Posted On 26 Mar 2024
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This entry is part 12 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#26



Back in 1998, Yamaha gave the world the amazingly fast YZF-R1. Until then, Honda’s Fireblade had been the bike to be on, but the light weight combined with the bulk power of the new R1offered something the world hadn’t ever been able to buy off the showroom floor.

Roll on through the years; Yamaha proved the might of the R1 across racetracks worldwide and made many significant changes to the bike, the most significant being the crossplane crankshaft engine – a feature taken direct from MotoGP.

Despite its racing success, the R1 was always a sports bike made for the road.

Now, with the release of the 2015 model YZF-R1 and YZF-R1 M, Yamaha is setting a new course with the legendary name. The latest R1s are track bikes with lights and a numberplate. In my opinion these two are the most track focused sports bikes ever to be released. Yamaha agrees; the factory calls them “production racers”, yep, good explanation.

We attended the world launch held at Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) to see just how good these two new bikes are.

The new R1 and R1-M both feature many electronic aids, most of them directly from the 2012 model YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. Yes, this is as close as you’ll get to experiencing an actual MotoGP bike off the showroom floor.

Let me run you through this a-maze-ment of electronics…

To start off, the R1 and R1-M are the first production bikes to use a 6-axis IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). This measures pitch, roll and yaw via a gyro sensor; then you have forward-backward, up-down and right-left measured via a G-sensor, which takes into account all the algorithms needed to make the electronics work best – ultimately making a much faster motorcycle for the rider.

Nine levels of traction control are available. I ended up using level 2 so I could spin up the rear tyre a bit coming out of corners, without things getting too far out of hand. You also get slide control. Of the four settings available (3 + off), I used level 2. This was most noticeable cranked right over and getting on the throttle hard. You could accelerate much faster, rather than having to back off, or keep a steady throttle position until you got out of the slide.

You get lift control. Again, four settings (3 + off) and I preferred this one to be off.

I found the system a little too interactive;

Stuart is wearing a Shark Race-R Pro Carbon helmet, Berik Factor CE suit, Forcefi eld Blade back protector, Held Chikara gloves and Alpinestars Supertech R boots.

The men behind the bike/s!

I prefer to carry the front wheel out of a corner when it starts to lift.

The R1 and R1-M are the first bikes I’ve ridden with different levels of quickshift.

Two levels and off are available. I have no idea why you’d turn it off, and I liked level1 – the most sensitive level, requiring little lever action to get the next gear. Level 2 was similar to a number of other quickshifters available on current bikes.

You also get launch control. Not really a road going feature that you’d use, but for the racers – a perfect thing to have.

The Unified Braking System (UBS) is also a new thing for a bike like this. It applies a bit of rear brake depending on front brake lever input. We didn’t get to use this as we rode US spec bikes with the optional Circuit ECU fitted, which turns off this function as well as the rear ABS, leaving only a circuit spec front ABS setting. I never got this activated and we were told that if we were able to get it activated, we’d have been doing something seriously wrong with our riding input.

Four power modes come standard.

I tried levels 1, 2 and 3. Level 4 limits power and is more of a rain mode, or for use if you are not confident with the full power of the engine. Power 3 was good, but a little soft off the bottom end for me, whereas power 1 was a bit too aggressive on treaded tyres. That’s even though the Bridgestone RS10 tyres we were on while riding the R1 were a race spec version. For the R1-M we were on sticky Bridgestone slicks. I still found power 1 spun up the rear tyre a bit too much, whereas Power 2 was bang on the money for fast exits out of corners. It was a touch softer off the bottom end, giving more drive forward.

Through the all new TFT digital dash you have a lot of interactivity with the bike, more so with the R1-M with its electronic Ohlins suspension. Yamaha provides what it calls Yamaha Ride Control. You get four grouped presets, and you can set up each one to your liking or just leave the factory settings in place, switching between the four of them as required. The changes you can make are to the power, traction, slide, lift, quickshift and launch controls.

Housed in the all-new frame is an all-new engine. It’s still an inline four, 998cc in capacity and with a crossplane crank (now with 20% less inertia), but that is where most of the similarity ends. Bore and stroke have been changed, the offset of the pistons has been changed, there’s more compression, a 33mm narrower crank, 24% larger airbox with ram air from the channel through the steering head, 20% shorter funnel length of the intake than the 2014 model, 12 hole injectors which are much straighter than before, firing more fuel directly onto the valve. There are new camshafts and Yamaha has changed to rocker arm valve actuation. This allows for higher valve lift, decreased load on the engine and more stability at high rpm within the engine. New pistons are 1mm bigger in bore size, but they are each 8.5 grams lighter.

Connected to the pistons is another first for a production motorcycle – fracture split titanium conrods. Not only are they 40% lighter than steel rods, they are also much stronger, giving less deformation at high rpm.

And, keeping all of this in tip top condition, there is a new lubrication system. A number of magnesium parts are also featured on the external parts of the engine, as are aluminium bolts throughout. Overall, this new engine is 4kg lighter than previously.

