Troy Siahaan, Features Editor
Yamaha YZF-R1 Launch In Australia

At the end of 2014, I told the rest of the MO staff that I called dibs on the new Yamaha YZF-R1 intro. They could have all the other intros (of which there were some epic ones), but I wanted first crack at the R1. Lo and behold, I got my wish, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. First, the location was the Sydney Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek Raceway) in Sydney, Australia. Sure, Phillip Island would have been epic, but I’d never been to Australia before so I was just happy to be there (what a lovely place, btw).

More importantly, though, was the bike. A radical departure from the big and heavy R1 that preceded it, the new R1 felt light and slim from the saddle, and the amount of MotoGP tech Yamaha threw at it got me extra excited to ride. Sure enough, the R1 didn’t disappoint (once we were unleashed with the Track ECU). I simply felt invincible on the bike. Never had it been so easy for me to push my personal limits, knowing the machine I was on would be there to mask my mistakes. My Aha! moment came as I was cresting the small hill leading onto the front straight, my hand was to the stop, the front tire came a few inches off the ground, and then it gently reengaged the tarmac again, my hand never easing the entire time. At that point I was convinced Yamaha’s wheelie control was the real deal.

Hopping on the R1M, shod with slick tires, was an even cooler experience – partly because I almost got my elbow down (I could have done the job with a bit more bravery), but mostly because of the Y-TRAC app. After our sessions I could see data from my ride, compare them to others, and look at areas to improve. I could even make changes to the bike with a few button presses.

For me, the R1 represented a big leap in sportbike tech, and I was glad I got to be one of the first journalists in the world to experience it. Honorable mention for highlight of the year, in my book, goes to our Literbike Shootout, which revealed how awesome the current crop of flagship sportbikes really are, especially the Aprilia RSV4 RF. Ironically, my lowlight of 2015 comes at the controls of the Aprilia, as I was blindsided by another rider entering Laguna Seca’s Turn 11. That aside, 2015 was a stellar year.