Loved by every bike enthusiast, feared by other liter class bike manufacturers. That, in a nutshell, is the Yamaha YZF-R1. When launched in 1998, it turned the whole biking industry on its head. It brought a slew of revolutionary racetrack technology, never seen before on a production bike. All this and more, in a beautifully sharp package. Its engine produced 127.8 bhp at the rearwheel. It pulled away so ferociously, that it could give the V8 engined Boss Hoss bikes a run for their money. But while Boss Hoss bikes are big and imposing, this one is more on the beautiful side. It might not be as exclusive as a Confederate motorcycle, but it is a legend.
Yamaha YZF-R1 1998 variant
Today, it is even more agile and a lot more powerful, courtesy 14 years of development and some redesigns. The latest version sports and engine with a crossplane crankshaft, similar to the one used in Valentino Rossi's M1 since 2004. It helps in delivering a more linear and smooth delivery of power. And speaking of power, the new engine produces a massive 180 bhp, which translates to a true 146.2 bhp at the rear wheel, enough to power out of corners with massive brute. But no, the crossplane design of the engine helps in giving you complete control of that power. Its sheer acceleration will put several cars like the 700 ps Lamborghini Aventador, 570 ps Lambo Gallardo, 570 ps SLS AMG, 600 ps Porsche 911, the CCX-R, Agera, even the Buggatti Veyron to shame. All this while costing less than half the price of a Mustang. Its prime rivals are the big Suzuki GSX-R1000, the exotic MV Agusta F4, the sublime Honda Fireblade, the beast-of-a-bike Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, and the gorgeous Ducati 1199 Panigale, the BMW S1000RR, etc. It's little but almost equally potent brother, knife sharp Yamaha R6, has acquired the same genes that have made the Yamaha R1 a winner. Its power to weight ratio eclipses even the latest Aston Martin's by three times! Yamaha also makes the Super Tenere.
Yamaha YZF-R1 2009 version
Yamaha launched the YZF-R1 after redesigning the Genesis engine to offset the crankshaft, gearbox input, and output shafts. This "compacting" of the engine made the total engine length much shorter. This allowed the wheelbase to be shortened significantly, resulting in much quicker handling and an optimized center of gravity. The bike had a compression ratio of 11.8:1 with a six-speed transmission and multi-plate clutch.
Early models were subject to a worldwide recall for a clutch problem. Yamaha today describes the launch of the R1 as the true value of "Kando".
The 1999 R1 saw only minor changes, apart from paint and graphics. Notable improvements were a redesigned gear change linkage and the gear change shaft length being increased. Fuel tank reserve capacity was reduced from 5.5 to 4.0 litres (1.2 to 0.9 imp gal or 1.5 to 1.1 US gal), while the total fuel tank capacity was unchanged at 18 l (4.0 imp gal; 4.8 US gal). A second worldwide recall was issued for 1998 and early 1999 models, to change a coolant hose clamp under the fuel tank which could come loose under hard use.
Motorcycle Consumer News tests of the 1998 model year YZF-R1 yielded a 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) time of 2.96 seconds and 0 to 100 mph (0 to 160 km/h) of 5.93 seconds, a 1⁄4-mile (400 m) time of 10.19 seconds at 131.40 mph (211.47 km/h), and a top speed of 168 mph (270 km/h), with deceleration from 60 to 0 mph (97 to 0 km/h) of 113.9 ft (34.7 m). For the 1999 model year, Cycle World tests found a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.0 seconds, 1⁄4-mile time of 10.31 seconds at 139.55 mph (224.58 km/h), and a top speed of 170 mph (270 km/h).
In 2000, Yamaha introduced a series of changes to improve the bike, and minor changes to the bodywork to allow for better long duration ride handling. Yamaha's main design goal was to sharpen the pre-existing bike and not to redesign it. Even so they instituted over 150 changes in hopes of making an already light, sleek motorcycle even lighter and sleeker. For example, even with the addition of the new air induction system, which weighed four pounds, the overall weight of the bike was down five pounds to 414 pounds (188 kg) dry.