So, you’ll be asking with all this information about the new engine in your head, how’s it go, mate?

Ballistic acceleration is probably the easiest way to put it. Combine the characteristics of a powerful V-twin engine’s low to midrange performance with an inline four cylinder engine’s mid to high performance and you get the new R1 powerplant. Other engines might be stronger in one part of the rev range. This new engine is arm-wrenching from the word go, right up to the rev limiter. I’ve never experienced arm-zapping G forces like this bike’s, not only in acceleration, but braking as well.

Yamaha has gone back to a conventional four piston 108mm bolt pitch caliper; racers can change to more expensive calipers if needed.

Larger 320mm discs (2014’s were 310mm) are used and braided steel brake lines come standard. Loads of power and feel is what you get. Again, the extreme G forces from the bike are a thrill to experience – the new R1 and R1-M are addictive!

The all-new frame keeps the wet weight of the entire bike to 199kg, which is just amazing. Yamaha has used its experience with the M1 MotoGP bike and transformed that into these bikes. The result is a solid feeling front end and 600 supersport lightness. The R1 gets KYB forks and rear shock, while the R1-M features electronic Ohlins. The R1 needed a couple of adjustments for a bloke my size, but once they were made, boy, it was like the frame was talking to me.

You could tell what was happening with plenty of reaction time if things stepped out too far (with the electronics off).

The R1-M with its Ohlins suspension is just amazing – well worth the extra coin in case you were wondering. It has an Auto mode that adjusts the suspension based on the type of riding it detects. I had a tiny bit more preload wound into the bike after my first session and left it on Auto mode, which made the R1-M such an awesome and damn fast bike to ride. You adjust the Ohlins through the dash, or you can do it through a tablet or smartphone and upload the settings to the bike. 32 steps of adjustment for both front and rear compression, and front and rear rebound will keep you busy!

Both bikes have aluminium fuel tanks.

On the M version the tank is left bare in a brushed state (with a clear coat over the top). This looks very “racerish” and exclusive. Other noticeable styling features are the new fairing and higher screen. I found I could get under the screen (a bit) which is not bad for someone my height (195cm). Yamaha has also made the R1 and R1-M more roomy. There’s 55mm more reach to the bars and 10mm more room to the pegs.

This allows you to change your body position more freely, which is great for us “bigger” fellas and perfect for shorter riders.

Accessories are race focused as you would expect, but the Akrapovic exhaust, Endurance screen and Giles Tooling rearsets would be high on my list.

There is so much to absorb with the new Yamaha R1 and R1-M. If you take anything away from what I’ve been rattling on about here, know that these are the fastest production motorcycles we’ve ever tested. The Ohlins of the R1-M is worth the money for what it does for your riding, but if you want to be the envy of all your mates and/or carve it up on track days – either one of these bikes is the one to be on!

Round black things

Bridgestone tyres were used during the launch, and Bridgestone debuted its new RS10 sports tyre. This tyre is standard equipment on both bikes and is available in two versions, the RS10 and the RS10 Type R. Both tyres are a race orientated tyre, with the standard RS10 also having some sport focus. I used the Type R on the R1 for the first three sessions, sharing a bike with an American journalist, who also did three 20min sessions on the same tyres/bike. It wasn’t until the last couple of laps (and well past their use by date) of my last session that they got slippery – that’s a full two hours of flogging the same tyres!

The RS10 Type R tyre is very consistent in its performance and stable. Grip is outstanding and I found I could push the front very hard into corners on the brakes without any sliding. Bridgestone says that this new tyre is less affected by heat and no matter how much the tyre was spun up out of corners, it stayed consistent.

Overall, a very impressive track day and serious sporty road tyre. Check a set out with your local tyre dealer.



PRICE: $23,499, $29,999 (plus on-road charges)
WARRANTY: Two years, unlimited distance
SERVICING INTERVALS: Every 10,000km or 12 months
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled inline four cylinder, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
BORE x STROKE: 79 x 50.9mm
POWER: 147.1kW @ 13,000rpm
TORQUE: 112.4Nm @ 11,500rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed, wet multi plate slipper clutch, chain fi nal drive
SUSPENSION: Front, 43mm inverted fork, adjustable preload, compression and rebound (electronic on R1-M), travel 120mm. Rear, monoshock, adjustable preload, compression and rebound (electronic on R1-M),travel 120mm.
DIMENSIONS: Seat height 855mm, weight 199kg (wet), fuel capacity 17 litres, wheelbase 1405mm
TYRES: Front, 120/70/ZR17. Rear, 190/55/ZR17 (R1) – 200/55/ZR17 (R1-M)
FRAME: Diamond
BRAKES: Front, twin 320mm discs with radial mount four-piston ABS calipers. Rear, 220mm disc, single-piston ABS caliper.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: N/A, premium unleaded
COLOURS: R1 – Team Yamaha Blue/Matte Silver, Raven, Rapid Red/Pearl White, R1-M – Carbon

About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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