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Once the pinnacle of production motorcycle performance, the Yamaha FZR1000 was languishing in literbike land, playing second fiddle to Honda’s CBR900RR. That changed with the introduction of the Yamaha YZF-R1. Like the CBR900RR and the GSX-R750 before it, the Yamaha R1 was lighter, stronger, faster and better handling than anything on the market.

Introduced in 1998, the Yamaha R1 set in motion sportbike styling trends still visible in today’s performance bikes. The Yamaha R1’s pointed front end and minimalist tail section gave the bike a very lithe profile — befitting for a literbike with a dry weight of only 375 lbs.

Key to the Yamaha R1’s performance was its “stacked” transmission, offsetting the gearbox’s input and output shafts, thus creating a compact engine design and allowing for more centralized engine mounting and shortening of the bike’s wheelbase. Initial tests saw the 132-hp R1 accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds, from 0 to 100 mph in under six seconds, and top out at a maximum speed of 165 mph.

Largely unchanged except for semi-annual minor performance upgrades to the engine, suspension and bodywork, the 2002 Yamaha R1 received a new fuel-injection system and the new Deltabox III frame was now manufactured with hyrdo-form technology that decreased the amount of welds and increased the frame’s rigidity.

2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

The next generation Yamaha R1 in 2004 maintained the distinctive profile of the R1 while also modernizing it for the new millennium. Twin under-seat mufflers graced the rear of the new Yamaha R1,while ram-air intakes were added to the front fairing. Also at the front were new radially mounted brake calipers. A steering damper now came stock to quell headshake problems.

In 2006 the U.S. enjoyed a special limited edition Yamaha R1, the YZF-R1 LE/SP. The 500 special Yamaha R1s imported featured vintage Kenny Roberts “Bumble Bee” paint schemes worn during Roberts’ racing dominance in the late/early ‘70s/‘80s. The special edition Yamaha R1 also featured Öhlins suspension and a slipper clutch.

 A holdover from the original Genesis engine design was the five-valves-per-cylinder engine format, but the 2007 model did away with that technology, replacing it with the more standard four-valves-per-cylinder layout. In 2009, borrowing from Yamaha’s MotoGP effort and the highly successful M1 prototype, the new R1 featured an engine with a cross-plane crankshaft, creating an uneven firing interval for an alleged increase in a rider’s feeling of rear-tire grip. Also introduced in 2009 is the D-Mode, Throttle Control Valve Mapping which allows the rider to select differing power delivery depending on road or track conditions.

In the Hands of Noriyuki Haga the bike took second or third place in World Superbike competition for six years in a row, but it didn’t earn its first title until Ben Spies left AMA Superbike racing (following two championships on a Suzuki GSX-R1000) and won the World Superbike Championship for Yamaha in 2009 riding an R1. The Yamaha R1 has received limited success in AMA Superbike racing, not winning a championship until Josh Hayes on a Graves Motorsports R1 took the title in 2010.

Yamaha R1 Reviews

2014 EICMA: 2015 Yamaha R1 Video

Kevin Duke is live at EICMA where he files this report about the most advanced Japanese sportbike in some time – ...

2014 Yamaha Lineup Unveiled

The 2014 Yamaha street lineup is highlighted by the FJR1300ES, a $1000 upgrade featuring electronic suspension.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Review [Video]

To save the suspense, I'll say it up front: Yamaha's new traction control system on the 2012 YZF-R1 works exactly as advertised. The rest of the 2012 Yamaha R1 is largely the same sportbike we've had since 2009.

2009 Yamaha R1 Review

Yamaha’s new YZF-R1 provides literbike performance in a package that benefits not only racers, but also lesser-skilled street pilots. Yamaha has upped the ante in delivering mega performance in a package that will benefit sportbike riders of all types.

2009 Yamaha R1 Unveiled!

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the revolutionary R1 on a five year old chassis, Yamaha recently unveiled their next generation of superbike for 2009.

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Yamaha R1 Comparisons

2012 Japanese Superbike Shootout - Video

Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have all tweaked their respective contenders for 2012 – the CBR1000RR, GSX-R1000 and YZF-R1, have significant changes, while Kawasaki returns for 2012 with the same traction-control-equipped machine it introduced last year.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 vs. 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC [Video]

Some manufacturers have shifted their focus from generating more horsepower to making sure the power reaches the ground more effectively. Two sportbikes that exemplify that mindset are the Yamaha YZF-R1 and Aprilia RSV4 R APRC.

2009 Literbike Shootout

Honda's CBR1000RR reigned supreme in the 2008 Literbike Shootout. Can Yamaha's new and much ballyhooed YZF-R1, Suzuki's redesigned GSX-R1000 or Kawasaki's powerful ZX-10R stage a coup and lay claim to the 2009 title? Read on to find out.

2015 Yamaha R1

2014 Yamaha R1

2013 Yamaha R1

2012 Yamaha R1

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