reach more than 170 km/h despite being fitted with a standard windshield. The naked, wearing less plastic bits, struggles to reach the same speed on highways but rides better in the traffic due to its slimmer profile.

2013 Yamaha XJ6 017

Handling is not bad either. Although both feature the same 41 mm forks at the front and monocross suspension at the rear, the naked prevails over the Diversion when it comes to corners. While the Diversion requires more effort to be put through the handlebar to change direction, the naked is more responsive in tackling the bends. Due to its slightly lighter body, the naked flicks into turns confidently with some help from the adequate Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart tyres.

The soft suspension is comfortable and does not kill your bum even on a long journey. It keeps its composure during high-speed manouevres but fails to do the same when bumpy, pothole-infested road comes into the picture. The brakes - two 298 mm discs with two-piston calipers at the front, and a single 245 mm with single-piston caliper disc down the rear – proved to be worthy when we took the bike up and down the infamous Genting road. Only thing lacking is ABS, which should be made available like other markets.

2013 Yamaha XJ6 024

A week with both machines has come down to this; the XJ6 (in both Diversion and naked forms) is a well-built street bike that settles down in the typical hustle and bustle of a big city easily yet has the ability to tear up the tarmac every weekend. An excellent combination of attractive appearance, rider-friendly chassis and zippy engine justifies the XJ6 as a worthy middleweight bike. And we’d think the word ‘affordable’ fits just right for the RM39,500 (Diversion) and RM38,500 (naked) price tags.

 

2013 Yamaha XJ6 Naked & Diversion Specs
Price RM38,500 & RM39,500
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-Valve
Displacement 600 cc
Power 76 hp @ 10,000 rpm
Torque 59.7 Nm @ 8,500 rpm
Gearbox Constant mesh 6-Speed
Clutch Wet, multiple disc
Kerb Mass 205 kg
Frame Diamond
Front Suspension Telescopic
Rear Suspension Swingarm
Wheelbase 1,440 mm
Seat Height 785 mm
Fuel Capacity 17 Litres
Tyres 120/70 ZR17 (F), 160/60 ZR17 (R)