THE Diversion feels like an old friend. The faithful sort that knows just what you need, when you need it. It doesn’t need expensive technology or to shout about how cool it is. There is no pretence; just honesty – and its integrity is what keeps the Diversion competitive in the middleweight market.
The original 1992 Diversion was on the dull side of practical and Yamaha was arguably taking a gamble on re-using the name as it had become synonymous with a worthy but tepid motorcycle. But the latter version, introduced in 2009 to replace the FZ6, gave a new, more positive meaning to the name.
I lived with an XJ6 Diversion F during 2010, and by the end of that year, I’d learnt that it’s truly versatile with a very low seat, is more than capable of doing serious distance, has nimble handling that’s barely affected by over-packed panniers, and the suspension is fine, albeit built to a budget.
It offers a smooth, reliable and constant power delivery. If the “Divvy” had arms, it’d wrap them around you in a protective, reassuring hug, loosening its hold as you gain experience and confidence. It’s the ideal novice bike.
As long as you’re not too tall, that is. The seat height is significantly lower than those of its nearest rivals. That’s fine if you’ve got short legs, but otherwise prepare for your knees to rest higher than your hips. But that’s the only notable downside and it can be sorted with an aftermarket solution.
The footpeg vibrations tickle the soles of your feet even through heavy winter boots if you nail the throttle in the first three gears, but show a little more consideration by changing up earlier and the buzzing disappears.
The Divvy looks trendy and modern without being overly fashion- conscious and has practical elements such as useful pillion grab rails that double as bungee hooks and a centre stand – which never proves a problem for ground clearance unless you’re riding on track, or perhaps pretending you are. The dash is clear and uncomplicated, albeit lacking a gear indicator.
Essentially, the Diversion is a very cleverly-planned compromise, especially compared to its close rivals, the Suzuki GSX650 FA and Kawasaki’s ER6-F ABS. The engine may churn out 7hp less than the Suzuki, but the Yamaha weighs 23kg less so the power difference is in real terms irrelevant.
A zippy little thing, its mirrors aren’t as stylish as the Kawasaki’s but they’re far more effective, and although they’re exactly the same shape as the Suzuki’s they don’t look anywhere near as dated thanks to the Diversion’s generally sharper design. But the real appeal is how this bike behaves. It has such an ease about it, whether you’re diving into bends at speed or pottering through a village.
The engine is versatile enough for lazy riders and yet it’s fizzy and excitable in the midrange and above. The handling is neutral and natural, slow speed manoeuvres are totally effortless and flicking through bends feels spontaneous. Although the Diversion’s engine delights in a sporty chase, the suspension clearly has its limitations. It’s softness is cushioning and welcoming on our normal, badly surfaced roads, but riding with a little more vigour is the only time the Divvy starts to feel like a budget bike.
This is a tidy, complete and competent middleweight motor. It’s the bike I’d choose for scratching around town or commuting in traffic. It’s just so tractable and polite, a proper little battler – and as likeable as ever.
MODEL Yamaha XJ6 Diversion F
ENGINE 599cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder
POWER 77bhp @ 10,000rpm
TORQUE 44 lb ft @ 8,000rpm
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, chain drive
KERB WEIGHT 222kg