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Sunday, April 19, 2009

YAMAHA YZF R 1

Yamaha’s new R1 is gorgeous. It’s sexy, sharp and looks every bit the serious superbike it is. So does that mean it’s not particularly comfortable or practical in the real world?
Certainly not! A day on the French track of Le Luc and a second day riding the most challenging roads France has to offer, shone some glamorous light on the Japanese one-litre sports bike.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

Firstly, it may be a serious track tool, but it’s also very comfortable on the road. The riding position’s not entirely dissimilar to Suzuki’s GSX-R1000. Unlike Kawasaki’s ZX-10R, there’s relatively little pressure on your wrists and you feel less cramped. On the Kwak, my legs felt as though they were folded in half at the knees. The R1’s performance is outstanding. Since the first model was launched back in 1998, Yamaha has introduced various revisions to ensure the bike can hang with the best in this genre of motorcycle.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

PC Power

The 2007, and fifth generation of the R1, is packed with the latest technology. For example, it has the same YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake) as the R6, with the purpose of ensuring the engine’s maximum performance at both high and low engine speeds. The YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) technology is also onboard and it’s designed to encourage a smooth and instantaneous throttle response. It’s true; the power delivery is very linear without a hint of snatch at low revs (unlike Honda’s CBR1000). But despite all this impressive wizardry, the R1 still has marginally less low and midrange punch than Suzuki’s GSX-R1000.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

Taking the mountain hairpins in second, I snapped the throttle back to fire out towards the next bend. It’s undoubtedly rapid, but less so than the Gixxer. However, the instant that thought had left my brain like an escaping thought bubble; the bike catapulted me forwards, gaining momentum rapidly as the needle swung towards the 13,500rpm red line. The engine feels lively and buzzes like the race bike it is. It’s not uncomfortable by any stretch of the imagination, and the vibrations are subtle, especially compared to the Kawasaki’s. The R1 just feels energetic and literally alive.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

Stop and go

On track, this high-revving characteristic lends itself perfectly to a bike that begs to be caned. And on the road, I’d also consider it nigh on perfect (had I not been jumping from the ultra compliant Suzuki to the Yamaha). The handling is very impressive and reminds me of last year’s telepathic GSX-R. It’s light and easy in slow corners, yet planted and steadfast in high-speed sweepers. Considering I rode both the R1 and GSX-R1000 on Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tyres, the handling of the Yamaha felt, dare I say it, more like the K6 than the K7 did!

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

Of course you will need to stop - eventually. The R1 boasts some of the best brakes in the business. Like the rest of the bike, they’ve been revised for 2007 and are powerful without being unsettling. The slipper clutch also helps to keep things on an even keel should you momentarily forget that in fact you don’t have the skill of a MotoGP rider. The R1 is so naturally fun to ride; it’s a wee bit too easy to get carried away. Thankfully, all the gizmos on board mean you’ve got two brains in operation, yours and the bike’s!

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

In the hot seat

Other alterations for this year include a new chassis and suspension system. These factors only enhance the bike’s performance and the revisions to the styling maintain the bike’s fresh looks. At the front, the twin, four-bulb headlights are angular and sharp. Aesthetically, it has a pointed definition that the new Suzuki now lacks (and that the Kawasaki’s not had for a while!). The new tail unit is tidy, but it is less practical than the Honda and Suzuki. There’s very limited space to attach bungee cords or a cargo net.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

The twin under-seat pipes are encased in a protective housing, but they still generate a fair amount of heat. As does the engine casing and exhaust pipe on the right had side of the bike. After riding for half an hour in the gorgeous southern sun, I noticed my thighs were pretty hot. The bottom line is this. If you were given a free 1000cc Japanese sports bike, you’d be chuffed to scabby ribbons regardless of which one it was. They’re all very, very impressive. What matters is how you like to ride and what you plan to do with that particular bike.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (image © Yamaha)

Verdict

The margin between each is so incredibly small, and yet somehow, they all manage to maintain a sense of individuality and uniqueness, excelling more than the competition in one particular area or another. I enjoyed the R1 on track immensely and on the road, it surprised me with its compliant handling and rider comfort. Of course, you’d expect a bike of this stature to be very good and the R1 doesn’t disappoint, in any way.

World Superbikes winner MSMW2012