At 127.8 brake horsepower (95.3 kW) at the rear wheel, top-end output remained the same, but changes to the engine management system were intended to result in a smoother, broader distribution of power. The bodywork was still unmistakably R1, although a few changes were made resulting in a 3% reduction in the drag coefficient. The headlight housing's profile was sharpened, the side panels were made more aerodynamic and slippery, and the windscreen was reshaped for better rider protection. These redesigns changed the bodywork to a large enough degree that previous years' bodywork will not fit the 2000 model.
The seating area was also updated. The fuel tank was reshaped, with a more relaxed rear angle and deeper leg recesses to provide for a better rider feel. The seat extended further towards the front of the tank and the new, steeper, seating position put additional weight on the front end. All of this was aimed at improving weight bias and offering sharper cornering and more stability.
Mechanically, the carburetors were re-jetted in an effort to improve throttle response, especially in the low end, all the way up to the bike's 11,750 rpm redline. The redesigned camshafts were lightened and used internal oil ways to lubricate journals that, when combined with reduced tappet clearance, provided less friction and created less engine noise. The gearbox received a taller first gear, a hollow chrome-moly shift-shaft with an additional bearing and a completely redesigned shift linkage and foot pedal. These changes were aimed at eliminating problems with the transmission in earlier models, and to help to seamlessly transfer the R1's power to the tarmac.
A new fuel injection system was introduced for the 2002 year, which worked like a carburetor by employing a CV carburetor slide controlled by vacuum created by the engine. With a similar power output to the 2000-2001 bike, the engine remained largely the same. One notable improvement was the use of new cylinder sleeves of a high silicon content alloy containing magnesium that minimized heat induced distortion, reducing oil consumption. Also in 2002, Yamaha released the newly developed "Deltabox III" frame, which, with its hydro formed construction, dramatically reduced the total number of frame welds. These changes improved the frame's rigidity by 30%. The cooling system was redesigned for better performance and compactness. The exhaust system was changed from a 4-into-1 to a new titanium 4-into-2-into-1 design. The rear end of the motorcycle was updated and streamlined with a LED taillight. This allowed for very clean rear body lines when choosing one of several common after market modifications, such as removal of the turn signal stalks and stock license plate bracket; and replacing them with assorted available replacements that "hug" the body or frame. Also, front end lighting was improved in 2002, between the higher definition headlights and also side "parking" lights within the twin-headlight panel, giving a more angular appearance. This also gave additional after market possibilities, such as to remove the front blinkers and utilize these front lights as directional or hazard markers while stopped. For 2003, the only change was fitted hazard warning lights and dipped headlights, which stay on all the time the engine is running.
In 2002, Cycle World reported fuel mileage of 38 miles per US gallon (6.2 L/100 km; 46 mpg-imp), a 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) time of 2.9 seconds, a 1⁄4-mile (400 m) time of 10.32 seconds at 137.60 miles per hour (221.45 km/h), and a top speed of 167 miles per hour (269 km/h).
With the competition advancing, Yamaha made some major changes to the model. This included style updates, like an under seat twin exhaust, and performance upgrades including radial brakes, and, for the first time an R1 Ram-air intake. Furthermore, the tendency for wheelies by earlier productions was reduced by changing the geometry of the frame and weight distribution. The all-new engine was no longer used as a stressed member of the chassis, and featured a separate top crankcase and cylinder block.
The 2004 R1 weighs 172 kilograms (380 lb) dry. The conventional front brake calipers were replaced by radially mounted calipers, activated by a radial master cylinder. A factory-installed steering damper was also added this year. Combined with the changes to the frame, this helped to eliminate the tendency of the handlebars to shake violently during rapid acceleration or deceleration on less-than-perfect surfaces (aka "tank slapping").
Motorcycle Consumer News tests of the 2004 model year YZF-R1 yielded a 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) time of 3.04 seconds and 0 to 100 mph (0 to 160 km/h) of 5.42 seconds, a ¼ mile time of 9.90 seconds at 144.98 mph (233.31 km/h).
