The new Yamaha YZF-R1 blew us away when we got our hands on it early last month. It is billed as the Superbike of all superbikes and marks its territory in the ground for Yamaha in a resurgent Super Sport markets.
This decline in sports bikes has seen riders favour the more ambiguous style of adventure bikes and other less performance-based alternatives. The traditional Japanese business ethics would of previously abandoned this area of motorcycle sports, however, Yamaha returns in fine form with the YZF-R1
For those wishing to emulate the Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi the YZF-R1 comes as close as you can get to the M1 version of the Moto GP racer. The research carried out by Yamaha indicated that enthusiasts within the motorcycle market continued to buy super sport bikes although overall sales were shown to have declined. This would be supported around the weekends in the UK when enthusiastic hard-core riders congregate – and a new Superbike in their eyes couldn’t have come at a better time. The shift for Yamaha in the last couple of years from recreational riders to those that wish to use their bike not only on the road but also for circuit performance, means this R1 differs greatly from last years, bears only a slight significance in fact and is much more like the M1 racer ridden bu Rossi.
Similarities with the M1
Weighing in at 199 kg with fuel the YZF-R1 will give you a maximum output of 197 bhp and has a power to weight ratio just slightly higher than that of the BMW S1000 RR. What is most noteworthy about the R1 is that it incorporates the same electronics as Rossi’s M1. Making it the most technologically advanced on the market and on a production bike.
The system employed by Yamaha tracks movements to more than hundred times per second, this is similar to the devices used by the Cassie and BMW. The use accelerometers and gyroscopes for tracking allows for a more refined system, anti wheelie system and a limit on the rear movement experienced by the rider. This is particularly used for sharp hairpin turns or on tricky courses. We spoke with the head engineer at Yamaha who told us that the system was 90% the same as the M1 equivalent.
the R1 has a 998cc, 16 valve, four-cylinder engine, which uses Yamaha’s painted tuning system, meaning it covers a higher compression ratio and lets the bikes operating system add 18 bhp compared to the previous model. Overall the bike is lighter and feels it’s. On our test rides each of the riders noted the difference compared to last year’s model. The distinctive deep throated exhaust delivers a higher rev and torque delivery overall.
As you clamber onto the R1 you will find that it is slightly larger and the seats is not as thickly padded, however there is no doubt that this is a highly tuned and thought out machine. The settings and control of the bikes and varied and unique, or controlled by a front digital panel display. the settings are controlled either via the screen or through controls on the handlebars. Although these very controls could be overwhelming for the user, Yamaha has done a great job at simplifying lots of options and not overwhelming the rider.
Of course this bike is a beast to ride, breathtakingly fast, combining acceleration and response times to produce an aggressive yet controllable power we haven’t seen in a road/race bike for some time.
The power peaks for the R1 at 13,500 rpm however the engine is surprisingly flexible and would be perfectly happy at lower speeds
The settings on the bike are all adjustable meaning that you can adjust for either road or track and even weather. This also allows for less experienced riders and seasoned bikers to experience their level of comfort. The gearboxes smooth and fast shifter does however lack the downshift capabilities of the BMW the Ducati counterparts, this is however a slight negative on what is a very good bike. The R1 is a very versatile bike when it comes to adjusting to rider capability.
Of course this is a top of the line Superbike machine, if you are of the road bike variety and wish to simply use this for your daily commutes, I would say you are perhaps wasting your time. If however, like me you like to get down to the track every now and then and wish to have a road/race bikes to use on both this could very well be the bike you. The more aggressive position the R1 takes when riding means it has smaller fuel tank and wheel base.
Coming in at just under £15,000 the Yamaha YZF-R1 is competitively priced alongside the other road race counterparts and it remains to be seen how well it will be received. We found it to be a focussed and lightning fast ride, but did lack some features found on other similarly priced bikes.