2007 Liter Bike Shootout
Honda CBR 1000RR : Kawasaki ZX-10R : Suzuki GSX-R1000 : Yamaha YZF R1
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$11,599.00 (for Team Blue);
$11,699.00 (for Charcoal Silver or Candy Red)
"All-new" but very much retaining the iconic look of R1's past, Yamaha swears that it's a different bike from last year. They know when not to mess with a good thing, like the near cult following that this bike has developed since its debut in 1998.
After years and years of proven performance and reliability with its famous five-valve head, Yamaha has broken with tradition and has done away with that configuration in favor of a conventional four-valve design; additional top-end changes include titanium intake valves.
Athough bore and stroke (77mm x 53.6mm) remains the same as previous years, a marginally increased compression ratio of 12.7:1 appears. Yamaha says this redesign helps increase performance across the entire power range, a statement verified by our dyno data. New connecting rods and pistons are stronger to handle the additional power.
Also of note is the YCC-I, Yamaha Chip Controlled-Intake. A small servo motor actuates variable-length intake snorkels based on rpm and throttle position. They're extended to 140mm at lower revs for maximum torque, then shrinking to their 65mm position at high rpm for optimum peak power.
Combined with their YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled-Throttle, a system first seen on the R6 that is similarly operated by a tiny motor and calculates every one thousandth of a second the throttle valve opening and twist-grip position) Yamaha claims to deliver seamless throttle response and increased power at all points. The best part of this is that you're never supposed to be able to perceive what's happening. In a word: smooth.
The slipper clutch that was fitted to last year's limited-edition R1 is standard equipment for '07. The same twin underseat exhaust configuration remains for 2007, but it comes in titanium flavor with the famed EXUP (EXhaust Ultimate Powervalve) and dual catalyzers in order to meet stringent 2008 EPA standards while retaining its light weight.
"Taking a cue from the racing world, a curved, twin-fan radiator helps keep the R1 kewl."
Carrying this new engine around is the job of an equally new frame and swingarm. With a focus on "maximizing rigidity in cast parts and flex in extruded parts" the frame was redesigned to improve front-end feel in the corners and improve "rigidity balance." A cross-member was eliminated and a reinforcing rib was added to accomplish this. The new swingarm has its pivot point raised 3mm, increasing room for taller race tires. The overall focus of the new swinger is improved cornering, turn-in and greater traction upon acceleration out of the turn.
This is achieved by increasing torsional rigidity by as much as 30 percent while actually decreasing lateral rigidity a smidgen. Suspension components also receive upgrades with the 43mm front end getting larger diameter pistons, aluminum damping rods, reduced wall thickness and a stronger axle bracket. The end result is said to be better damping with less cavitation and lighter weight. The rear shock has a revised progressive damping rate with a dual damping-speed compression adjuster and a ramp-style spring preload adjuster.
While they were down in the suspension area, Yamaha figured they should improve the brakes too. Gone are the now-classic four pots, and in their place you'll find six-piston binders that crush down on 310mm rotors. The rotors are downsized by roughly 10mm from last year, but because of where the brake pad will ride in the new calipers, effective braking area remains the same, so says Team Blue. This resizing and relocating of braking bits is said to reduce inertial movement at the axle which should result in a lighter feel.
Although we said the bike retains its familiar look, some changes took place, primarily for improved air flow. Taking a note from the R6, the '07 R1 has a redesigned main cowling that increases intake flow while aiding in removing hot air from the engine compartment. Basically it looks a lot like the R6. In the cockpit you can expect to gaze upon a new "multi-function meter," or "tachometer and speedometer" as MO likes to call them.
Seems the term "all-new" gets bandied about quite frequently these days. Not wanting to be left out in the cold for more than a year or two, Suzuki made sweeping changes to the GSX-R1000. The 999cc 16-valve, liquid-cooled, Four with a bore and stroke of 73.4mm x 59.0mm boasts forged aluminum pistons, shot-peened connecting rods (Ouch, that must've hurt!), hollow camshafts and titanium valves to keep things light and airy. The transparent six-speed tranny almost seems run-of-the-mill these days with its flawless performance and is aided in its job by an adjustable back-torque-eliminating clutch. As if that weren't enough to make shifting as trouble-free as possible, the hydraulic -- as opposed to cable operated -- clutch is self-adjusting to maintain feel over the long-haul. What's next? Vehicles that operate on so-called "solar power?" Sheesh.