For 2006, the swingarm was extended by 20 millimetres (0.79 in) to reduce acceleration instability. In this year, Yamaha also released a limited edition version in original Yamaha racing colors to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The model (LE/SP) featured a Kenny Roberts front and rear custom Öhlins suspension units developed by the same team as the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. Custom forged aluminum Marchesini wheels specifically designed for the LE shaved nearly a pound off the unsprung weight. A back torque-limiting slipper clutch, and an integrated lap timer rounded out the package, making the LE virtually a production racer. Only 500 units were made for the United States with another 500 units for Europe.
An all-new YZF-R1 for the 2007 model year was announced on 8 October 2006. Key features included an all-new inline four-cylinder engine, going back to a more conventional four-valves per cylinder, rather than Yamaha's trade mark five-valve Genesis layout. Other new features were the Yamaha Chip Control Intake (YCC-I) electronic variable-length intake funnel system, Yamaha Chip Control Throttle (YCC-T) fly-by-wire throttle system, slipper-type clutch, all-new aluminum Deltabox frame and swingarm, six-piston radial-mount front brake calipers with 310 mm discs, a wider radiator, and M1 styling on the new large ram-air ports in the front fairing. There were no major changes for 2008. Power was 152.9 horsepower (114.0 kW) @ 10,160 rpm.
Motorcycle Consumer News tests of the 2007 model year YZF-R1 yielded a 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) time of 2.94 seconds and 0 to 100 mph (0 to 160 km/h) of 5.46 seconds, a ¼ mile time of 9.88 seconds at 145.50 mph (234.16 km/h).
In late 2008, Yamaha announced they would release an all new R1 for 2009. The new R1 takes engine technology from the M1 MotoGP bike with its cross plane crankshaft, the first ever production motorcycle to do so. Crossplane technology puts each connecting rod 90° from the next, with an uneven firing interval of 270°- 180°- 90°- 180°. The idea of this technology is to reduce variations of internal crankshaft speed, thus giving the new R1 a more linear power delivery. Yamaha claims the bike would give the rider 'two engines in one', the low end torque of a twin and the pace of an inline four. As with previous incarnations of the R1, the 2009 model keeps its YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle).
Another advancement included on the 2009 model was D-Mode Throttle Control Valve Mapping, which allows a rider to choose between three distinct maps depending on the rider’s environment. Each mode of operation controls YCC-T characteristics, changing how the R1 reacts to driver input. The first mode is Standard Mode, which delivers performance for a wide variety of driving conditions. The second mode is "A" mode which will give a rider more available power in the lower to mid RPM range. The third mode is "B" mode, which is a dial back of the previous mode, designed to soften throttle response in inclement weather and heavy traffic. D-Mode throttle control is controlled by the rider through a forward mode button near the throttle. The instrument panel is more comprehensive than previous models, and the 2009/2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 model now features a gear indicator as standard.
Overall handling of the R1 was improved through several changes to frame and suspension. A new sub frame was designed for the 2009 R1, consisting of magnesium cast in a carbon fiber mold. This new subframe offers a superior strength-to-weight ratio, while helping keep mass closer to the center of gravity, and subsequently gives the bike greater handling performance. The rear shock absorber on the 2009 offers variable speed damping, as well as an easy to tweak pre-load via a screw adjustment. The rear shock now connects underneath the swing arm through a different linkage; a change from previous years' models. Front suspension takes its cues from the M1 as the left fork handles compression damping while the right controls the rebound duties. To improve overall handling and safety, this is the first year Yamaha developers included an electronic steering damper on a production R1.
The overall look of the R1 has changed drastically. In a side by side comparison between the 2007 and 2009 models, the 2009 looks much more compact and could be compared to the size of the R6r. The center-up exhaust on the 2009 is significantly larger compared to previous models, due to changes in emissions controls. The front has the same classic R1 shape, though the air intake location and headlamp design have been revamped on the 2009 model; utilizing only projector lamps, and using the new-found design space within the nose cone to reroute ram air tubes next to the lights.
Testing the 2010 model year in the confines of a tri-oval racetrack, Motorcyclist magazine reported a 1⁄4-mile (400 m) time of 10.02 seconds @ 144.23 miles per hour (232.12 km/h), an indicated top speed of 165 mph (266 km/h), and fuel consumption of 25 miles per US gallon (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp).