Post: Jeff Ware Images: Yamaha
NEW ERA SUPERBIKE
Few bikes have surprised the world's motorcycle press and sportsbike punters with an unveiling as much as the all-new YZF-R1 did. Yamaha kept it under tight wraps, secretly developing an all-new bike with input from the legend himself, Valentino Rossi, as well as AMA hero Josh Hayes. Yamaha had one thing in mind with the concept and development of the new R1 – track focus. This is a racebike built to win. Not a road bike adapted to racing. Nothing has been left in the goal of more power, more speed and lightweight. Make no mistakes – the new YZF-R1 is a pure performance, no compromise expert’s only superbike...
An all-new narrower, lighter, longer stroke 998cc inline four-cylinder engine with a stacked gearbox, magnesium engine covers, titanium fracture-split conrods and a cross-plane crank producing a whopping 200 horsepower - combined with an incredibly lightweight compact all-new chassis that oozes factory superbike quality components such as magnesium forged wheels, central air intake, aluminium fuel tank, lightweight M1 derived fairings and incredible brakes and you have an impressive package. Throw in the most advanced electronics and you have your very own MotoGP bike.
On Friday we headed to Sydney Motorsport Park for the World Press Test of the new YZF-R1. It was a chance to drool over the bikes, meet the team of engineers, designers and test riders responsible for the bike and finally, ride six 30-minute track sessions – three on the standard YZF-R1 model and three on the up-specced M version. The M version features electronic Ohlins suspension, carbon-fibre bodywork, polished swingarm and lots of little special extras. The M Version will retail for just over $29,000 AUD while the stock version will be just under $24,000 + ORC.
First impression of the bike when I walked out to see dozens of them lined up was how compact the bikes are. Sitting on board, the 'bars are low and the seat high - and the top of the fuel tank very low. It's not a riding position I have experienced before. The distance from seat to 'bars and seat to footpegs is roomier than the previous model but the handlebars are low. The seat is wide and comfy. No mirrors so can't comment. The switchgear is sensational with an all-new style of kill/start button and scrolling mouse style menu clicker. The electronic aids are adjusted on the left block.
So what is the bike like to ride? Does it live up to the hype and the specification? The answer is yes – it absolutely does.
Acceleration is stunning - seat of the pants dyno it feels like a genuine 190 rear wheel horsepower bike. But it is not the power; it is the rapid acceleration thanks to high compression, a lightweight crankshaft, titanium conrods, lightweight pistons and a conrod ratio that promotes acceleration. The gearbox action via the quickshifter is swift and positive and progress forward comes at a rapid rate not unlike that of a real superbike. In fact, admittedly the bike had the optional 'Track' ECU fitted but my vote is this is the fastest accelerating production litre-class bike yet. The bottom-end punch of the older model has gone but the mid-range and top end is incredible. I tried the Traction Control, Slide Control, Power Levels and Anti Wheelie on 3 across the board for my first session – this was too intrusive so was reduced to 2 across the board, then 1 across the board. I finally settled on 1 for TC, 1 for SC, Anti-Wheelie switched off and Power set to L2, as the throttle was smoother on P2. Overall the engine is fantastic and electronics package can be adjusted to give good rider control. There were some aspects of the YCC-T that I felt could be improved - more in my full test.
Handling was never a strong point for the outgoing R1, which was heavy and bulky with a heavy crank and engine that was low and forward. The new bike is like a TZ2505KE with a big engine! 100 per cent improvement. Steering is fast and accurate on initial turn, the front-end feel is confidence inspiring on the brakes into turns and the bike hooks up and drives off corners incredibly. Mid-corner the stock settings were very soft, not doing the bike any favours and causing understeer and instability but we adjusted that out some and the cornering performance improved. With more time and set-up the potential is there for the bike to be brilliant. The M, on the other hand, with Ohlins and on slicks was an absolute track weapon. Ready to race!
For the full test grab Rapid Bikes issue 96 on sale April 16... or visit this website on Thursday March 26.