Also revamped for this year is the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve fuel injection system. Instead of four big, greedy holes in each injector, you'll kindly note that the compact system is now comprised of 12 tiny holes designed to improve atomization -- one of the few times everyone has benefited from a downsizing. As a result, Suzuki engineers were able to reposition the secondary injectors to a 30-degree angle shooting squarely at the intake ports to improve throttle response.
Speaking of ports, I had a lovely aged tawny the othe... er, wait, wrong magazine job. Anyway, back to the subject of intakes and exhausts, both of which are altered on this year's Gixxer. They've both been reshaped and are eight percent larger. The exhaust valves are up-sized, too, from 24mm to 26mm. The engine's redline is upped by 250 rpm, now to a claimed 13,750 (even if it hit the rev limiter at 13,400 when we ran it on the dyno). Wrapping things up with the fueling, Suzuki fiddled with the idle speed control system to help with cold starts.
"A rear sprocket larger by one tooth lowers the gearing for better acceleration."
If you noticed nothing else about Suzuki's 1000 it's probably because you're eyes glazed over when you saw not one but two exhaust cans hanging out back. Yep, two mostly traditional-looking aluminum/titanium units are fed by equal length headpipes. It's all aimed at lowering the center of gravity while improving torque through some witchery of mid-pipe valves and whatnot, called SET (Suzuki Exhaust Tuning). This oddball configuration allows the use of exhaust-cleaning catalysts, which is part of the reason for a ready-to-ride weight gain of more than 20 pounds.
Another reason for an extra pound or two is the addition of the new hydraulic clutch. Continuing of the growth principle, the radiator and oil pump have increased in size also.
It's hard to believe, but the company that has dominated AMA Superbike racing for most of the past decade decided it was time to overhaul the chassis. Starting with a frame designed to capitalize on mass-centralization (where have I heard that before) you'll find fewer parts and less welds with the goal being improved accuracy and reduced weight.
The swingarm follows suit and is also lightened and stiffened, and it provides a place for the shock to mount on a link that pivots on the swingarm. The intent is to improve traction. Another feature that a few of us found quite handy was the adjustable footpegs. They can be moved into your choice of three positions over a small but useful range (14mm), giving added legroom for a sport tour or increased ground clearance for a trackday.
The Gixxer's suspenders have been updated. Both the forks and shock have been graced with high- and low-speed compression damping adjustability. The diameter of the fork outer tubes was beefed up below the bottom of the triple tree, but the stanchions remain at 43mm. Fork offset went up from 28mm to 30mm for a 2mm increase in trail to 98mm. Rake angle remains at 23.8 degrees. Front suspension travel picked up a whopping 5mm of distance.
Just like on the Yami, the GSX-R received an upgrade in the binder department. This year the front rotors measure the same 310mm whilst being held to the wheel with 12 floating buttons instead of the eight-button unit from last year which is purported to aid in heat transfer, the rotors are also 0.5mm thinner. So, let's see, smaller rotors, less rotating mass should translate into improved handling. We'll bet our physics diploma had from the back of True Crime magazine that in fact that would be the case. But if, for some queer reason, handling weren't improved all that much, we'd double down and bet again that the electronically controlled steering damper will do the trick.
"Acting at the behest of the ECU, the damper has a solenoid valve that moves a tapered needle to either increase or decrease oil flow in the damper depending on bike speed."
"What a minute? What about the ABCs of the new Gixxer, dude?!" Indeed, I've gone a bit out of order to save the best for last. Truly all-new is the inconspicuous toggle located on the switchgear of the right clip-on. Peering at the new instrument cluster, the rider can observe a tiny window on the LCD. After the bike is started and has gone through its routine check, the rider can flip between three power mappings, simply labeled A, B and C. Position A is the default setting and provides the full force of the fabled and refined engine on this bike.
It's worth noting that none of the settings will display when the bike is started, and it'll stay that way until the rider decides to change things up. Holding either the UP or DOWN toggle for more than two seconds will cause the letter "A" to appear, and thereafter you can row down to setting B or C. Kill the engine, and go back to square one, or A as it were.
So how does it really work? We're not certain of all the trickery involved, but what you'll get in setting B is an ever so slightly softer powerband until 97 percent throttle opening at which time the bike will access full power. Switch down to C, and the reduction becomes apparent. This power position is markedly mellower through just about every point in the rev range. It's been loosely referred to as the rain mode. With nearly 160 horsepower at the rear, having a rain setting seems brilliant.