Wait a second. People are raving about Honda's 599 and it's an F3 engine from the mid to late 90's. As for the YZF, it's basically the same as the 1997 model. Came in last in Sport Rider's 1997 600 comparison. But, and this is an important but to some riders, it was the best streetbike. It had the best wind protection, the best ergo's, the best brakes, the best mid-range, and the best suspension.
And it wasn't that far behind the others on the track. Here's how Sport Rider summed it up: "for the majority of riders out there who desire real-world practicality in their middleweight, the YZF holds most of the cards." Maybe your buddy is a real-world person.