Yamaha Discontinuing Icons

May 12th, 2021 by Doran Dal Pra

There are certain motorcycles that have been around for so long, they feel as perennial as the seasons, as steady as the tides. A recent move from Yamaha has changed those tides, however, with news that the YZF-R6 supersport, VMAX power cruiser, and WR250R dirt bike are all being discontinued – sad times!

The reasons for these models getting the axe are pretty simple – ever-increasing emissions regulations and changing market demand. Let’s take a quick look at each of these three models, what they’ve accomplished, and why they’re going away.

YZF-R6

While it seems a little nuts that a motorcycle as accomplished as the R6 would be shown the door, it was the languishing market for Supersport motorcycles and the change from Euro4 regulations to the more stringent Euro5 regulations that caused Yamaha to decided not to pursue the R6. First introduced in 1999, the R6 came to epitomize the 600cc four-cylinder sportbike and has developed into a successful tool for carving up both the track and your local back road. Interesting tidbit – The R6 was the first production 600 to produce over 100 horsepower from the factory.

If your heart breaks at the news of the R6’s demise, fret not… kind of. Yamaha will still sell the R6 in Europe, albeit with a few caveats. The bike will be called the R6 Race and, as you might have guessed, be a track-only model. It will come with a host of go-fast parts including Ohlins suspension, stainless steel brake lines, different front and rear sprockets, and a ton of other GYTR equipment.

VMAX

A power cruiser if there ever was one, the VMAX’s over-the-top styling and straight-line performance defined it for decades. Yamaha has been manufacturing the VMAX for an incredible 35 years, first introducing it way back in 1985. It’s only received a handful of updates and upgrades over the years, but that only meant the bonkers recipe it was built with remained untarnished.

The VMAX was the machine that brought about the muscle/power cruiser genre into the market and is the genesis for machines like the Ducati Diavel and Harley-Davidson V-Rod (R.I.P. V-Rod). Our favorite elements of the VMAX have to be the four-stubby exhaust pipes, two on each side of the bike, and the epic air intakes that look more like submarine missile tubes than places for air to flow to the engine.

And speaking of the engine, the 1,679cc V4 motor was the true beating heart of the VMAX. It produced a claimed 174 horsepower and 112.8 pound-feet of torque in its final iteration, which is on par with most superbikes. The reason why the VMAX met its demise was precisely because of that engine. Rather, the stringent Euro5 regulations that it simply couldn’t meet. That, and its hefty price tag, spelled the end for one of the most iconic machines to come from Yamaha

There have been many motorcycles like the Yamaha VMAX, but none truly like it. Its madness will be sorely missed. 

WR250R

Yamaha has a stable full of terrific dirt-focused machines, and this time around, the WR250R dual-sport didn’t make the cut. A capable motorcycle that looked great, was satisfying to ride, and a favorite for those interested in a machine that could easily handle dirt and pavement, the 250R was a popular, if slightly expensive, choice. Interestingly, the WR250R has only been around since 2008, so the argument that the bike was becoming too long in the tooth isn’t valid, so it likely comes down again to emissions and those pesky Euro5 regulations, and Yamaha looking to freshen up its portfolio.

If this discontinuation hits you particularly hard don’t worry, because there is still a wide range of excellent off-road motorcycles in the Yamaha catalog. Want to shred dirt and don’t care about riding on the road? Take a look at the WR250F, a dirt-focused cross-country machine similar to the WR250R. Looking for a funky dual-sport with spoked wheels that’s happy putting away miles on either the dirt or on the street? The Yamaha XT250 is the bike for you.

Posted in Announcements